NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 25 – Information Permanent Secretary Dr Bitange Ndemo has pledged to champion the formulation of ICT policies that empower people living with disabilities through technology.
Speaking after participating in a 30-minute workshop held in total darkness, the PS said the government should be proactive in taking measures that ensure a better future for the physically and mentally challenged.
“It is a very humbling experience where you become 100 percent dependent on those you are interacting with,” he said of his experience. “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,” he added.
He pointed out that this was particularly vital because reading materials for such people were still very expensive.
He said the 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.
The ‘Dialogue in the Dark’ workshop was organised by InABLE, a charitable organisation which has launched a computer lab program that will see them donate special computers in all the eight schools for the blind across the country.
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 bring the ‘Dialogue in the Dark’ to Kenya. We have over 300 students in the school but currently we have 100 students on our computer program,” she said of the initiative that has seen the children there learn how to use the computer and even access the net.
Through the programme, Ms Kirika said she hoped the Kenyans would learn that disability is not inability and everyone including the disadvantaged in the 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 assist them to break free from their own limitations.