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First Lady: Take IT closer to disabled

By James Wanzala | October 9th 2020

First Lady Margaret Kenyatta (pictured) has called for better digital inclusion for persons with disabilities, to eliminate technological barriers that prevent them from accessing services.

The First Lady said the need for digital solutions has been amplified by the Covid-19 pandemic which has made it necessary for communities and businesses to rely on access to the internet, smart technology and online services to survive.

“Most affected by the pandemic have been the 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,” she noted.

The First Lady spoke yesterday when she delivered the keynote address at the opening of the inaugural virtual Inclusive Africa Conference 2020 that attracted over 1,000 participants from across Africa.

The conference was organised by inABLE, a non-governmental organisation based in Kenya and the US, that has been running initiatives to assist children with visual disability for the last 10 years.

The First Lady said there is need to adopt regional and global best practices to ensure young people with disabilities are not left behind in contributing to Kenya’s development.

She expressed concern that digital services and products that fully cater for the needs of persons with disabilities were still lacking in many areas.

“This is a concern for many other African countries because the dialogue around digital inclusion is only just emerging,” she said.

She lauded Kenya’s Ministry of ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs for its recent launch of a new National Information, Communication and Technology Policy that prioritises access and inclusion of technology for persons with disabilities.

Principal Secretary for ICT Jerome Ochieng said the government had installed over 9,000 kilometres of fibre optic cable connecting all counties and sub-county headquarters to boost digital access.

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