In episode 16 of Lit’EDTech Fiesta, Dastaan invites Mr. Ali Shabbar to discuss Deaf Tawk.The app Deaf Tawk hopes to make the world an easier place to navigate for those with disabilities. The session also provides constructive points regarding inclusivity in the current world.
Meet Ali Shabbar
Being blind himself, the CEO of Deaf Tawk, Ali Shabbar offers incredible insight into the kind of world he lives in. Moreover, he shares his visions for a future with inclusivity. Since the founders of the application are differently-abled people, it acts as an honest attempt at inclusivity.
Learning with disability: How Inclusive is it?
In the status quo, not much is available for the disabled when it comes to learning opportunities. According to Mr. Shabbar the education and resources available are limited as the
“mainstream authors are not catering towards people with disabilities”.
There also appears to be a generalized view of challenges faced due to disability, even though they exist on a spectrum. According to Mr. Shabbar, the blind have it easier as compared to the deaf. It is because the former “can communicate, observe”. Thus, allowing them job opportunities even in Pakistan, such as doing “voiceovers in kindle”.
Furthermore, the gap between learning and disability is quite wide as there appear to be only upwards of 300 “educational institutions for people with disabilities”. However, in contrast to the number of people with disabilities, it’s very less.
Technology as a bridge: Inclusivity and disability
Apps like Deaf Tawk aim to bridge the inclusivity gap. On one level it helps bypass the “communication barrier” as they have “140000 hours of language communication”. In other words, it effectively acts as a “google translate for the deaf community”. Deaf Tawk has been responsible for around 700 people who got “employment opportunities in Pakistan”.
In addition, it involves the participation of likeminded people in order to help it achieve its purpose. According to Mr. Shabbar “everybody can be an interpreter”, and through a 4 month course they can start working with Deaf Tawk.
Lastly, Deaf Tawk also does content translation. Their team is currently “working with universities to translate books”, thus making learning opportunities more accessible.
Is the world an inclusive place?
As of now, there are organizations that work towards helping disabled people such as Idea or WDF. However Mr. Shabbar also voices his anxieties related to the pressures to succeed within such a market. For if they fail, “no one will invest in companies with founders with disabilities”.