September 5 is “Charity Day” in China. The day commemorates China’s charity law, which came into effect on September 1, 2016. This year, China has seen technology play a bigger role in the country’s philanthropic causes.
According to the China Disabled Persons Federation, there are more than 85 million disabled people in China. With emerging technology developing rigorously in the country, more technology companies, charities and individuals have realized the importance of harnessing innovation to open new doors for people in need.
NGOs use technologies to help
Huang Shuai, director of the Chuangshan Community, told CGTN that most people with physical problems need assistive technologies to overcome them.
His NGO is running special projects to create mobile applications and produce and modify digital devices for people with physical problems. “For many people with physical disabilities, the daily actions that are necessary in today’s world, such as clicking a mouse, typing on keyboards or using smartphones, can be very difficult to perform,” she said.
In the Chuangshan community, many of the volunteers are high school students who are interested in using innovative assistive tools, such as the sip-and-puff mouse and special keyboards. They learn coding, computer modeling, and basic craft skills here. Once the devices are finished, they are sent to local charities.
“Students in high school STEM clubs have most of the skills that are needed for assistive tool development. They can solder, they can do 3D printing, basic circuits and programming,” Huang added.
Zheng Zhen is a high school student at Beijing No. 4 High School. He has been working for the NGO for three months. “It’s very cool to use technology to help people. I’m in the modeling team, we also have an electrical design team and a circuit team. We’re working on a special app for users to control those digital devices,” he said. Zheng to CGTN.
Technology for a greater good
It’s not just NGOs in China. Tech professionals have realized that technological advances are game changers in the world of philanthropy.
Tencent, one of the tech giants in China with corporate social responsibility projects, launched an annual charity campaign called “99 Giving Day” and established donation programs to address a wide range of challenges affecting the local and global community.
A director of the company’s user experience and charity platform told CGTN in an interview that they have offered various tech kits and cloud services to many NGOs, local communities, and universities.
“They can use the apps, coding, WeChat mini-programs and cloud collaboration service in the kits for free. We also launched a free CTO campaign within the company. Engineers can go and work as CTOs in NGOs and provide hands-on technology support,” Chen said.
“We believe that technologies, especially those that can be used by NGOs and people with disabilities, will not only make our lives more comfortable, but also bring dignity, power and courage to people and connect our communities,” he added.