As the term implies, disability is a physical or mental state that denotes limitation. People with disability are those who have an impediment with either physical of mental features. As such they go through discrimination from time to time. This is where disability innovators come in.
Coping with a disability especially when in contact with people is very tough. Some have wallowed in self destructive psycho-states while others with the right support and mindset are setting the pace of survival and confidence for others to follow.
About 81 million people across Africa are affected by some form of disability (WHO). The United Nations equally states that one-third of the 60 million population who do not go to school have disabilities.
By the above estimates it became paramount that a class people best known as disability innovators stepped in to ease the day to day challenges of people with disabilities. They are quite visible in local and international spotlights.
These are the disability innovators Africa couldn’t be more proud of:
1. Grace Jerry
The singing star was hit by a car in 2002. The accident left her paralyzed. Somehow, the resilient soul through music gave her life a meaning that is worth the while; a meaning that will lift others up from the dungeon of hopelessness.
“Today, it is more than just holding the microphone, it is my world, my platform and my voice.”
She reaches out to others in her shoes through the disability advocacy NGO. Grace had the opportunity of introducing President Barack Obama at an international function.
“I had to hold back the tears when he walked up to me on stage and said some beautiful things about me and the work we are doing in Nigeria…”
2. Ethiopian Center For Disability And Development
The Accessible guidebook under the zero project is pioneered by a group of people with disabilities. The target of the guidebook is to make Ethiopia more accessible to everyone.
Consequently, the Ethiopian Center for Disability and Development trained persons with disability to undertake audits and survey in 12 towns in Ethiopia. WHO says that there are about 15 million persons with disabilities in Ethiopia. So the initiative is a good way to keep them busy and innovative.
3. Shona McDonald
Country: South Africa
Shona McDonald is an artist who gave birth to a child with disabilities. Against all odds and the negative advise to put her away in a special needs home, Shona was determined to stick with her baby girl.
Her zeal not to give up on her child led her into the world of biomedical engineering. Today she is the CEO of Shonaquip, a company that manufactures medical aid equipment.
4. Tlhokomelo Elena Sabole
Meet the 2015 Miss Deaf Africa, Tlhokomelo Elena Sabole. She regards her victory in the pageantry a privilege. Understanding the challenges of living with disabilities, she wants to be a source of encouragement to others.
“Winning was so amazing. I have never been happy like that… “My dream is to have my own business; for example a salon where I can share my skills and work with other deaf girls.”
5. APTERS Organisation
APTERS organisation is a group of 8 humanitarian persons living with disabilities. Just like other disability innovators, they noticed the hardship that comes with impaired conditions, the team came up with a plan. With recycled and cardboard papers they make papier maché chairs, standing frames and walking aids. They also help with physiotherapy education.
6. Victor Locoro
Victor lost his sight at the age of 10. He is a lecturer in the Faculty of Special Needs and Rehabilitation at Uganda’s Kyambogo University. He has spent 20 years lecturing and helping in the rehabilitation of people with disabilities. He does this through publications.
7. South African Deaf Rugby Union (SADRU)
SADRU was founded in 2007. The union has a total of 90 deaf players cum disability innovators. The union held its first official Deaf Rugby Test series against Deaf Rugby World Champions, Wales in 2014.
“…Our numbers are steadily growing especially now that we are forming provincial Deaf Rugby unions in each province of SA.”- Tim Stones Co-founder.
8. Kay Igwe
Born in the United States, Kay has produced an accessible computer game that is powered by brain waves.
“A lot of people are investing in gaming culture right now; but when someone has a neuro-degenerative disease… they cannot use a controller in the same way that someone who has those abilities can.”
So the idea is to enable people who have had stoke or suffer paralysis to use electroencephalogram or EEG signals to connect their brains to the computer games.