By Rizal Raoul Reyes
The Philippine unit of US-based software giant Microsoft emphasized the importance of digital technology in the country, saying it will play a key role in strengthening access of children ? especially the differently-abled ? to education.
It is important for the Philippines to empower its 25.4-million K-12 learners and prepare them for the future, Bernard Launay, newly-appointed managing director of Microsoft Philippines, emphasized.
?We at Microsoft create technology that recognizes the diversity in learning and we have created tools that empower all students,? he said. ?Microsoft has a firm commitment in education to serve students as well people with special needs,? he added.
Citing the recent Microsoft Asia Digital Transformation Study done across 13 markets in Asia, Launay said 87% of business leaders from the education sector agreed that every organization, including educational institutions, needs to transform into a digital business to enable future growth.
Furthermore, the Department of Education cited the role of technology to engage all learners including those with special needs. Last year, the DepEd had 250,000 enrollees at the elementary level and 100,000 at the high school level, with a continuing thrust to provide quality and inclusive education for all.
In a press briefing held on September 5, Microsoft’s local subsidiary launched a video that showed Microsoft?s commitment to inclusive learning.
The video featured students from the Adaptive Technology for Rehabilitation, Integration and Empowerment of the Visually Impaired (ATRIEV), explaining how visually impaired learners can gain important computer science skills that will help increase their employability opportunities.
In 2016, ATRIEV and Microsoft have strengthened that partnership and continue to help the visually-impaired to be employable.
Clarissa Segismundo, education programs lead at Microsoft Philippines, said accessibility tools and assistive technology tools such as audio Narrator were utilized to enable the students to apply basic office productivity tools and even computer programming and coding. ?This gives them a new opportunity and new chapter in their lives,? she said.
Moreover, the video showed how digital technology has helped visually impaired trainers teach other students.
Through Microsoft?s innovations, Segismundo said students learned how fundamental concepts can be better explained in the context of the students? special learning needs and how assistive technology can truly transform a classroom to be 100% inclusive.