Living with a Disability Denis Komakech
Denis Komakech shares his success story of Living Well with a Disability

Denis Komakech, 27 and blind, is a living testimony. Today, he shares his success story on how can people with disabilities cope with life

At the age of 27 years old, blind, Denis Komakech has gained fame as an activist for ICTs, targeting persons with special needs.

Because of his computer knowledge, Komakech who also works with Oysters & Pearls, an educational programme that supports blind students in science, technology, engineering and maths, has been training persons with special needs, empowering them to take advantage of ICTs.

“I can now survive in any environment like other persons,” with his computer skills, Komakech pinpoints that he is ready to survive in any harsh environment.

Oysters & Pearls and Uganda Communication Commission have been working hand in hand to ensure rural areas to access reliable internet services and also educate locals about the importance of ICT.

Komakech has been one of the key training staff for the two workshops both in Gulu and Mbale through the Rural Communication Development Fund sensitisation team in support of ICTs for PWDs.

As a living testimony, Denis Komakech has called on PWDs to remain hopeful and use the opportunities around to make themselves better men and women.

According to him, acquiring skills in ICT can be a good prospect for PWDs in enabling their development and the country in general.

“Now there’s hope; we want to use this opportunity given to us by UCC, to change the mindset and create awareness,” he said.

“We need to reach every child who is blind because I have discovered if you’re in a community and you have papers, you have the skills, you can contribute to the development of your country,” he added.

Komakech who also wears dark-rimmed spectacles and jungle boots, that offers him protection from hard objects as he walks said that skills in terms of ICT learning in addition to other assistive technologies can give PWDs some sort of independence.

He also added that these computer skills enabled him to complete his Bachelor’s degree in Social Work and Social Administration (SWSA) without much ado.

“When I joined Makerere University in 2014, I was already a star in using computer applications. I would help fellow students in computer, even those who weren’t blind,” he said.

However, Komakech has stressed that he wasn’t born blind but was told that a measles infection at the age of three led to his gradual blindness.

Two weeks after getting the terrible news, Komakech had nothing to do and he joined Primary Six in a specialised primary school where he started learning Braille (a writing system for visually impaired people, consisting of patterns of raised dots that are read by touch).

A year later, he sat for Primary Leaving Examinations and subsequently joined Gulu High School where he continued to study Braille for another four years.

“I [struggled] for many years until 2005 when I was taken to a referral hospital in Gulu where they assessed me and said it was going to be hard to regain my sight,” he said.

“For me, I didn’t have much of that pressure because I had a tool and I was a star at using it,” he said.

“Coursework could be a source of pressure if you didn’t have an internet connection or lacked the knowledge and skills to use a computer,” he added.

Meanwhile, he has urged his colleagues to take on the ICT opportunities provided by the Uganda Communication Commission.

By John Dalton Kigozi