The organisation whose main focus is to develop suitable technologies to achieve digital inclusion for vulnerable groups, including persons with disabilities says, the initiative is an expensive one and, therefore, requires the financial support of others to succeed.
According to Dr. Mrs. Millicent Agangiba, Co-Founder and the Executive Director of Inclusive Tech Group, unlike other hackathons, the 3-day Disability Hackathon involves a lot, such as transportation and accommodation of the competing groups, which include persons with disabilities.
She explains that the peculiar needs of the competitors with disabilities require special attention which comes with a high cost.
Dr. Agangiba was speaking in an interview with DisabilityNewsGH at the closing ceremony of this year’s hackathon in Accra.
The 2023 DI-HACK which was the third edition, took place from November 28 to November 30, 2023, under the theme “Transformative Solution for Inclusive Development: The Role of Innovation in Fueling an Accessible and Equitable World”.
Ten groups from the Greater Accra, Central, Ashanti, Western, Volta and Upper East Regions exhibited innovations aimed at making life easy for persons with disabilities.
Hexohub, a group that developed a smart shoe utilizing cameras and AI for path recognition, obstacle avoidance, and route learning for the visually impaired was adjudged the winner. For their prize, the group was given Ghc¢10,000, medals and a trophy. Smart IV, inventors of a smart spectacle and stick, also to aid the easy mobility of the visually impaired, placed second, taking home a cash prize of Gh¢7,000, medals and a trophy. And Sphere Guard, inventors of a gesture-based communication device that seeks to improve access to emergency assistance and advance social inclusion for the deaf, won the third prize of Gh¢4,000, medals and a trophy.
As part of the programme, all the three winning groups will later undergo a six-month intensive mentorship to help them develop their prototypes designs into real useable devices for the disability community.
Dr. Millicent Agangiba discloses that they have learned a few things over the three years of organising the event which they would be working on. They include similarities in some of the ideas and how to avoid such repetitions, the need for modification of the post-hackathon mentorship process to ensure that the candidates undergo the full programme.
She further discloses that some of the previous winners seemed to be satisfied with the prizes won and, therefore, did not avail themselves for the mentorship and that needs to be addressed.
Dr. Agangiba also urged persons with disabilities to take advantage of such programmes to showcase their abilities.
The hackathon was sponsored by Google Ghana, UNESCO, PwC, the Institute of Engineers and Technology Ghana (IET), and the Computer Stars Association of Ghana (COSAG).