Kenya’s First Lady, Margaret Kenyatta, has called for digital inclusion for persons with disabilities with the aim of breaking down technological barriers which could prevent them from accessing a number of services.
The first Lady said these when she delivered the keynote address at the opening of the inaugural virtual Inclusive Africa Conference 2020. The event attracted over 1000 participants from across Africa.
She noted that the Covid-19 pandemic had necessitated the need for digital inclusion with more individuals and communities relying on technology to survive.
“Most affected by the pandemic have been vulnerable, blind and visually impaired persons who, due to their circumstances, have faced multiple forms of digital exclusion such as lack of computer assistive technology, inaccessible websites or online content,” the First Lady said.
The First Lady emphasized on the need to adopt regional and global best practices with the aim of improving digital access and inclusion for people with disabilities. She said that this would help them make their contribution to the country’s development.
“This is a concern for many other African countries because the dialogue around digital inclusion is only just emerging,” she said.
The first lady also lauded Kenya’s Ministry of ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs for its recent launch of a new inclusive National Information, Communication and Technology Policy. The policy prioritizes access and inclusion of technology for persons with disabilities.
“This new policy is a significant step in the development of new standards for digital accessibility and I look forward to its implementation,” the First Lady said.
The first lady also called for more investments into inventions that cater to children with disabilities. She said there is a need to equip them with modern technological capabilities from a young age.
“It is my hope that digital solutions and best practices will be adapted for easy access and affordability across Africa; and that more investment will be allocated towards education and digital training and employment of youth with disabilities,” the First Lady said.
The conference was organized by inABLE, a non governmental organization based in Kenya and the United States of America, that has been running programs to assist children with visual disability for the last 10 years.
ICT Principal Secretary Jerome Ochieng, also spoke at the event outlining the Government initiatives geared towards digital inclusivity.
Others who spoke included Ms Haben Girma, the first deaf-blind person to graduate from Harvard Law School and currently a disability rights lawyer and activist, Irene Mbari-Kirika, the Executive Director of inABLE, and Rama Gheerawo, the Director of the London-based Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design.