Computing Technology Industry Association, an IT interest group, announced the week of May 19 that through a $25,000 grant from the NEC Foundation of America, which supports programs to bring assistive technologies to the disabled, it will launch a new training program aimed at creating high-tech employment opportunities for young people with disabilities.
The grant is the first phase of a national online IT training, mentoring, certification and job placement assistance program, with the goal of offering the free serves to 65 students in the next year. Disabled teenagers and young adults in the program will have the opportunity to receive training and certifications online, adjusted to their abilities.
"Most of them will start out with something on the ground level. If they choose to use one of our certifications, they might start with the A+ for help desk support, computer repair and basic networking skills, or they might go with the equivalent from another vendor," Steven Ostrowski, a CompTIA spokesperson, told eWEEK.
While this program is the first to specifically address the disabled population, CompTIA's Creating Futures educational foundation has in the past worked with Lighthouse for the Blind to train their clients in computer jobs through the use of specialized technologies.
Interested teenagers and young adults can begin the newest training program as soon as the application, submitted online, is approved. CompTIA also hopes bring the program to other countries in the near future, it said.
"We'd like to be able to expand this globally, and are working with an organization in Europe right now to do this, so that people can be trained online from anywhere in the world, whenever they're available," Ostrowski said.
The grant was one of seven announced by the NEC Foundation May 12, totaling $222,250, for organizations that engage in technology to remove barriers to communication, participation and independence experienced by people with disabilities. Another grant went to a program at the University of Missouri in Kansas City to create a fully accessible online community for people with intellectual disabilities called OurSpace, while another went to a project that will expand online job fairs for disabled college students in Texas.
"Some 20 percent of the population has a disability. Any one of us might develop a disability at any time. The application of technology to ensure the education, employment and enjoyment of this largest minority group is imperative," Hisashi Kaneko, president of NEC Foundation of America, said in a statement.