The Webinar on Assistive Technology Business Innovations was a prelude to build momentum towards the Southern Africa Assistive Technology Expo (SAATE) to be held from 24 to 26 November 2022.
The event drew speakers from academia, research institutions, disability organisations, and small and medium-sized assistive technology entrepreneurs. With this list of high-profile speakers and entrepreneurs, we have put together all the speeches and presentations ready for viewing or downloading, from which you can learn emerging trends in assistive technology innovations and entrepreneurships.
In her keynote address, Hon. Manombe-Ncube highlighted the importance of supporting designers and manufacturers in their noble aim to uplift the living standards of people with disabilities.
“We must work strategically and intentionally if we want to make a difference, and I can see that you are already doing so.”
In his welcoming remarks, he emphasized the significance of assistive technologies in enabling productivity, independence, and inclusion of persons with disabilities in the society or community. He said it was, therefore, high time that our policymakers were also well informed about how best to domesticate or implement Article 9 of the Convention 3 which focuses on Accessibility.
His duty was to state and discuss the aim and main objectives of the webinar as follows: to raise awareness of available resources related to business innovations; to provide examples of best practices for sustainable and inclusive businesses, and to identify steps towards the facilitation of resources and training to support sustainable and inclusive business.
She delivered a presentation in which she highlighted that Assistive technology (AT) is crucial for inclusive achievement
of each of the Sustainable Development Goals. Prof Mji said that there is need to develop regional databases to improve access, leverage on partnerships and the need to develop of an AT hub in Africa to increase access.
Kim Viljoen said in her presentation that Mobile phones have the potential to be bespoke and cost-effective tools for persons with disabilities, clustering together multiple assistive technologies in a single device. She pointed out that a disability gap exists in mobile ownership and the gap appears to be more wider in ownership of smartphones.
In his address he shared an overview of SAFOD’s long term vision with regards to assistive technology. According to George’s presentation, he alluded that SAFOD’s overall vision is to act as a holistic advocacy institution for
people with disabilities in Southern Africa; provide advice and support across all aspects of everyday living and working, including assistive technology.
He made a presentation about the first rechargeable hearing aid battery developed by Deaftronics. Tendekayi said that the battery is solar powered and can be charged via the sun, house light or cellphone plug. Deaftronics also have an application called DREET a health care program that seeks to break down these barriers to by taking holistic approach to solving the challenges posed.
Lucia Otsetswe is the founder of ATRD a company which developed an application that teaches Botswana sign language called Sign Coach. Sign Coach app was developed mainly to bridge the gap between the hearing and deaf members of the society. Lucia also shared the vision of ATRD which is to promote inclusion, by providing e-content for learners with special educational needs.
She delivered a presentation about an innovative tool for screening hearing impairments using commercially available tablets, headphones, and dedicated software for gaming. Tone Oderud outlined the objectives of this project saying they want to develop affordable screening tools and innovative hearing devices appropriate for children in low-resourced settings.
He spoke about how the Editmicro, a leading supplier of technology solutions in Souther Africa and across the Africa, is impacting the lives of persons with Disabilities particularly in the education sector. It develops alternative and cutting-edge technology for learners of all abilities. Since 1991, it has used technology to aid curriculum delivery.
In her presentation, Deborah Tigere discussed the ear mould lab in Zimbabwe, the challenges faced and as well as advantages. Above all she highlighted the sustainability of this project whereby the income from the lab was used to procure more consumables and replacing broken down equipment – subsidized services, affordable fee structure.
Catherine Holloway’s presentation was titled-“building an assistive technology innovation ecosystem.” She presented about assistive technology, giving a brief introduction of what AT is and discussed Africa’s first assistive technology accelerator program called Innovate Now. She also highlighted the achievements of the program.
In her recorded presentation, Rebecca Matter gave an overview of the challenges in the assistive technology sector in Southern Africa and the some of the innovations for increasing access. Some of the challenges she briefly discussed include the is the inadequate and fragmented funding and investment, the shortage of skilled assistive technology personnel and a weak policy environment.
George Torrens delivered a presentation titled “Supporting sustainable inclusive arts and crafts in Southern Africa” along side Simon Downs from Loughborough University and Timothy whitehead from Aston University. They discussed the Business Integrated Industrial Design Innovation model (BIIDI) and documented key outcomes from a series of sponsored activities with SAFOD.
He delivered a presentation about SAFOD’s Assistive Technology Information Mapping project that was funded by Google under the Google Impact challenge titled “big ideas that will use technology to expand opportunity and independence for people with
disabilities”. He highlighted that collaborations with stakeholders and those who were present at the webinar was crucial.
You might feel you had missed the event if you did not register to participate. Well, the good news is that you haven’t really missed out entirely! You still have an opportunity to watch the event video recordings and follow all the proceedings.
Meanwhile, if you want to appreciate AT suppliers and disability services in ten southern African countries, you can view the listing on SAFOD’s app. Then, click on Google Play or AppStore icons below to start downloading and installing the app. And don’t forget to follow the installation instructions here.
Or do you prefer an electronic e-directory/publication? Now available here.