The Digital Accessibility program, which started a year ago as ICT Access and Equality for Persons with Disabilities, have seen a myriad of achievements in the digital space in Kenya and beyond. Looking back, and in celebration of the program’s first anniversary, the programs team, this time around on their bi-monthly X (formerly Twitter) Space held a candid discussion on the impact the program and its projects have had on KICTANet’s works and the ICT space, locally and globally.
The speakers in the space consisted of KICTANet Staff Catherine Kyalo, Angela Minayo and Meshack Masibo.
Before kicking off the discussion, it was great to reflect on the journey of digital accessibility in KICTANet and how it has influenced the ICT space.
KICTANet’s commitment to digital accessibility has had a significant impact on the organization’s projects and works. By ensuring that all its programs, projects and digital content are accessible to people with disabilities, KICTANet has expanded its reach and made its work more inclusive.
One of the most notable impacts of KICTANet’s digital accessibility program is the increased engagement of people with disabilities in the organization’s work. By working with persons with disabilities and embracing inclusivity, KICTANet has opened up its works on policy, stakeholder engagement, advocacy and capacity building to a wider audience, including those who may have previously been excluded.
Furthermore, KICTANet’s focus on digital accessibility has also led to an increase in the quality of the organization’s work. This has ensured accessible digital content and improved the overall participation and engagement of persons with disabilities in the ICT space.
Overall, KICTANet’s commitment to digital accessibility is a testament to the organization’s dedication to inclusivity and equity. By prioritizing accessibility in its work, KICTANet is making a positive impact on the lives of people with disabilities and setting an example for other organizations to follow.
#KICTANet Space – The Impact of Accessibility and Equality Fellowship.
Focusing on the Digital Accessibility’s Twitter Space discussion on the impact this program has had on ensuring digital accessibility and equality, it is evident that this fellowship has positively influenced the perception and understanding of persons with disabilities in cyberspace.
Adding to this, Catherine Kyalo an Africa Regional Coordinator at KICTANet for Local Access Networks, whose work is within Kenya and beyond the borders, remarked that through various interactions with the program team, physically, virtually and through blogs and publications, it has come to her realization that most institutions have been putting much focus on persons with disabilities as a marginalized group in the community network space, using the same approach and concept as that placed on gender diverse persons, women, economically disadvantaged communities, people in rural communities and refugees. There has not been much effort in the community network space on inclusion. A factor that cannot be attributed to ignorance but to a lack of exposure and interactions that would force them to act and open up inclusion conversation.
Additionally, this lack of direct interactions with the affected individuals leads to a failure to understand their needs and means of addressing them amicably. An element that stems from the Social-cultural approach and consisting of stigma and discrimination.
Similarly, low digital literacy and the sparing existence of special schools more so in rural communities have contributed to the slow uptake of digital inclusion and its associated services. Also, some of the programs and technologies designed to help persons with disabilities are unaffordable.
In some cases, organizations and programs running in these communities use applications and platforms that are inaccessible, non-inclusive, and non-accommodative to persons with disabilities, widening the digital divide gap further.
According to Miss Kyalo, the above factors have led to minimal participation of individuals with disabilities in the digital space resulting in less sensitisation of their needs and reduced innovations in breaking the digital barriers.
She is glad that this program has opened the discussion on inclusivity and set the stage towards the growing advocacy on digital inclusion.
Access the full conversation here: Digital Accessibility at KICTANet
Nicodemus Nyakundi is an ICT Access and Equality Fellow for PWDs at KICTANet. He has a background in IT and advocates for digital inclusivity.