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Kenya’s ICT policies to empower the visually impaired

September 28, 2010 • Mobile and Telecoms

Bitange Ndemo, Kenya Information and Communication Secretary

Kenya’s information permanent secretary has pledged to push for the formation of ICT policies that will empower Kenyans living with disabilities.

Dr Bitange Ndemo said the government would be proactive in taking measures that ensure a better future for the physically and mentally challenged.

He was speaking at a workshop whose theme was “Dialogue in the Dark”, organized by InABLE, a charitable organisation which has launched a computer lab programme that will see them donate special computers in all the eight schools for the blind across the country.

“It is a very humbling experience where you become 100 percent dependent on those you are interacting with, but it is a good lesson for us in government because it would help us to shape policy for our people who are visually impaired,” Ndemo said.

He pointed out that this was particularly vital as reading material for blind people were still very expensive.

Ndemo said government lauds and welcomes the private sector such as an operator who will soon launch software that will enable the blind to access the Internet.

“This is good but the government has to find ways to enable especially those who are visually impaired to pursue education just like any other children, so what we will begin to fight for is to have policies that are friendly to helping those among us who are disadvantaged,” he added.

InABLE’s Founder Irene Kirika said this initiative would go a long way towards enabling the country achieve its vision of providing quality education for all.

“Thika School for the Blind was the inspiration behind bringing the “Dialogue in the Dark” to Kenya. We have over 300 students in the school but currently we have 100 students on our computer programme,” she said of the initiative that has seen blind children learn how to use the computer and even access the net.

Through the programme, Kirika said she hoped Kenyans would learn that disability is not inability and everyone including the disadvantaged in society deserves equal opportunities.

“Dialogue in the Dark” takes place in a pitch-black environment and forces participants to cope with a temporary loss of one sense and eventually drives them to look inwards and get in touch with their core values.

To participants, this encounter brings outs virtues, values, skills, gratitude, humility and appreciation for those who are different from them and in that way assists them to break free from their own limitations.

BRIAN ADERO in Nairobi, Kenya

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