KICTANet-CA Technical workshop participants on Internet and Disability posing fora group photo.

Digital Inclusion for All Requires A Deliberate Mind Shift

“To speak around digital inclusion,” as some experts say, “requires a deliberate mind shift.” 

Today, Kenya is demonstrating this very shift with its commitment to creating a more inclusive digital society, particularly for people with disabilities (PWDs).

This was emphasised at the opening of the 5-days workshop held in Nairobi jointly by KICTANet in partnership with the Communication Authority of Kenya (CA) targeting representatives from various stakeholder groups with a focus on accessibility for people with disabilities.

The workshop whose objective is to increase awareness and Identify appropriate regulatory interventions to accelerate ICT accessibility for PWDs emphasises that accessibility is not a luxury but a necessity for equal participation in the digital world.


Across the day, discussions focused on consumer protection, education and empowerment, EU regulatory frameworks as a key driver for digital accessibility, how to find, and use accessibility features on devices, web standards and access to information in Kenya were reinforced by insights from the specialists in the field Mr Ricardo Garcia Bahamnde from Atos, Ms Caroline Murianki, for Director/ Public Education and Awareness Department CA, Mr John Walubengo, and Mr Derick Simiyu Khamali , CA Principal Officer Compliance and Enforcement focused on leveraging technology to enhance accessibility across various sectors like education, employment, and consumer rights.

Discussions emphasised the role of organizations, governments and institutions in driving accessibility. Many organizations are likely to be impacted by accessibility regulations, making them key players in its deployment.

Mr Ricardo noted that the concept of “accessibility as pollution” highlights how inaccessible technology, similar to factory pollution, is a negative byproduct of the design and production process. 

As a result, a consensus was to emphasise the need to proactively design accessible products and services from the outset.

Assistive Technologies

Mr John Walubengo and Ms Sabine Lobnig, mobile and Wireless Forum (MWF) urged technical people to be deliberate in adopting standards that promote the use of assistive technologies to empower persons with disabilities and enhance their overall well-being.

“Many accessible and assistive features are now integrated into consumer devices,” noted Sabine adding that today there is an increased blend of assistive technology and mainstream technology.

Consumer Protection in the Digital Age

From a regulatory perspective, Ms Murianki disclosed that the digital economy offers a wealth of benefits for consumers, from convenience, increased variety and choice and improved customer experiences.

Despite existing accessibility standards, legal mandates, and international efforts, Kenya faces challenges in ensuring digital inclusion for PWDs.

For instance, the 2022 Analytical Report on Disability by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) reveals a stark disparity: only 11% of PWDs have internet access compared to 22% of the non-disabled population.

Consumers continue to face increased concerns about data privacy, exposure to online risks and vulnerabilities and pressures to acquire skills to adapt to a changing digital landscape.

“Different digital realm laws must be consistent in terms of accessibility mandates to avoid market fragmentation, lack of accessibility mandate compliance and ultimately violation of consumer rights and exclusion of many people with disabilities,” says Ricardo.

Building Consumer Confidence and Trust

To address the above concerns and empower consumers, Ms. Murianki proposes equipping consumers with knowledge to navigate the digital landscape safely and securely; ensuring consumers understand what they are buying and how it works.

Secondly, need to establish robust safeguards against fraud and exploitation. Prioritizing data protection and minimizing online risks. Encouraging a healthy competitive environment that benefits consumers and Ensuring businesses adhere to regulations and best practices.

“The International Telecommunications Union, which is the ICT arm of the United Nations, has issued guidelines on how to ensure that digital information services and products are accessible to all people. In this regard, the ITU calls its members, which can help us to establish an enabling environment that ensures accessible telecommunications and ICTs for all including persons with disabilities,” said Murianku.

Collaboration is Key

Effective consumer protection requires collaboration between government, civil society, and the private sector as crucial to bridging the digital divide and ensuring a safe and inclusive online environment for all.

CA is committed to increasing ICT access, consumer protection, and empowerment. They recognize PWDs as vulnerable consumers and are developing programs to address these challenges aligned with its five-year strategic plan (2023-2027). 

KICTANet has also been a key player in promoting digital accessibility through various initiatives, including: Integrating disability concerns into national and global ICT policies and researching accessibility of Kenyan government websites and barriers to ICT faced by PWDs.



David Indeje information

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