In South Africa, the technology we use and develop needs to be accessible and usable for everyone.
This was the word of Precious Lesupi, founder of Queers Code, in an interview with ITWeb TV.
Despite global technological advancements, Lesupi says South Africa still faces significant challenges in making technology accessible to everyone.
Lesupi outlines that inclusive technology means developing technology that removes barriers for people with disabilities like screen readers for the blind; subtitles for the deaf; and voice control for those with motor limitations.
The Queers Code founder adds that inclusive technology must also cater for other minority groups such as those who are queer, old and those of different races.
“I own a company called Queers Code and what we do there is really just focus on inclusive technology. So, yes, you have a great app but can the minority groups of the country use it? Can a deaf person use it? Can a blind person use it? Can a handicapped person use it? Can a queer person use it? If the answer is no, that’s where inclusive technology development comes in,” explains Lesupi.
Lesupi underscores the pressing issue of youth unemployment exceeding 50%, calling for urgent solutions, and expresses disappointment with the government's lack of support for tech education and collaboration with tech communities.
“In a rapidly digitising world, these digital skills such as coding, data analytics and digital marketing are no longer optional but essential for unlocking a myriad of opportunities. It’s great that the government has integrated robotics into the curriculum, but what quintiles have access to that?
“The government needs to provide better access to technology and resources in rural areas, update curriculum with relevant tech tools like GitHub, and actively engage with tech start-ups and communities.”
These programmes aim to empower those unable to afford formal tertiary education, and are essential for fostering digital upskilling as well as providing digital skills to anyone who did not attend university.
Lesupi also believes organisations should be more open to employing people with informal education due to their practical skills.
“Organisations should stop saying people need five years’ experience for entry level jobs because that amount of experience does not equate to an entry level job,” adds Lesupi.