Making African universities and other learning institutes more disability-inclusive with a free web-based toolbox
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“CapAble guides us in making strategies and educational materials accessible to all learners.” Dr. Molalign Belay, Co-Director, Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at the University of Gondar
Light for the World, an international NGO based in Austria, developed CapAble, a website that provides universities and other learning institutes with tools and other resources for disability inclusion in higher education. The website was built specifically for an African context, but it can be used in any country. Resources include an assistive technology hub, an e-course, and even a printable board game. Originally developed to support the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program in several African countries, between 2021 and 2023 it gained over 30,000 users with 240,000 page views.
Tools and resources supporting universities to become disability-inclusive are mainly centred around the experiences and realities of high-income countries.
Solution, Innovation and Impact
Light for the World, the Austrian-based international development NGO, has launched a web-based toolbox to support universities and other learning institutes across Africa in becoming more inclusive for students with disabilities. The CapAble platform provides practical tools and resources tailored specifically for the African context. CapAble is available in English and French on a fully accessible website. It features an e-course, the CapAble awareness game, and an animated video series on mental health. An assistive technology hub, geared towards helping universities to find the right assistive technology to meet the needs of students, was developed under the leadership of an expert in the field who has a visual impairment. The site’s audio-visual materials offer a participatory approach, allowing students with disabilities to share their narratives in a way that makes them feel proud. Being funded by the Mastercard Foundation, CapAble was first targeted towards Mastercard Foundation Scholars. They are a group of young people from Africa groomed to be future leaders and trained in becoming more disability inclusive. Over time the focus shifted, and as of 2023 the tool not only supports universities and learning institutes in Africa but outside the African context as well. By October 2023 it had 33,433 users, mainly from sub-Saharan Africa.
Funding, Outlook and Transferability
The CapAble platform was initially funded through the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program. In 2023 it was funded under a new programme called We Can Work, implemented by Light For the World, the African Disability Forum, and organizations of persons with disabilities in the seven programme countries. The programme continues to be co-funded by the Mastercard Foundation, and further expansion of the programme is planned. CapAble’s open-access approach is easily replicable. For instance, it has been implemented in a programme funded by the United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development with a similar platform for developing inclusive rural economies. (Awardee 2024)