Wednesday, 20 June 2018
Quest for access to technology for disabled Kenyans. According to the “World report on disability-2011” by the World Bank and the World Health Organisation, there are 1 billion persons with disabilities worldwide, who constitutes 15% of the total global population. Of them, 80% live in developing countries and almost the same percentage live in extreme poverty conditions. Persons with disability (PWDs) exhibit the lowest health, education and economic outcomes. Our own home Kenya isn't far behind with over 1.5 million persons with disability according to Kenya population census 2009. Of which is a disputed figure by the Kenyan disability movement who claim it should be 6 million. . With poor implementation of Government policy and little access to affordable assistive technology solutions, disability has grown to be a largely unaddressed social challenge. One of the main facets of an inclusive society is equality of opportunity for all citizens – access to the same public resources and similar facilities. However, in the case of persons with disabilities, achieving this equality is a road paved with challenges. Accessibility in general refers to the ability of people with disabilities (PWD) to access products, services, environments etc. in their day to day life. With the global shift to “digital”, this accessibility gap has further widened. Technology can be a powerful enabler for them to overcome their physical limitations. Over the last few years, technology solutions like screen reading software, wheelchairs, walking aids etc. have helped assist PWDs in leading an independent life and aided their livelihood opportunities. While technology advancements continue to be beneficial most such innovations originate in the western world and have not developed with affordability as a critical factor. In recent years there has been a lot of momentum in this sector with organizations working towards both technological solutions and grass-root implementation. It is heartening to see them bring such energy and passion instead of the neglect it has faced for decades. In Kenya too, there is growing awareness towards the rights of persons with disability. Recognizing the fact that inclusion of persons with disability can be the cornerstone of a truly inclusive Kenya, my Dream is that the Kenyan government will one day launch the Accessible Kenya Campaign through the ministry of information and technology. Paul Mugambi is a senior policy consultant and commentator on social public discoes. email@example.com www.mugambipaul.com
Friday, 15 June 2018
Everyone has 'a moral imperative' to uphold the rights of persons with disabilities, says UN chief NEW YORK, 12 JUNE 2018 (UN NEWS CENTRE) --- Cementing and protecting the rights of around 1.5 billion people around the world in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is a “moral imperative” said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on Tuesday. He was addressing a conference of signatories to the Convention at UN Headquarters in New York, describing it as one of the most widely-ratified international human rights treaties, which reaffirms that people with disabilities are entitled to the same treatment as everybody else. “But signing and ratifying the Convention is not enough. Implementation is essential,” Guterres said. “Societies must be organised so that all people, including those with disabilities, can exercise their rights freely.” The Secretary-General underscored that countries apply the Convention to their development policies, investments and legal systems, which is an important step “if we are to fulfil the central pledge of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: to leave no one behind.” “We cannot afford to ignore or marginalise the contributions of 1.5 billion people,” he stated, pointing out that more had to be done for people with disabilities to fully participate in society. People with disabilities still often face overt discrimination, stereotyping and lack of respect for their basic human rights – with women and girls disproportionately affected. “Every minute, more than 30 women are seriously injured or disabled during childbirth,” elaborated the UN chief. Moreover, women and girls with disabilities face multiple barriers to accessing education, health services and jobs. “Without women’s empowerment and gender equality, millions of women will continue to suffer from double discrimination based on both their gender and their disability,” he added. The Secretary-General spelled out the need for new approaches to work for and with people with disabilities, which include mainstreaming disability in national legislation and development strategies. “It will also be crucial to continue and expand the work that United Nations agencies are doing to support Governments and develop their capacity on these issues,” he maintained, elaborating on the need to strengthen policy frameworks and laws on disability, in line with the Convention and the 2030 Agenda. He concluded by noting that a comprehensive review would be looking at all aspects of how the Organization addresses disability, as well as informing a new UN Action Plan and an accountability framework “to help us aim higher and live up to our promises.” Signing through an interpreter, Colin Allen, Chair of the international Disability Alliance, spotlighted the strength of working collectively to achieve true and meaningful change. “For the people in this room, and for the more than one billion people we represent,” said Allen, “we are building a strong and solid platform that will propel us forward.” Catalina Devandas Aguilar, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities noted that while progress has been made, it is not reaching everyone in the same way. “There is a great demand for public interventions of better and higher quality,” she said, adding: “Only by working together will we fulfil our common goal of leaving no one behind.” “Together, we can remove barriers and raise awareness, so that people with disabilities can play a full part in every sphere of society, around the world”, she said.... Today 12 June 2018, the elections for 9 seats for the CRPD Committee took place on the first day of the 11th Conference of States Parties to the CRPD. IDA congratulates the re-elected and newly elected candidates, whose term will term will begin in 2019: list of 9 items • Ms Rosemary Kayess (Australia) • Ms Gertrude Fefoame (Ghana) • Mr Jonas Ruskus (Lithuania) • Mr Danlami Basharu (Nigeria) • Mi Yeon Kim (Republic of Korea) • Markus Schefer (Switzerland) • Ms Mara Gabrilli (Brazil) • Ms Risnawati Utami (Indonesia), and • Ms Amalia Gamio (Mexico). list end The election of the new 6 women and 3 men will lead to a composition of 12 men and 6 women on the CRPD Committee, for the period of 2019 and 2020, contributing to restore gender balance towards gender parity!
Sunday, 10 June 2018
Ability Sounds: Update on braille standards AKA viduta.: Interview with #jonothan, You may have read recently about a new universal standard for Braille displays adopted by the USB Implementers For...
Interview with #jonothan, You may have read recently about a new universal standard for Braille displays adopted by the USB Implementers Forum. This is an industry body comprising manufacturers and software developers who wish to move the USB specification forward. Participants include Microsoft, Apple and Google among many others. Freedom Scientific has been a part of the process that has led to the adoption of this standard. While we’re not yet able to give you all the answers to questions our customers have been asking about what this standard means for your Freedom Scientific product, we’re happy to bring you up to speed with developments and our thinking. What is the new standard? The new standard agreed by the USB Implementers Forum creates a specification which Braille display manufacturers and operating system developers can adopt, by which Braille displays are Human Interface Driver (HID) compliant. This means that, just like a keyboard or a mouse, when you plug your Braille display into a computer, the operating system will recognize that you’ve connected a Braille display. The Braille HID specification has prescribed keycodes for keys found on all Braille displays in the same way that the QWERTY HID specification has standard codes for alphanumeric and navigation keys. Each display manufacturer can also assign custom codes for keys found only on their displays. In this raw mode, it’s up to screen readers to map between what a key is and what it does, though for standard keys, this mapping will be the same for all displays. For the Braille HID standard to work, two things need to be true. The device needs to identify itself as a Braille display based on the new standard, and operating systems must support the new standard by including a compatible driver. What does this mean for Freedom Scientific? Freedom Scientific has an interest in this topic in two respects. We manufacture Braille display hardware, and we develop software that works with many Braille devices in addition to our own. We appreciate that there is interest in both whether our Focus displays will be compatible with the new HID driver, and whether JAWS will be compatible with HID displays. Will Focus Blue displays be HID-compatible? Yes. It is our intension to make at least our current generation of displays HID-compatible. This will involve an update to the firmware for the displays. At this time, we are unable to estimate when such an update will be available, but it is not imminent. Remember, it will also take some time for operating system manufacturers to include support for HID-compatible displays. It is a complex task, because we are also committed to ensuring that our hardware works with all existing operating systems currently supported by our displays, including operating systems that may not receive an update incorporating support for this new standard. We do, however, absolutely appreciate the value of, for example, being able to connect a Focus Blue display to a PC running Narrator during Windows set-up, before it’s possible to install JAWS. Will JAWS support HID-compatible displays? Yes. Ultimately, we expect that you will be able to connect any HID-compatible Braille display to JAWS and get Braille. It is possible that this support will be rolled out as an alternative to, rather than a replacement for, our current secure Braille initiative, similar to the way you can choose to use a SAPI text-to-speech engine that is not quite as responsive as the voices that have been optimized specifically for JAWS. Long-term Braille customers will know that some years ago, we entered into partnerships with Braille display manufacturers to significantly improve the quality of Braille support in JAWS. As part of that partnership, once a driver has been signed by us, we take full responsibility for supporting your Braille experience with JAWS. It has improved the user experience a lot, and eliminated any ambiguity about who customers should call for support. Because JAWS includes functions well beyond those specified in the new HID standard, we must continue to work through how we ensure maximum compatibility with a wide range of devices, while continuing to offer the most powerful, robust Braille support in the industry. Conclusion Much work lies ahead on implementation of the HID standard, and we’ll keep you posted. Rest assured that we’ll be moving forward seeking to facilitate user choice while ensuring we preserve the quality and reliability of Braille in JAWS you’ve come to expect. www.mugambipaul.com
Sunday, 3 June 2018
“Those who seek Me diligently will find Me.” Isaiah 45:19 (NKJV) Father, In the midst of great spiritual darkness we seek Your light; In the midst of abounding sin we seek Your righteousness; In the midst of conflicting voices we seek Your truth; In the midst of confusion and growing perplexity we seek Your wisdom; In the midst of self-centeredness and personal gain we seek Your glory; In the midst of insecurity and uncertainty we seek Your hope; In the midst of difficulty and increasing needs we seek Your provision; In the midst of illnesses and weakness we seek Your wholeness; In the midst of worries and deepening restlessness we seek Your peace. In the midst of selfishness and injustice we seek Your kingdom. In the midst of ruined lives and broken spirits we seek Your healing; In the midst of hurting hearts we seek Your love. Thank You, Father, for your assurance that those who seek You will also find You.
Wednesday, 30 May 2018
Blind Student Earns M.D. #guest writer by Sharon Cohen article by Sharon Cohen, is not the first blind person to earn a medical degree, nor the second, or even the third. Nevertheless, the article is inspiring, and it contains fascinating and useful details that can inspire and inform parents and teachers who may have never considered medicine or the sciences as a potential career path for blind youngsters. Here it is: The young medical student was nervous as he slid the soft, thin tube down into the patient�s windpipe. It was a delicate maneuver and he knew he had to get it right. Tim Cordes leaned over the patient as his professor and a team of others closely monitored his every step. Carefully, he positioned the tube, waiting for the special signal that oxygen was flowing. The anesthesia machine was set to emit musical tones to confirm the tube was in the trachea and carbon dioxide was present. Soon, Cordes heard the sounds. He double-checked with a stethoscope. All was okay. He had completed the intubation. Several times over two weeks, Cordes performed this difficult task at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics. His professor, Dr. George Arndt, marveled at his student�s skills. �He was one-hundred percent,� the doctor says. �He did it better than the people who could see.� Tim Cordes is blind. He has mastered much in his twenty-eight years: Jujitsu. Biochemistry. Water-skiing. Musical composition. Any one of these accomplishments would be impressive. Together, they�re dazzling. And now, there�s more luster for his gold-plated resume with a new title: Doctor. Cordes has earned his M.D. In a world where skeptics always seem to be saying, stop, this isn�t something a blind person should be doing, it was one more barrier overcome. There are only a handful of blind doctors in this country. But Cordes makes it clear he could not have joined this elite club alone. �I signed on with a bunch of real team players that decided that things are only impossible until they�re done,� he says. That�s modesty speaking. Cordes finished medical school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the top sixth of his class (he received just one B), earning honors, accolades, and admirers along the way. �He was confident, he was professional, he was respectful, and he was a great listener,� says Sandy Roof, a nurse practitioner who worked with Cordes as part of a training program in a small-town clinic. Without sight, Cordes had to learn how to identify clusters of spaghetti-thin nerves and vessels in cadavers, study X-rays, read EKGs and patient charts, examine slides showing slices of the brain, diagnose rashes, and more. He used a variety of special tools, including raised line drawings, a computer that simultaneously reads into his earpiece whatever he types, a visual describer, a portable printer that allowed him to write notes for patient charts, and a device called an Optacon that has a small camera with vibrating pins that allow his fingers to feel images. �It was kind of whatever worked,� Cordes says. �Sometimes you can psych yourself out and anticipate problems that don�t materialize. You can sit there and plan for every contingency or you just go out and do things. That was the best way.� That�s been his philosophy much of his life. Cordes was just five months old when he was diagnosed with Leber�s disease. He wore glasses by age two, and gradually lost his sight. At age sixteen, when his peers were getting their car keys, he took his first steps with a guide dog. Still, blindness didn�t stop him. He wrestled and earned a black belt in tae kwon do and jujitsu. An academic whiz, he graduated as valedictorian at the University of Notre Dame as a crowd of 10,000 gave him a standing ovation. Cordes finished medical school in December but still is working on his Ph.D., studying the structure of a protein in a bacterium that causes pneumonia and other infections. Though he spends ten to twelve hours a day in the lab, Cordes also carried the Olympic torch when it made its way through Wisconsin in 2002 (he runs four miles twice a week) and has managed to give a few motivational speeches and accept an award or two. He�s even found time to fall in love; he�s engaged to a medical school student. But Tim Cordes doesn�t want to be cast as the noble hero of a Hallmark special. �I just think that you deal with what you�re dealt,� he says. �I�ve just been trying to do the best with what I�ve got. I don�t think that�s any different than anybody else.� He also shuns suggestions his IQ leaves his peers in the dust. �I just work hard and study,� he says. �If you�re not modest, you�re probably overestimating yourself.� Through the years, plenty of people have underestimated Cordes. That was especially true when he applied for medical school and was rejected by several universities, despite glowing references, two years of antibiotics research, and a 3.99 undergraduate average as a biochemistry major. Even when Wisconsin-Madison accepted him, Cordes says, he knew there was �some healthy skepticism.� But, he adds, �the people I worked with were top notch and really gave me a chance.� The dean of the medical school, Dr. Philip Farrell, says the faculty determined early on that Cordes would have �a successful experience. Once you decide that, it�s only a question of options and choices.� Farrell worried a bit how Cordes might fare in the hospital settings, but says he needn�t have. �We�ve learned from him as much as he�s learned from us. One should never assume that any student is going to have a barrier, an obstacle, that they can�t overcome,� he says. Sandy Roof, the nurse practitioner who worked with Cordes in a clinic in the town of Waterloo, wondered about that. �My first reaction was the same as others�: How can he possibly see and treat patients?� she says. �I was skeptical, but within a short time I realized he was very capable, very sensitive.� She recalls watching him examine a patient with a rash, feel the area, ask the appropriate questions, and come up with a correct diagnosis. �He didn�t try and sell himself,� Roof adds. �He just did what needed to be done.� Cordes says he thinks people accepted him because most of his training was in a teaching hospital, where he blended in with other medical students. One patient apparently didn�t even realize the young man treating him was blind. Cordes grins as he recalls examining a seven-year-old while making the hospital rounds with Vance, his German shepherd guide dog. The next day, he saw the boy�s father, who said, �I think you did a great job. [But] when my son got out, he asked me, �What�s the dog for?�� With his sandy hair and choirboy�s face, Cordes became a familiar sight with Vance at the university hospital. The two were so good at navigating the maze of hallways that interns would sometimes ask Cordes for the quickest route to a particular destination. Some professors say Cordes compensates for his lack of sight with his other senses especially his incredible sense of touch. �He can pick up things with his hands you and I wouldn�t pick up like vibrations,� says Arndt, the anesthesiology professor. Cordes says some of his most valuable lessons came from doctors who believed in showing rather than telling. �You can describe what it feels like to put your hand on the aorta and feel someone�s blood flowing through it,� he says, his face lighting up, �but until you feel it, you really don�t get a sense of what that�s like.� Dr. Yolanda Becker, assistant professor of surgery who performs transplants, noticed that Cordes had a talent for finding veins. �I tell the students, �you have to feel them; you just can�t look.� For Tim, that was not an option.� Becker soon became one more member of Tim Cordes� fan club. �He was a breath of fresh air,� she says. �He appreciated the fact people took time with him to feel the pulse, feel the grafts, feel where the kidneys are. He asked very good questions.� Cordes� training included observing surgery, helping treat psychiatric patients at a veteran�s hospital, and traveling beyond the hospital walls to the rural corners of Wisconsin. For six weeks, he experienced the front lines of medicine with Dr. Ben Schmidt, accompanying him from house calls to the hospital, tending to everything from heart trouble to chicken scratches. They took time, too, to indulge Cordes� passion for cars. Cordes, who reads Road & Track and Car and Driver magazines faithfully, is a Porsche fan. Knowing that, an internist in Schmidt�s clinic brought her husband�s metallic gray Turbo 911 to work one day. Schmidt took the wheel, roaring down the road with Cordes in the passenger seat, his keen hearing detecting the sounds of the valves opening up. Cordes also enjoys camping and canoeing with his fiancée, Blue-leaf Hannah (her exotic first name comes from a character in Centennial, a James Michener novel). They met when both interviewed for medical school. �I was just mostly curious how he was going to do it,� she says. �I must have asked him a million questions.� �I figured she was just sizing up the competition,� he teases. She was impressed. �He was smart and pretty modest,� she says. �Handsome, too,� he adds. �Yes, handsome,� she laughs. They began dating and will marry this fall. It�s a match made for Mensa. Hannah is now in medical school. She already has a Ph.D. in pharmacology; her dissertation was on a human protein implicated in heart disease called thrombospondin. �Too long for a Scrabble game,� Cordes jokes. The two have talked about starting a research lab together someday. Looking back on medical school, Cordes says he savored the chance to help deliver babies and observe surgery, things he�s probably not going to do again. �I just made it a point to treasure them while I had them,� he says. He once thought he�d become a researcher but is now considering psychiatry and internal medicine. �The surprise for me was how much I liked dealing with the human side,� he says. �It took a little work to get over. I�m kind of a shy guy.� Cordes plans to attend graduation ceremonies in May. For now, he�s humble about his latest milestone. �I might be the front man in the show but there were a lot of people involved,� he says. �Everybody was giving a good effort for me and I wanted to do right by them.� for this and much more. check out my website www.mugambipaul.com
Wednesday, 23 May 2018
Everyone’s so busy these days! We wake up, we go to work, we have to stop by Time Warner after work to drop off that old router, then an old friend wants to catch up, then our boss surprises us by letting us know we need to turn in that report tonight, and by then it’s 11 PM and when are you going to have any time to work out or work on that startup idea you had? At least, it seems that way. When you ask folks if they’d like to spend time together, we all hear the same thing: “I don’t have the time.” It’s possible they’re telling a white lie to get out of spending time with you. That they do have the time, but they’d rather spend it getting some work done, so they have more time to spend with someone else, later. But if that’s the case, there are an awful lot of people around telling that white lie. I suspect that we’re not all telling lies to each other; we’re telling a lie to ourselves. The lie is that we don’t have enough time to do everything. So, whatever gets added to the calendar first is what gets done. The fact of the matter is, we all have the same amount of time. Elon Musk runs three billion dollar companies with the same twenty-four hours you use to drop clothes off at the dry cleaner and grab a sandwich at Wendy’s. If you aren’t able to do what you want to be done in that twenty-four hours, the problem isn’t your calendar; it’s you. That’s the secret this headline promised. But it needs to be explaining. What does it mean that you’re the problem? Well, if you’re complaining that you never have enough time, you’re probably packing your day with high-time, low-reward activities. Most people in Kenya do. In fact, many such activities in Kenya are considered valuable. Activities like: list of 4 items •Stopping in on social media. Most folks pause throughout their day here or there to message someone, send some snapchats, scroll down their Twitter feed — but combined, these take up 3.8 hours of your day. That is four solid hours you could be spending with friends, reading that book you have sitting on your nightstand, or finishing up that home improvement project. (If you want to learn how much time you as an individual waste on social media, RescueTime can tell you). •On a related note, pulling out your phone. What can feel like five minutes of wasting time can often be upwards of fifteen minutes (or more). For the average Kenyan, this adds up to four hours of the day. There is some overlap between phone and social media use — but not as much as you hope. And it turns out most of us underestimate our phone use. To see how much time you spend on your phone, download an app that will tell you. •Driving. Driving to and from work is a necessary evil, but many people waste a lot more time driving around running unimportant errands. In the age of Masoko by Safaricom, jumuia upcoming uber the most significant way to waste time is driving half an hour to a store and back to buy something that can be packaged and shipped to your house (for less money, I might add). Many major grocery chains also offer grocery services where they pick the items off the shelves for you. All you have to do is show up at the store and have them load the bags into your car. This can save you multiple hours a day of driving. •Puttering around. This includes activities like: Standing in front of your fridge, staring into its depths as if it has the answers to life’s great questions. Sitting in front of the TV and watching whatever it happens to be playing for a few minutes. Staring into your closet wondering what clothes to wear for today. These activities have little to no value in your life, and yet they take up valuable mental energy. list That bulleted list makes it seem so simple. Most of these time-wasting activities are easy to spot. It’s so easy for me to sit here and write “stop doing these things!” And yet, people still do these things. Why? We’re forced to conclude that it isn’t the wasted time that concerns people. In my case, I spend time running errands because there is nothing, in particular, I’d rather be doing. So the problem isn’t that I don’t have enough time; it’s that I don’t have the will to do something else. But if we’re wasting time, turning off our brains, why not go whole hog? Regarding relaxing, spending two hours watching a movie is always more rewarding then spending two hours browsing low-performing HuffPo articles. I suspect that it is because we are not willing to turn off. There is a pressure in Kenyan culture to go-go-go, to be doing, creating, achieving. There is no space in Kenyan culture for relaxation, for watching a movie. Sure, we do these things, but we always say we’re doing these things with a tone of apology. There’s an implicit understanding that the ‘ideal’ action is to be working, and that relaxing is an unwanted but necessary part of existence, like getting sick or having bowel movements. It’s regrettable that Kenyans feel ashamed of this because relaxation is as sweet and valuable a part of life as work. When we feel ashamed of relaxation, we try to squeeze it out of our phones at work or social media at home, like teenage students trying to gossip when the teacher’s back is turned. There is no teacher. We are in charge of ourselves. It’s time to let ourselves know that it’s okay to take a break. This is how people waste their time. Instead of working, or relaxing, people drift off and spend their time in between. It slips away from them without their knowledge. Then they come out of the trance, dazed and blinking, wondering where the hell the day has gone. In previous ages, it wasn’t possible to fritter a day away this way. The farm needed working, the meat needed curing, the goat needed milking, and a million other things. On top of that, there were no phones or internet. If you weren’t working, you were staring at a blank wall. If your only other choice is crushing boredom, it’s pretty easy to choose work. In this day and age, it is the frittering which is so easy. Notifications blink and pop and bounce on our devices and the devices of everyone else around you. Other people bob their heads, ducking in and out of their phone like it’s their only source of air. It’s hard to resist the urge when everyone else is doing it as well. My call to action is this: permit yourself not to be doing. If you are going to be doing, do — don’t waste time on social media or driving around or standing in front of the mirror wondering which shirt you’re going to wear. And if you don’t want to, don’t — put on your nightie and rewatch House M.D. for the seventh time. Whatever you do, don’t waste time doing neither. you can visit my new website www.new.mugambipaul.com