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EnableAll Initiative

EnableAll.org was envisioned as an online, self-help community for people with disabilities that leverages Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) to make them capable of harnessing the opportunities that today’s knowledge economy has to offer, thus making them independent, skilled and productive. EnableAll seeks to leverage the inherent strengths of the Internet to enhance the quality of life of people with disabilities and empower them by providing relevant and timely information, education, training in ‘new economy skills’ and employment.

Needs Addressed

There exists a two-way relationship between poverty and disability (World Bank. “Poverty and Disability: A Survey of the Literature”, 1999). The disabled are among the poorest in terms of income, asset ownership and basic capabilities. EnableAll.org offers great potential for increasing the productivity, participation and overall well-being of people with disabilities.

A research survey was conducted by Enabling Dimensions and it was found that an online self-help community for people with disabilities that helps them acquire training and capabilities in new economy skills would go a long way in enhancing their employability and quality of life.

Thus was born EnableAll.org which has evolved since its inception in 2002, from being one of the few accessible websites covering the Fifa World Cup to today providing information and e-learning based tutorials on job-oriented skills relevant to the new economy.

EnableAll.org identified the needs to be addressed after a lot of formal and informal interactions, focus group interviews and email surveys within the target community, and are today well poised to meet their identified needs.

Engagement with the Target Audience

There is a regular interaction with the target audience both on individual level through emails and personal contacts and through focus group discussions, surveys and testings at group level. There is also a feedback loop on EnableAll which allows information to flow in from the target audience.

Target Audience

Our target audience is an urban youth, who has had basic education upto High school and is on the look out for avenues to enhance his or her skills for a better quality of life.

As per the data derived from the 2002 NSSO (National Sample Survey Organisation) survey our target audience of urban, youth (in the age group of 15-29) who is either blind or low vision is 194 per one lakh of population.

Funding

EnableAll.org has been seed funded by Enabling Dimensions, its promotor company. As of now the project is not sustainable but plans are to make it so by the year 2008.

EnableAll.org is in the process of developing series of commercial online and offline products and services that will generate revenue and make EnableAll.org a self sustaining venture.

The Technologies Enabling EnableAll.org

EnableAll.org has moved from the older ASP platform to Drupal, an OpenSource CMS. As we are growing we envision more content being generated for EnableAll.org. Drupal gives us the flexibility of adding or removing features and functionalities as we feel the need for it. Also, there is much more support available from the community with respect to more features and functionalities being added in future.

Accessibility

EnableAll.org meets the level two of accessibility standards set by W3C. The custom built Content Management System being currently used ensures accessibility to level two.
Drupal the new Content Management System on which the EnableAll.org will be moving to adheres to the standards set by W3C.

Promoting EnableAll.org

EnableAll.org conducts regular email campaigns and interacts regularly with the champions amongst the community members to spread the word. Focus Group meetings are conducted on regular intervals with the community members, to keep a tab on the ever changing environment and requierments of the community members. Contacts with key people in apex organisations is maintained, so as to ensure an allround involvement of the community.

A sustained participation and use of content on EnableAll is maintatined by pushing content like tutorials for skill enhancement via newsletters to subscribed users, which are also published online. Classroom based training programmes are conducted which after a period of time are moved online. Facility to download information is also provided so that it could be viewed offline. This ensures the content is used and community members are benifitted.

Is EnableAll.org Replicable?

Based on our interaction with apex organisations working for the visually disabled in South East Asian countries, we find that the needs of the community are very similar. Like lack of information and lack of training in job-skills relevant in the new economic milieu. A project like EnableAll will be very relevant in these countries because of similarity of needs of the target audience.

The instructional design strategies and pedagogical insights for e-learning will be applicable universally for any e-learning product targetted at the visually disabled community.

Future Plans

The interactive e-learning materials we are currently creating, we see them being used by educational institutions as complementary computer-aided learning tools or as self-learning materials for the students.

We see EnableAll growing into a full-fledged Distance Learning Institute imparting job-oriented skills training. The courses will be accredited such that they are recognised by employers. The learners will be tested and certified. Career counseling will also be provided.

We see an eco-system emerging, with downstream linkages with educational/training institutes and direct linkages with learners for imparting skills training and sharing of best practices in ICT-based learning for visually disabled and upstream linkages like partnerships with placement agencies and employers for placing candidates in jobs.


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