In Bangladesh, youth with disabilities often have difficulty transitioning to work, as they lack the necessary skills to perform competitively in the job market and also face discrimination from employers on the basis of their disability. When the World Bank and Microsoft announced the regional grant competition “Youth Solutions! Technology for Skills and Employment”, we decided to submit a proposal to address this from the Young Power in Social Action (YPSA) in Bangladesh.
Our proposed project titled “Empowering Youth with Disabilities through Market Driven ICT Skills” sought ideas from youth on how to use innovative and creative methods to promote ICT skills amongst youth with disabilities to help them secure gainful employment.
YPSA’s project aims to provide ICT training to 40 youth with disabilities, who will also receive support securing ICT internships, help with job search and assistance in producing Digital Accessible Information System (DAISY) products. The project will initially focus on the disabled youth of Chittagong, the port city of Bangladesh.
On May 21st 2013, we were invited to present our project at a workshop organized by the World Bank, Microsoft and Sarvodaya-Fusion at Colombo, Sri Lanka. Eight short-listed project proposals were presented at this event, as four youth-led NGOs from Bangladesh, Nepal, Maldives and Sri Lanka competed to secure grants.
On behalf of Young Power in Social Action (YPSA), from Bangladesh I attended the event to present our proposal. All the participants who attended the regional grant competition from the four countries had lots of fascinating ideas and had the chance to share their innovative proposals. During my presentation I spoke on how youth with disabilities can demonstrate their true potentials using ICT. As a person with visual disability, my presentation itself was a surprise for many in the audience as I was using adaptive technology such as screen reading software.
At the event, four proposals from Bangladesh, Nepal, Maldives and Sri Lanka won grants; from Bangladesh YPSA won. In early September, we launched our project with a captivating event that marked the initiation of the ICT training program to build skills for employment. Twenty disabled youth were chosen for the first batch of training, out of which eight are female and twelve are male. The first batch includes youth with visual, physical, speech and hearing disabilities. Towards the end of the training program these participants will be exposed to the ICT job market and will receive support in securing employment. We will send detailed information of this project, the trainings provided to them and participants’ resumes to different organizations to help match them with jobs requiring their acquired skills. Participants who choose to be self-employed will be given guidance in setting up their enterprises.
We hope that our project will serve to become an example of success, for others to replicate. We’ve found that the youth chosen are enjoying the training sessions and are quite eager to complete it so that they can open the gateway of self-reliance. We hope that the project will change and improve the quality of the lives of disabled youth and enhance their dignity as individuals who can work their way out of poverty.
It can be said that a new journey for youth with disabilities have begun in Bangladesh.