Ford Motor Company Fund and Light Into Europe Charity launched last week in Craiova the first Romanian Coding Club for Deaf Pupils.
The Club is located at Beethoven Technological High School in Craiova and is a result of a $20,000 investment made by Ford Motor Company Fund.
The initiator of the project is British- Romanian Charity Light Into Europe whose mission is to support Romanian people with a visual or hearing impairment to improve their lives, to expand their possibilities and to become active and accepted members of the Romanian society.
The Club will offer vocational training for 50 secondary school pupils from Craiova, providing them with real access to employment when they leave education, while 10 teachers will join a coding teaching program, conducted in Romanian sign language.
The project is based on a study of young pupils in Craiova with hearing issues, which uncovered a need for greater access to education and a level playing field when it comes to securing employment.
Teachers and pupils will be provided with sign language sessions in using about 250 IT Romanian sign language, making the sessions accessible and relevant to Deaf pupils (that rely mainly on sign language). The collection of signs will become an online resource for all teachers of the Deaf in Romania through Light into Europe’s website.
The project involves also sign language training and basic coding abilities of 30 high school pupils and students from Craiova as volunteers so that in the long-term, the coding sessions will be co-lead by Deaf pupils and volunteers.
“We are delighted to contribute to this very special project. We strongly believe in the opportunities this project can bring, especially as we at Ford Craiova hired last year a number of hearing impaired employees who are now fully integrated into our workforce. We believe that focusing on peoples abilities is a much more positive approach which hopefully will be replicated across other companies and communities” said Ian Pearson, Ford Romania President.
Improving the teachers’ training and technical skills will enable them to provide sustainable educational activities that are relevant, age-related and inclusive within Romania’s labor market.
“Digital technologies have transformed how we connect and engage with the world around us, creating opportunities in every area of contemporary life. Deaf pupils may not know the word ‘algorithm,’ but thanks to the Ford Fund investment at the High School for the Deaf, they will be able to produce one. It is our commitment to facilitate access to computer science education for Deaf pupils in Romania and make it accessible to them”, said Camelia Platt, CEO Light Into Europe.
The club will offer pupils access to a fully equipped coding facility-laptops, software and computer desks, which have been installed by Ford IT employees from Ford’s Craiova plant, and there will be further opportunities for Ford employees to volunteer with the project, going forward.
Young people who take part in the weekly sessions will receive a certificate in computer coding at the end of the course as the first step on the road to an exciting and fruitful career in coding.
‘Coding is an universal language and we believe that computer science, coding and programming can be a future for these students and can open a new channel for entrepreneurship. Employment is something they are always worried about, they say, ‘who will hire us? Through weekly sessions on various coding projects we will show them they could pursue this as a career. This is an area all young people are interested in, especially that they use the technology every day. They are very tech savvy, very visual, so understand quickly, Steve Allison, volunteer and lead of technology Light into Europe.
Light into Europe Charity has been a long-term advocate and promoter for the rights of deaf people and developed over the years some essential services for this community:
- in 2007- the first training kit in Ro sign language for parents and teachers,
- in 2011- the largest inventory of Ro sign language resources in partnership with the European Institute of Sign Languages in Sweden and
- in 2014-2016- the development of the national occupational standard for sign language interpreters with 700 participants.
Camelia PLatt, Executive Director.
Light into Europe charity