A new trend is emerging in today’s uncertain job market. One which will allow access to new employment and new ways of collaborating with companies. This exciting trend promises to boost the technological revolution by putting everyone's capacity for initiative to the test. If we add the need to create more inclusive societies to the mix, “everyone” should, by default, include people with disabilities. This is exactly what Fundación Once challenged us to do.
Their goal could not have been clearer or more powerful: promote digital and technological capabilities, specifically in web programming, to give them the skills they need to work in one of the most high-demanding job sectors in the market and succeed in their careers. An ambitious and much needed mission, which we believe ought to be extended to society as a whole.
"Our role is to coordinate and provide the training," explains Libia Renza, Opinno’s Project Leader. "Together with Fundación ONCE, we worked on the initial selection process and coordinated the companies who imparted master classes and workshops. These external companies will also provide a clear vision of what future programmers can expect once they’re hired, by offering them internships," says Libia.
With a title that, in itself, already posed a challenge - "Programming for Non-Programmers" - one of the keys to the program’s success was to get rid of the cultural myth that people, in general, have with respect to programming: that it’s exclusive to the smart ones in class.
"We are talking however, about a truly universal language, one that is more accessible than we think, and the only one that allows us to build new realities and literally be able to program immediate changes," clarifies Libia. Learning to program also reinforces the sense of security and control, the capacity to be creative, and the pride and satisfaction from the results. Something worth incorporating as we face this new world order and our educational system as well.
The course consists of three phases. However, something totally unexpected happened during the first one, in which 250 hours were dedicated to basic concepts and programming: Covid-19. “When we were given the assignment from Fundación ONCE to coordinate an on- site 800-hour course, little did we imagine that a global pandemic was going to test our ability to react and adapt, having to make the transition from a classroom setting to a virtual one, and in real time,” recalls Libia.
To ensure access under equal conditions for all students, this new online format required integrating accessibility features such as automatic subtitling or the presence of an online sign language interpreter for a student with hearing disabilities.
The second and third phase of the course has 30 students in Madrid, Valencia and Barcelona, learning simultaniously. Both phases consist of 550 hours of web programming, innovative methodologies and transversal skills. Once they complete their training, the students will go onto the final phase: real internships at companies which collaborate with Fundación ONCE and Inserta Empleo.
These companies, in addition to the tax and economic benefits of training the students in practice, with personal dedication and zeal guaranteed, will be helping to create a more inclusive society.
Despite all the challenges, Libia and her team already have a great reason to celebrate: 95% of the students are still actively enrolled.
Along with a happy client, integrating people with disabilities into the tech world, and the benefits that has to society as a whole, in Opinno we are left with one final thought. As a company we must continue to collaborate with our ecosystem and as a society, we must pay more attention to initiatives that ensure personal and professional development for everyone. In this regard, Fundación ONCE is undoubtely leading the way.