Wednesday, 20 June 2018

some facts we need to know:

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.

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