Enable Ireland and Microsoft today announced that they are partnering to further the digital transformation of the charity by helping it to move its operations to the cloud with Office 365. Its 1,200 employees and volunteers will be able to access documents from anywhere, helping them to spend more time focusing on Enable Ireland’s service users. The software donation was made at the graduation ceremony for the Foundations in Assistive Technology course, delivered by Enable Ireland and Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT).
Microsoft has supported the Assistive Technology course for fifteen years, through hosting training sessions at the company’s campus in Sandyford, Co. Dublin. Microsoft’s team has a longstanding relationship with Enable Ireland, frequently hosting fundraisers to benefit the charity including an annual funding drive and by volunteering to decorate its local facilities.
Today, Microsoft hosted 17 graduates of the Foundations in Assistive Technology course, who will go on to assist many people with disabilities. A total of 365 participants have graduated from this course since 2001, including people with disabilities and their families, employers, educators and carers. Enable Ireland’s research indicates each graduate reaches an average of 20 Assistive Technology users, so the cumulative number of Assistive Technology users who have benefited from this training is now in the region of 7,300. Assistive Technology is revolutionising the way people with disabilities access opportunities in education, employment, communication and independent living. The course trains people in the use of Assistive Technologies including desktops, tablets, smart phones and smart home devices as well as leisure pursuits such as gaming, music and photography.
Increasingly, voice output communication devices are being utilised for their Assistive Technology capabilities. Through its Hack4Good initiative, Microsoft team members volunteered to create ME: My Essentials, an application enables people who are visually impaired to use Cortana to assess the status and configuration of their device. Christina McCarthy, Consultant at Enable Ireland, was on hand at today’s event to explain how this technology has benefitted her life.
Siobhan Long, National Manager, Assistive Technology Training Service at Enable Ireland, congratulated the graduates of the course:
“Well done to the 17 fantastically talented individuals who have worked so hard and today graduated from the Foundations in Assistive Technology course. We recently conducted an Assistive Technology survey which showed that users overwhelming appreciated the difference that AT makes to their lives. 61% said they couldn’t manage without it. These graduates will go on to make a real difference to our community as they help others share in the benefit of this technology. We are appreciative of Microsoft’s support, which takes many forms including volunteering, skills sharing and philanthropic giving. Today the company is donating its Office 365 software to take our 1,200 employees and volunteers to the cloud. This will free our team up to access documents on the go, so that they can support our users from anywhere.”
Today’s event also celebrated the winner of the 2016 Community Design Challenge Award, which recognises design projects undertaken by Exert AT Users and Product Design Students from DIT. The winning project is an application called Eye Bowl for people who are blind and wish to go bowling.
Dan Klein, Microsoft Ireland, said the company was delighted to support Enable Ireland in its important work to further accessibility.
“At Microsoft we believe it is critically important that we think about making technology accessible to all. Our collaboration with Enable Ireland has given our team an important window of insight into people’s needs and prompted new innovation. We are thrilled to be supporting Enable Ireland as it harnesses the power of the cloud for digital transformation. This charity does critically important work in moving the focus from the disability to the person – not least through its Assistive Technology course. Well done to all the graduates of the course and the 2016 Community Design Challenge Award, whose achievements were recognised today,” he said.
More information about Enable Ireland is available at www.enableireland.ie.