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.