Harnessing the power of innovation for disability inclusion

A student on the Autism spectrum access content produced specially for children with disabilities using Virtual Reality Technology. Photo: Action for Children with Disabilities

According to the 2019 census, 2.2% (0.9 million people) of Kenyans live with some form of disability. Persons with disabilities have, under normal circumstances, challenges in accessing health care, education, employment, and many other services and opportunities. They are also nearly three times more likely to experience sexual violence than people without disabilities. These challenges are more pronounced during the pandemic due to the measures to control the virus’s transmission, impacting the socio-economic aspects of life and service delivery.

Early Childhood Development (ECD) teachers reviewing the Somesha Stories episodes, a platform that provides accessible child-friendly stories for early literacy and inclusive education for children with disabilities. Photo: The Action Foundation

From the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have witnessed Kenyans’ ingenuity to create solutions to the challenges posed by the crisis, cutting across sectors such as agriculture, health care, transport, commerce, and sanitation. These innovations validate Kenya as a hub of brilliance and creativity. However, access to innovation for many Kenyans, be it consumers or developers, remains unequal, with structural barriers within the innovation landscape still in existence. This is particularly so for persons with disabilities.

A facilitator presents to Early Childhood Development (ECD) teachers the Somesha Stories episodes a platform that provides accessible child-friendly stories for early literacy and inclusive education for children with disabilities. Photo: The Action Foundation

Innovation has and will continue to play a significant role in the country’s response and recovery to the COVID-19 pandemic. Investing in research, partnerships, and networking building and solutions can improve the lives and experiences of persons with disabilities is critical for an inclusive, resilient future.

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