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Amsterdam - Oracle E-Accessibility Scholarship to Computer Science Standout with Disabilities (March 2016)


Last year, the European Disability Forum (EDF) of which the Saint Lazarus Foundation is a member, joined forces with Oracle, an integrated cloud applications and platform services company, to promote accessibility within the ICT (information and communications technology) profession. Together, we offered an e-Accessibility Scholarship of 8,000 euros to higher education students with disabilities in the fields of computer science, computer engineering, user experience, among others.

"We joined forces with Oracle, firstly to give recognition to outstanding students with disabilities who will become ICT professionals. No one knows better than them how crucial it is to develop accessible technologies", said EDF Secretary Rodolfo Cattani. "Our second objective is to mainstream accessibility in the high education curricula in order to encourage education centres not only to be inclusive, but also to teach inclusion".

Scholarship award criteria considered academic achievements along with a project proposal for applicants' final year undergraduate, graduate, or doctorate thesis covering accessibility for persons with disabilities in the ICT domain.

This year's EDF-Oracle scholarship was awarded to Caroline Hurley, a computer science major at Open University in the United Kingdom. In addition to her studies, Caroline also works as a director at MykaSoft, a web design studio, where she manages a variety of projects spanning web design, services and development, as well as Java Scripts, e-commerce, mobile apps, branding, IT support and project management.

Caroline's project is to develop a mobile application to seamlessly connect persons with disabilities with caregivers, interpreters and assistants. Through this application, persons with disabilities can be able to quickly check care workers' nearest location and their availability. For example, a case study showed how a deaf person spent an entire day to find a sign language interpreter for a next-day doctor's appointment, since there are very few interpreters in the European Union (EU). Caroline's application can be beneficial to people with disabilities requiring 'face-to-face' care workers urgently.

"Oracle is proud to sponsor the first European Disability Forum e-Accessibility Scholarship aimed at encouraging students with disabilities to take up a career in technology," said Karl Cox, Oracle's Vice President, global public affairs. "Oracle prides itself as an equal opportunity employer. We believe that people with disabilities offer unique talents, and can help raise awareness of their everyday workplace challenges. We are thrilled to help Caroline launch her project and drive innovation in accessible technologies."

"Due to my deafness since childhood, I've had to face many more barriers in life than other people without disabilities", said Caroline Hurley, EDF-Oracle 2016 scholarship recipient. "These were mainly accessibility barriers, as well as barriers due to the mentality that you should have low expectations from deaf people and people with disabilities in general. This scholarship has given a real boost to my self-esteem and I am determined to do something to make life easier for people with disabilities who will use this technology."


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