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Assistive Technology For The Visually Impaired In Africa

by Femme Staff
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To further the advancement of digital accessibility and computer assistive technology in Africa, the NGO organization inABLE organized the second-annual Inclusive Africa Conference on September 30, 2021. The theme was Advancing Digital Accessibility and Assistive Technology Inclusion in Africa. This year’s conference was sponsored by Google, Facebook, Safaricom PLC, FSD Kenya, Salesforce and T-Mobile.

The Keynote Speaker Amb. Eric Kneedler, Ambassador, US Embassy in Kenya shared the importance of digital accessibility stating “inABLE’s tireless advocacy and programming is testament to what we all know to be true and the reason we are coming together today to recognize the inclusive society is a strong and prosperous one. This year’s theme advancing digital accessibility and Assistive inclusion in Africa, comes at particularly important time. The pandemic has altered the way we do business. We have worked from home relying on online platforms and technology to meet each other to conduct research and business deals and to manage personal and professional lives. As we consider the future of interaction and innovation, it is vital that we ensure all members of our communities have equal access and ability to use these tools and resources”.

The conference brought together global and regional experts to discuss the best way to elevate inclusive design and implement accessibility standards in Africa, and the impact of digital accessibility on: Employment, Education, Government services, Financial Services, and Mobile Assistive Technology innovations.

 “At inABLE, we envision a world where individuals with disabilities have access to the same education, employment and life opportunities as the non-disabled. This is our second virtual conference on digital accessibility and inclusion in Africa and we are also privileged to have so many African and international expert speakers to inform our discussions. Accessibility and inclusion is a great collaborative effort and there is a need for local and international engagement. We cannot survive without each other.” explains inABLE Founder and Executive Director Irene Mbari-Kirika.

The speaker faculty included: The Keynote Speaker- Amb. Eric Kneedler- Ambassador at US Embassy in Kenya, Mr. Christopher Patnoe- Lead Program Manager, Accessibility Programs, Google; Mr. Fred Haga, Director Special needs at Ministry of Education in Kenya; Ms. Yetnebersh Nigussie- Children with disabilities Program specialist at UNICEF; Mr. Rama Gheerawo- Director, Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design and the RCA Reader in Inclusive Design; Mr. Bernard Chiira- Director, Director at Innovate Now Assistive Tech Accelerator; and Ms. Deepti Samant Raja- Social Development Specialist at World Bank.

 inABLE also received partner support from seven disability organizations in Africa including;

  • National Council of Persons with Disabilities (NCPWD)- Kenya
  • Blind SA- South Africa
  • The Federation of Ethiopian Associations of Persons with Disabilities (FEAPD)- Ethiopia
  • Federation of Disability Organizations in Malawi (FEDOMA)- Malawi
  • Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD)- Nigeria
  • National Union of Disabled Persons in Uganda (NUDIPU)- Uganda
  • Ghana Federation of Disability Organizations- (GFD)
  • Zambia Federation Organizations for Disability (ZAFOD)- Zambia

To recognize the development of assistive technology products and inclusive digital innovations that improve the lives of everyone in Africa, inABLE also invited African innovators to submit their innovations and sign up for the second Digital Accessibility Innovations Award. The first ever Digital Accessibility Innovations Awardee Hudson Asiema, Co-Founder/CEO of Deaf ELimuPlus Limited, won $10,000.

The 2021 conference has been sponsored by Google, Safaricom PLC among others. The agenda and 2021 speakers will be listed soon on the website. The virtual conference will also be made accessible through live captions, sign language and translation in English and French.

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