Lissel Mogaka, Secretary State Department of Social Services in the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection and Nominated Senator Crystal Asige flag off racing bikes during the launch of an online information, support resources hub for caregivers and specialists for persons with disability. [James Wanzala, Standard]

People living with disabilities have every reason to smile after the government announced plans to establish a regional centre for assistive devices.

Labour and Social Protection Cabinet Secretary Florence Bore said the government, working in partnership with key stakeholders continues to enhance efforts to ensure that assistive technology continues to be developed.

This is to ensure the availability of affordable and appropriate assistive devices for persons with disability.

''Together with the Ministry of Health and with support from World Health Organisation (WHO) will very soon actualise the establishment of the regional centre for assistive technology at Jomo Kenyatta University of Technology (JKUAT),'' said Ms Bore.

She added: ''The main purpose of the centre is to produce affordable appropriate assistive devices and offer rehabilitative services to persons with disabilities within the country and the region.''

Ms Bore said this in a speech read on her behalf by Lissel Mogaka, Secretary, of the State Department of Social Development at the University of Nairobi during the flagging off of 11 cyclists.

The cyclists under ''Ride for Autism Africa'' will ride to Kilifi County, covering a distance of 540kms ahead of the celebration of World Autism Awareness Day on Sunday.

The flagging-off event was organised by Andy Speaks, The Standard Group PLC, University of Nairobi among other sponsors.

It also saw children with disability given free support services by the Kenya Institute of Special Education (KISE).

To enable the National Council for Persons with Disabilities (NCPD) to deliver on its mandate of empowering persons with disabilities, she said the government will continue strengthening and supporting the Council to achieve its objectives through the provision of adequate resources.

''This year, the government has allocated Sh70 million to specifically implement programmes for persons with Autism,'' she said.

Nominated Senator Chrystal Asige called for support of children with disabilities integrated education and exposure.

''I am currently working on several Bills including the Persons With Disabilities Bill, Kenya Sign Language Bill both at the public participation stage, and Learners with Disability Bill to enhance the lives of persons with disabilities in Kenya and help also change attitudes from those without disability,'' said Ms Asige.

University of Nairobi vice chancellor Prof Stephen Kiama said they have partnered with Andy Speaks to reach out to the larger community to help in the mobilisation of Sh5 million to be used in setting up and equipping a therapy centre in Kilifi County.

Prof Kiama, through University's chief operating officer Brian Ouma, said during the UoN CSR/Health Week that started on Friday that it is going to do free medical camps in Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu.

During the flagging of cyclists, Andy Speaks for Special Needs Persons launched an information, resource and support hub.

The hub, according to Andy Speaks for Special Needs Persons founder Dr Sylvia Mochabo, will be useful to caregivers of people with disabilities.

''Eight per cent of the phone calls we get are from parents and caregivers include questions like which school or hospital to take one's son or daughter for assessment services, therapy, among others and today we have all those answers under this hub,'' said Dr Mochabo.