Ronald Kasule, CEO of Dasuns, knows what it feels like to be counted out. Kasule, the last born of eight children and a person with a disability, shares that he struggled to attain his education in Uganda because of stigma and lack of resources.
“When I left primary school to go to secondary school, I was denied access to the school of my choice because the head teacher had insisted that I could not manage without support, yet there was no support available for me except my mom who was old but also had other commitments,” said Kasule. His mother was caring for a family alone. “Unfortunately, in Africa, when parents produce children with disabilities, most likely, the father disappears. It was no different in my life,” shared Kasule.
Kasule lost the scholarship to his secondary institution of choice but attended another school. After graduating, Kasule found more obstacles waiting. “I wanted to join the world of work, but unfortunately, it was not welcoming for me again. It was very hard for me to get a job,” he said.
In 2018, Kasule was invited to join a US State Department sponsored fellowship that was focused on disability and inclusive employment. “I went to Washington DC to learn the American way of promoting inclusive disability employment. And when I came back, I was supposed to start a disability employment program in Uganda.”
When Kasule returned to his country to implement what he learned, he realized that change would not happen quickly. “I tried my best. I talked to companies and different CEOs, but most of them told me that they are not against employing people with disabilities…the challenge is that they do not have access to the support that people with disabilities need,” he explained.
Kasule believes one of the reasons that resources are lacking for people with disabilities is due to under-representation in government data. He believes that some families do not account for people with disabilities when they share household headcounts for the census. “[The government] thinks there are very few [people with disabilities] but there are very many and it’s impacting government policy,” he said.
Kasule set out to forge change himself. He founded Diversity Ability Support Network System (Dasuns), which is a web based and mobile application that connects users with disabilities with support providers. Support may include sign language interpreters and mobility guides, among other services. “Just like you can use Uber and order a taxi, this is the same type of methodology,” said Kasule.
Dasuns is in the prototype stage and working to implement feedback after an initial user feedback session for people with disabilities and support service providers.
Kasule’s future goals include transitioning volunteers into full-time employees and implementing technology training into the application. He explained, “Most people with disabilities are not tech savvy. They haven't had the opportunity. It is within our plan to train people with disabilities in information and communication technologies so they can access this.”