UCU students strive for inclusive education  through technology

By  Yasiri . J. Kasango

A team of five students from Uganda Christian University (UCU) have come together to improve the educational experience of visually impaired students under a project dubbed “Gen-visual.”

This team is developing software that will enhance communication and mobility for visually impaired individuals. It will focus on enabling users to send and receive messages through an intuitive interface.

Since some course units or subjects require observation, this will allow the users to take photos of their surroundings and interpret them, thus providing a greater understanding of their environment.

Visually impaired students struggle to read notes written on white or black boards. Individuals face physical mobility challenges, particularly on congested roads, which can endanger their lives. 

Currently, visually impaired individuals are using a white rod to identify objects around them. This software will also serve as a guide for them. It will be capable of interpreting the user’s location, and users will have the ability to command the software to take photos of their surroundings and provide interpretations, thereby aiding in their movement and understanding of their environment.

The students plan on incorporating a newly developed artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot known as ChatGPT, which will help visually impaired individuals interpret class content.

“The visually impaired students will have access to reading material that is recorded and saved for them during classes.” This will improve their academic performance,” Jowash Otto, one of the team members, said.

However, the students are held back by financial constraints, which have hindered the development of the software. “We are struggling to find finances to accomplish our Gen-Visual project,” Marvin Kauta, another member of the team, noted.

The team is grateful for UCU’s support, as it has provided a platform for them to practice what they have learned in class. The Department of Computing and Technology, under the supervision of the Faculty of Engineering, Design, and Technology at UCU, has organized training for students, including the Digital Praxis boot camp, where these students were introduced to mentors who helped guide them through their innovation and also introduced them to potential investors for their projects.

“We are excited for students since they are implementing what we taught them in class to cause a social change in society,” Michael Lukeera, a lecturer in the department of Computing and Technology at UCU, said.