- March 28, 2024

9-11 December 2023: International Disability Alliance (IDA), African Disability Forum, UDPK, in collaboration with ATScale, hosted a workshop titled “In-depth Workshop on Assistive Technology for Kenyan OPDs” in Nairobi, Kenya that showcased the transformative power of assistive technology for persons with disabilities and provided tools for advocacy to realize its full potential.    

The workshop was delivered under the project “Boosting AT User Engagement and Knowledge, Globally and Locally” being co-delivered by IDA and ATScale. The workshop aimed to strengthen capacities of Organizations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs) in assistive technology and to highlight the importance of persons with disabilities participating in design, delivery and policymaking related to assistive technology. Participants representing diverse disability constituencies such as persons with intellectual disabilities and persons with deafblindness attended the workshop from urban and rural areas of Kenya

Group photo of all participants from the workshop  

Group photo of all participants from the workshop

The sessions introduced Assistive Technology (AT) and its potential, such as enhancing autonomy, independence, employment opportunities, and participation while improving functionality. Participants explored how AT can aid children with accessing education, build communication, preserve dignity, and even save lives, also emphasizing its pivotal role in other aspects of life. Discussions also delved into the human rights frameworks surrounding AT, followed by a healthy debate on the significance of different forms of assistance—AT, human support, and accessible infrastructure—with the consensus that each form is vital in its own unique way.  

Participants examined AT within the frameworks of the CRPD and SDGs and assessed its availability, accessibility, adaptability, acceptability, and quality in Kenya. Additionally, they reflected on the role of financing and social protection in AT, emphasizing the need for funding at every stage of its lifecycle, from research and innovation to distribution, training and capacity building, and service provision.  

Participants interacting with each other during group activity

A two-part session of the workshop focused on enhancing national access to AT, where participants discussed the role played by OPDs in AT innovation, policy, and production. During the brainstorming sessions, participants identified major gaps in Kenya's AT ecosystem, including awareness, policy, lack of trained personnel, and financing.    

The workshop concluded with a stakeholder exchange featuring Bernard Chiira, Director of Innovate Now, a tech accelerator that works to launch and mentor producers and innovators of AT in African nations, and Douglas Injugu, Norway Network Lead Partnerships & Outreach. Chiira emphasized the need for innovation in African AT, urging the utilization of regional resources and talents to increase access to digital AT and impact education, livelihoods, and health.   

Reflecting on Bernard Chiira's insights, participants affirmed their right to benefit from scientific progress of AT, as outlined in Article 15 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. As OPD actors, they reiterated their commitment to advocate access to AT access without discrimination and meaningful participation in its innovation and production processes, while asserting their potential as allies in the AT arena.