Microsoft has donated a software package to Enable Ireland allowing the charity to move its operations to the cloud through Office 365 for its 1,200 staff and volunteers.
The announcement was made at the graduation ceremony for 17 students of the Foundations in Assistive Technology course, delivered by Enable Ireland and Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT).
Microsoft has supported the Assistive Technology course for 15 years, hosting training sessions at the company’s campus in Sandyford, Co Dublin and hosting fundraisers including an annual funding drive and volunteering to decorate local facilities.
A total of 365 participants have graduated from this course since 2001, including people with disabilities and their families, employers, educators and carers. The course trains people in the use of Assistive Technologies including desktops, tablets, smart phones and smart home devices as well as leisure pursuits such as gaming, music and photography. The course is aimed at providing a solid foundation in AT for diverse audiences: adults who are AT users, therapists, teachers, IT professionals, families and others.
Siobhan Long, national manager, assistive technology training service, Enable Ireland, said: “Well done to the 17 fantastically talented individuals who have worked so hard and today graduated from the Foundations in Assistive Technology course. We recently conducted an assistive technology survey which showed that users overwhelming appreciated the difference that AT makes to their lives.
This national online Assistive Technology survey was undertaken as part of the research process which informs the recommendations made. A total of 236 Assistive Technology users responded to the survey. The findings dispel the widely-held belief that AT is expensive, with 64% of respondents indicating that they used technology costing less than €1,000. 41% of AT users reported that they had self-funded their own AT. Respondents were extremely positive on the perceived usefulness of their AT equipment with 61% reporting that they couldn’t manage without it. However, nearly 30% of respondents experienced frustration and delays in the process of securing their AT. Waiting times were also highly variable, with 54% reporting that they received their AT in three months. However, 15% had to wait over 6 months and 16% waited in excess of a year.
“For people with disabilities and older people, technology can change the most ordinary of
daily activities from the impossible to the possible. Assistive Technology can support people
to live to their fullest, to participate in education and employment and to live independently
and as part of their communities.” Senator John Dolan, CEO
Disability Federation of Ireland.
Dan Klein, Microsoft Ireland, said: “At Microsoft we believe it is critically important that we think about making technology accessible to all. Our collaboration with Enable Ireland has given our team an important window of insight into people’s needs and prompted new innovation… Enable Ireland does critically important work in moving the focus from the disability to the person – not least through its Assistive Technology course.”