PEOPLE AND STORIES
28 December 2021
08 May 2023
Sampson Dzivor has cerebral palsy. For a long time, he was afraid of not being able to keep pace with people in the ICT-sector. Having participated in a training of the non-profit association Digital Skills Accelerator Africa (DSAA) he is now aiming for a career as a software developer and wants to enable other people with disabilities to do the same. ‘The laptop helped me with writing because clicking on the buttons of the keyboard is much easier than holding a pen,’ says the Ghanaian Sampson Dzivor. The young man lives with cerebral palsy, a neurological disorder that affects body movements and muscle coordination. It is prevailing among people in Ghana while there are only limited opportunities for treatment. Despite his condition, Sampson´s parents always wanted to make sure that he receives the highest standard of education and sent him to one of the best schools in the northern region of Ghana. Because he had difficulties writing legible and fast the 24-year-old only went to school starting from the age of seven. ‘Teachers were coping differently with my disability,’ he remembers. Although he was sometimes given extra time during his exams, he did not make it to finish the tasks before the deadline.
Things changed when Sampson received a computer as a gift from his school director who made him explore the device: ‘He would always give me tasks to do, for example doing research on the Internet.’ It made life easier as Sampson started typing his exams with two fingers instead of handwriting them. The constant use of the computer also eventually sparked his interest in the ICT industry. After finishing school successfully, he planned to study computer science but eventually applied for special education instead. ‘I was afraid that I would not be able to keep up in terms of speed and accuracy,’ he recalls. At the University of Education in Winneba – in the south of Ghana – he learnt how to identify and teach people with disabilities. It was the first time for him being apart from his family. ‘I had to work on my independency and it worked out perfectly,’ says Sampson, who also educated fellow students about vital issues of people with disabilities through a radio-programme. ‘We were supported by the facility of special education and even got free time for the programme.’
His interest for the ICT-sector never vanished. One day, one of his friends told him about the training of the Digital Skills Accelerator Africa (DSAA) at the member company getINNOtized. While going through the website of the programme Sampson noticed that it was disability-friendly. Although being afraid that he would be wasting his time, Sampson decided to apply. ‘Let me give it a try and see how it goes,’ he said to himself.
‘I said to myself: let me give it a try and see how it goes.’Sampson Dzivor
DSAA is a registered non-profit association of companies in the digital services sector based in different African countries. Supported by Invest for Jobs, it offers young people in Africa job-relevant ICT training programmes in accordance with international standards. In Ghana, getINNOtized offers one programme which opens prospects especially for people with disabilities. It is highly praxis-oriented: During the four-month course, Sampson and his fellow trainees were learning soft skills and software development, mainly focussing on cloud computing.
His favourite part of the programme was the class sections as it ‘is a period of releasing stress and of having fun and learning together.’ He remembers how considerable persons with disabilities get treated during the training sessions, though the program was very intense: ‘Sometimes I needed to jump from one learning material to another so that I can keep up.’ The young student improved his time management and learnt how to finish tasks on time and how to collaborate with other people in order to achieve the same goal. ‘I learnt to accept ideas from other team members, which might be totally different from mine.’ Besides soft skills, Sampson also got taught technical expertise and already used his knowledge to build the website for his former school. ‘This training has changed how I understand coding, how websites work and how to develop them.’ He is sure that the DSAA-program would be a good preparation for the job market: ‘After you are done with the training, you not only have learnt theories but also have practical experience and you will be able to deliver.’
Sampson is very proud of himself having participated in the training. He decided to remain in the ICT-sector and applied for doing his national service as a software developer at getINNOtized. There, he will be given training but also work. He is aware that persons with disability are still disadvantaged when it comes to the professional field: ‘Most people with disabilities are not used to use computers in an intensive way or do not have the money to buy one.’ On that account, the young software developer wants to expand his knowledge and use his skills to have an impact on society: ‘My vision for the future is to ensure that all individuals, including persons with disabilities, have equal chances for getting into the ICT-sector and receive technology to enhance their performances.’ Disability should not be something that limits. ‘The only thing that working in the ICT-field requires should be interest and passion.’
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