Reprogrammable braille could shrink books to a few pages”  

Reprogrammable braille could shrink books to a few pages
Elastic bits with memory could eliminate the need for gigantic volumes.

Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
07.24.18 in AV
Braille hdisplays have made the digital world more accessible to those with vision issues, but readers who prefer the portability of a book haven’t had
that upgrade. Even a typical book might require over a dozen volumes of braille paper, which rules out reading during a summer vacation. Harvard researchers
could shoon whittle that down to a far more convenient size, though, as they’ve crafted reprogrammable braille that could eliminate the need for unique
pages without the bulk of a display.
The concept is straightforward. The team compressed a thin, curved elastic shell using forces on each end, and then made indents with a basic stylus (similar
to how you print a conventional braille book). Once you remove the compression, the shell ‘remembers’ the indents. You can erase them just by stretching
the shell. It sounds simple, but it’s incredibly flexible: in its tests, Harvard could control the number, position and chronological order of the indents.
There’s no lattice holding it up, and it works with everything from conventional paper to super-thin graphene.
This is still rudimentary. While you can store memories in the shells, you can’t perform computing tasks with them. You’d need a more sophisticated platform
to control page changes. If that happens, though, braille books could be considerably more accessible. That could be helpful for long trips where you’re
searching for something to read, but it might also be incredibly valuable for schools that could easily send braille literature home with students.
Harvard’s concept for reprogrammable braille
Bottom

Lessons for disabled organizations as they await the appointment of board of directors to the NCPWD

What lesson can the disabled persons in Kenya learn as they await the appointment of board of directors to the NCPWD:

Generally speaking, most of the organizations of persons with disabilities are facing a marid of challenges. Ranging from lack of capacity, poor resource mobilization and leadership rangles.
All along it’s a reflection of the society.
The lack of proper governance in most disabled organizations has put a morror of whats needs to be done.]its high time government disabled stakeholders gave a thought of enhancing governnce and support changemakers.
As we gear towards the new dawn in the government own body.
There are a lot of
a lot of discussion’s going on.
There is lots of lobbing wich include inner and secret campaigns ae ongoing to ensure the NCPWD gets a formidable leader to take the semiautonomous body to the next level.
Queries which public policy makers are asking themselves include?
Will the appointing authority provide a roadmap of ensuring the qualified and empowered person with disabilities are given the chance to lead?
Will the political rejects be offered a lifeline under the board as is common practice in parastatals?
Will the disability persons organizations lobby for their own?
Will the citizen with disabilities enjoy enhanced service delivery?
As a matter of fact, in respect to the UNCRPD, the disability ACT 2003 many disabled persons expect nothing but the best persons to be granted the opportunity to steer the wheel of development.

As this below master piece elaborates.
All that glitters are not gold.
Read to understand.

A disability charity’s decision to choose as its new chair the head of a company closely linked with the government’s hated “fitness for work” test has
been branded “a betrayal” of disabled people and “a truly disgraceful appointment”.

United Response,
which provides a range of support services to about 3,000 disabled people across England and Wales, this week announced the appointment of management consultant
Malcolm McCaig (pictured).

McCaig has been a non-executive director of Unum UK since July 2009 and was appointed to chair the company’s board last year.

But Unum has spent decades attempting to influence UK government policy on welfare reform and is blamed by many disabled researchers and activists for
pushing successive governments to make the process of applying for out-of-work disability benefits harsher and more stressful.

Those policies have been closely linked to the deaths of countless benefit claimants and with causing significant harm to the physical and mental health
of many others.

Campaigners argue that Unum has spent years trying to undermine the social security system to boost the market for its own income protection insurance
(IPI) policies.

In 2011, Unum launched a major UK marketing campaign to promote the need for IPI policies, just as the coalition began its three-year programme to reassess
about 1.5 million existing claimants of old-style incapacity benefit through the new work capability assessment (WCA).

United Response this week celebrated the appointment of its new chair, describing him as “a strong advocate of diversity and inclusion” who would be “a
major asset to the organisation”.

But Mo Stewart, the disabled researcher who has done most to raise concerns about Unum’s influence on welfare reform*, described McCaig’s appointment as
“an insult to the chronically ill and disabled people being coerced and intimidated by the DWP, who used Unum as advisers for welfare reforms that have
caused death, despair and destitution for those in greatest need in the UK”.

Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC)
described the appointment as “a betrayal of all the disabled people and their families who have suffered under the work capability assessment”.

A DPAC spokesperson added: “More than that, though, we consider it active collusion in Unum’s interest in replacing the UK social security net with an
insurance system from which they will profit and disabled people will be harmed.

“Given Unum’s history in the US of denying disability in order to avoid pay-outs this is a truly disgraceful appointment.”

Rick Burgess,
another leading disabled activist, said: “Given Unum’s reputation in being a ‘disability denial factory’ and its role in abusive disability welfare changes,
this appointment is completely inappropriate, unless of course United Response plans on replicating Unum’s approach to disabled people.”

It is also not the first time Unum has courted links with the disability sector.

Two years ago, the Mental Health Foundation was heavily criticised for launching a partnership with Unum that aimed to tackle the stigma of mental health
in the workplace and encourage employers to safeguard the mental health of their employees.

Unum’s links with the UK government date back to the 1990s, when Peter Lilley, social security secretary in John Major’s Conservative government, hired
senior Unum executive John LoCascio to offer advice on how to cut the number of claimants of long-term sickness benefits.

A
detailed memo
submitted to the Commons work and pensions committee in 2002 by a director of Unum – then known as UnumProvident – called on the Labour government to
“ensure both that work always pays more than benefits, and more importantly that it is clearly seen to do so”.

And in 2005, Unum bragged in a document that it had “always been at the leading edge of disability assessment and management”, and that government policy
was now “moving in the same direction” as “our views and understanding” and was “to a large extent being driven by our thinking and that of our close associates”.

Three years later, in 2008, the Labour government introduced the WCA.

Stewart said McCaig’s appointment “disregards the history of this American corporate giant, the fact that they were official government advisers from 1992
regarding ‘welfare claims management’ which influenced the introduction of employment and support allowance and the notorious WCA”.

She also pointed out that Unum
was accused of operating a “disability denial” agenda
by a professor at Yale Law School and was
identified by the American Association for Justice
as being the second worst insurance company in America.

In 2005, California’s insurance commissioner, John Garamendi,
described Unum Provident as “an outlaw company”
that had “engaged in a strategy to increase its bottom line at the expense of its customers”.

The company has previously admitted widespread criticism of its past actions in the US, mainly over its refusal to pay out on large numbers of genuine
insurance claims by disabled people, a record also mentioned five years ago
in a Commons debate on the WCA.

Unum also sponsored Cardiff University’s Centre for Psychosocial and Disability Research for four years.

That research, said Stewart, led to
the fatally flawed biopsychosocial (BPS) model
of assessment on which the WCA is based.

Unum has repeatedly dismissed claims that it pushed the government to introduce the WCA system,
and two years ago
even claimed that it “never has lobbied on the topic of welfare reform or related matters”.

United Response failed to respond to the concerns about Unum.

But Tim Cooper, the charity’s chief executive, said: “Malcolm is an outstanding individual whose background and vast experience will prove invaluable in
leading United Response and helping it achieve its vision.

“We undertook an extensive recruitment process resulting in an incredibly strong shortlist of candidates, and Malcolm’s skill set and demonstrable understanding
of the charity led to his appointment.”

*Stewart’s book,
Cash Not Care,
details Unum’s influence over successive UK governments, and how it led to the introduction of the WCA

Lesson la Activist toka kwa aPunda

One day a farmer’s donkey fell down into a
well. The animal cried piteously for hours as
the farmer tried to figure out what to do.
Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the
well needed to be covered up anyway;
it just wasn’t worth it to retrieve the donkey.
 
He invited all his neighbors to come over
and help him.. They all grabbed a shovel and began
to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the
donkey realized what was happening and cried
horribly. Then, to everyone’s amazement he
quieted down.
 
A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally
looked down the well. He was astonished at what
he saw. With each shovel of dirt that hit his
back, the donkey was doing something amazing.
He would shake it off and take a step up.
 
As the farmer’s neighbors continued to shovel
dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it
off and take a step up.
 
Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey
stepped up over the edge of the well and
happily trotted off!
 
Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds 
of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well 
is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of 
our troubles is a steppingstone. We can get out 
of the deepest wells just by not stopping, 
never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up.
 
Remember the five simple rules to be happy:
 
Free your heart from hatred – Forgive.
 
Free your mind from worries – Most never happen.
 
Live simply and appreciate what you have.
 
Give more.
 
Expect less. 
Love.

Economics of disabilities; what we’re not told Kenyan story

July 24th 2018 the UK government, in partnership with Kenya and the International Disability Alliance (IDA), co-hosted the first ever high level global
disability summit in London. The aim of the meeting was to galvanise global efforts to address disability inclusion.
The summit brought together more than 700 delegates from governments, donors, private sector organisations, charities and organisations for persons with
disabilities. Mr Ukur Yattani, the Cabinet Secretary for Labour and Social Protection led the Kenyan team.

Globally, one out of every seven people live with some form of disability, the majority in low and middle-income countries. In these settings, disability
is both a cause and consequence of poverty because people with disabilities often face significant barriers that prevent them from participating fully
in society, including accessing health services and attaining education and employment.

According to the World Health Organisation, about six million Kenyans are persons with disabilities. The Kenya National Survey for Pwds, 2008, says nearly
80 per cent of these six million people live in rural areas where they experience social and economic disadvantages and denial of rights. Their lives are
made more difficult by the way society interprets and reacts to disability. In addition to these barriers, Kenya still lacks a policy that operationalises
laws on disability. The National Disability Policy has remained as a draft since 2006!

But let us look at disability from different frames. Have we thought about the significant contribution in the economy made by people with disability as
consumers, employers, assistive technology developers, mobility aid manufacturers and academics among others? According to Global Economics of Disability,
2016 report, the disability market is the next big consumer segment globally — with an estimated population of 1.3 billion. Disabled persons constitute
an emerging market the size of China and controlling $1 trillion in annual disposable income.

Do people working directly in these industries pay taxes? Does anyone have an idea of the revenue — direct or indirect— collected by government from disability
industries, organisations, import duty charges on assistive devices and other materials used by persons with disabilities? What of the multiplier effect
of the sector; transporters, warehouses, and PWDs themselves who are active spenders and who pay both direct and indirect taxes.

SH40 BILLION

Just look at it this way; six million Kenyans (going by WHO’s estimate) are persons with disabilities and its assumed about two million of them are wheelchair
users. The cheapest outdoor wheelchair fabricated locally is about Sh20,000, translating to a staggering Sh40 billion! Imagine the rest using crutches,
hearing aides, white canes, braille services and costs of hiring personal assistance. Undoubtly, this is a huge market.

The contribution of people with disabilities far outweighs what is allocated to them through affirmative/charity considerations.

President Mwai Kibaki signed The Persons with Disabilities Act, 2003, in what turned out to be the most unprecedented disability legal framework in Kenya.
The Act led to creation of a State agency called the National Council for Persons with Disability. During his second term in office (May 2008), Kenya ratified
the United Nation Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability.

MEANINGFUL PARTICIPATION

One fact that most people have glossed over is the allocation given to the National Council for Persons with Disabilities, compared to the contribution
made by PWDs to the social, political and economic spheres in the country. But then, in Kenya, studies to ascertain the actual contribution of disability
as a sector have not been conducted.

We must change the narrative of disability for us not to leave out this vibrant community in development and other spheres of life. Disability must be
viewed not as a burden but as a part of diversity, like any other. Disability is not about someone’s impairment but rather about a barrier – environment
and attitudinal – in front of this person to freely and meaningfully participate in the society.
By a Guest writer
HARUN M. HASSAN

17 Easy Ways To Make A Blind AKA mpofu Person’s Day

1. When introducing yourself, use loud, exaggerated speech. Since we’re
blind, it’s safe to assume we’re a little dim, too.

2. Don’t speak directly to us. It’s always best to talk over our heads like
we’re not there at all, especially if you are offering a service. Example:
“What would she like to order?” Be sure to ignore our attempts to answer
for
ourselves.

3. Grab or otherwise manipulate our bodies whenever and wherever you deem
necessary. For example, if you intuitively perceive that we’re going the
wrong way (even if you haven’t asked where that is) just snatch the nearest
limb and lead on, Macduff!

4. If you aren’t in a position to grab us, you can always shout
instructions
in the hope that we’ll know what you’re talking about. If we look baffled,
just keep repeating the instructions in an increasingly frantic tone. We’ll
clue in eventually.

5. Remind us often how grateful we should be that people are willing to
provide accommodations for us. While it’s unlikely that we will ever, ever
forget this for more than five minutes at a time, it’s a good idea to slam
the thought home when we’re not expecting it. It builds character.

6. Stage loud conversations about us while we’re in the room, because we
won’t hear. If we hear, it’s okay, because we won’t understand. If we
understand, it’s okay, because we won’t care.

7. Keep all conversation firmly focused on blindness. If we try to
interject
by discussing our education or interests, just redirect us. We get carried
away trying to be all normal, so it’s helpful to keep us on track!

8. Be sure to describe all the other blind people you’ve ever met, in
extravagant detail. We couldn’t be more fascinated by that blind guy who
skied, and that other blind guy who went to school with you, and that blind
girl you met on the train once-the one with the cute puppy.

9. Make a habit of asking us why we’re “here”. If we’re on the bus, ask us
why we’re out alone. If we’re at work, ask us how we got the job. If we’re
in class, ask us why we’re in university. If we seem offended, ignore us:
deep down inside, we really enjoy presumptuous interrogation!

10. Dispense advice about how we should live our lives; the less you know
us, the more valuable your feedback will be. If you need a good starting
point, you can begin by analyzing our mobility tool of choice (cane or dog)
and emphatically demanding that we switch. We love that.

11. Involve yourself in our love lives, specifying exactly the type of
person we should date and why. If you think we should date a sighted person
because they’ll be able to take care of us, we’ll want to hear all about it.
If you think we should date a blind person because we should “stick to our
own kind” we will be all ears!

12. Give us things-money, coupons, whatever-because you pity us and want to
make our day better. Don’t be phased by any apparent expressions of
confusion. (“Oh, that’s just my gratitude face!”)

13. Stop us on the street and thank whomever we’re with for helping/taking
care of/being so kind to us. It’s not as though we have real friends who
genuinely enjoy our company. No: if we’re out with a sighted person, they
are fulfilling a purely charitable role. They will appreciate your praise,
and we will feel extra extra grateful!

14. Place your hands on us in any public place and pray. If we gently
explain that we don’t want to be prayed for, rest assured that it’s just
the
secular cynicism doing the talking. When our sight is miraculously
restored,
you’ll be the first to know.

15. Make as many potentially dangerous practical jokes as you can think of.
A few good ideas include warning us of imaginary obstacles (“Watch out for
that tree-just kidding!”), concealing our possessions, and encouraging
us to
“find” you while you run gleefully around us in circles. These were a
staple
of primary school, and I treasure many pleasant memories from that era. Do
me a favor, and bring back the nostalgia!

16. Refer to us as “that blind person” even after you know our names.
Blindness is so integral to our identities that our names are really just
decorative, so there’s no need to remember or use them. If we fail to
answer
to “Hey, blind girl/guy!” just keep trying. We’ll learn to love it.

17. Assume that our default status is “Help!” If we reassure you that we’re
okay, thanks, don’t fall for it. Insisting upon rescuing us every time we
cross paths places us into a position of dependence, which is exactly where
we belong.
Article Thanks to our guest writer:
Dan Hicks

Autism Is My Superpower By a Guest writer. Michael R. Whary

Autism Is My Superpower
It does not matter what sixty-six percent of people do in any particular situation.
All that matters is what you do.
John Elder Robison, Look Me in the Eye
My parents were concerned because my speech was not as advanced as other children
at age two and a half and I did strange things like lining up all my toys in rows
throughout the house, spinning around in circles, and throwing tantrums. In addition,
my motors skills such as running and hand strength were delayed. I also had a lot
of trouble with balance.
My neurologist recognized the signs immediately and informed my parents that I was
autistic. My parents asked what my long-term outlook might be and they were told
that I would most likely never be independent. They were told that because of my
lack of motor skills I probably would never be able to ride a bike, motorcycle, or
drive an automobile. This news made my parents very sad as they had lost my older
brother in childbirth two years earlier.
My parents immediately enrolled me in speech and occupational therapy classes. I
don’t remember much about it, but they said I went to classes five days a week for
four years. Early on my parents believed that if they could get me enough training
that somehow I would
outgrow or no longer be autistic. As I went to classes later I noticed that almost
all of the parents believed the same thing. It wasn’t just about helping their children
fit into society. It was also about trying to hide the autism from the world. A lot
of the kids sometimes felt like Rudolph in the movie
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
 when his dad tried to hide his red nose.
While my autism caused me to develop slower than other children in some areas it
also gave me some abilities that others didn’t have. I learned my alphabet at age
one and I could read at a fourth grade level by eighteen months. In preschool the
teacher always read a story before naptime to the class, but was so amazed at how
well I could read that I took over and was the official storyteller for my preschool.
It was easy for me to read the words on the page fluently, but I had difficulty having
a simple conversation.
My dad had been a star athlete in high school and college, but because of my delayed
motor skills I was not able to play organized sports early on. I really wanted to
follow in his footsteps because he enjoyed football so much, but it just wasn’t possible.
Instead I joined the Cub Scouts. It was so much fun, and at each meeting I learned
a new life skill, from cooking to tying knots to hiking. It was also the first time
that I spent a lot of time with neurotypical children. This was important because
I would copy how the other scouts acted and that’s how I learned to interact and
take part in organized events. All of the physical activity improved my motor skills
too.
I earned the Arrow of Light Award and the Cub Scout Super Achiever Award because
I had earned every pin that the Cub Scouts offered.
Since I had such a wonderful time in Cub Scouts I bridged over to Boy Scouts. It
was not an easy transition as Boy Scouts are “boy run.” This means that I was no
longer taking classes from patient adults, but being given orders from older scouts
who were in high school. It was difficult because I could not process what they wanted
me to do as quickly as regular developing children. I was sometimes overlooked for
leadership positions and not given a chance. I did come home very upset sometimes,
but I always remember my father saying, “If
it’s easy everyone would do it. It’s the hard that makes it great.” He always knew
what to say to motivate me. I doubled my efforts and slowly I was able to do the
jobs that were needed and in turn I was given positions of responsibility.
I believe that scouting is very good for autistic children because they learn hands-on
life skills through merit badges. An Eagle Scout must have twelve Eagle required
badges and twenty-one total merit badges to even be considered. The Eagle requirements
are very difficult. Everything from First Aid, Citizenship, Accounting, Family Planning,
and Physical Fitness are learned along the Eagle Trail. I currently have all of the
Eagle required badges and a total of forty-five merit badges. I enjoy learning new
things from the experts in the field who teach the merit badges. My favorite was
the Aviation merit badge. We went to an actual flight school and learned all about
navigation, instruments, weather conditions, and the different planes. We then got
to ride in a small plane and I even got to fly it for a little bit. It was amazing!
When I was thinking about an Eagle Scout project there were so many options to consider.
The churches all needed help with their facilities, and all of the fraternal organizations
like the Elk, Moose, and Veterans clubs had things I could have helped with, but
none of the options seemed quite right.
Then a little over a year ago I came down with a terrible fever and my mother took
me to the emergency room. The EMT who was there took my information and when they
were told I was autistic the doctor asked him to stay in case they needed to hold
me down while I got shots. I guess the doctor had experience with other children
on the spectrum. I calmly allowed them to give me the shots and the EMT and doctor
were both shocked when I didn’t put up a fight.
The EMT stayed with me and asked a lot of questions about being autistic. Then he
followed us out into the parking lot and explained why he was asking all the questions.
It seemed that his nephew had just been diagnosed with autism and he and his sister
were very upset. With a tear in his eye he told us that I was such a well-mannered
young man and in control of my surroundings, which gave him hope for his nephew’s
future. He said that I inspired him and he was so
happy that he met me.
As I thought about what he had said it came to me that maybe I could help other parents.
I could make them understand that autism is not something to be ashamed of and that
if their child is on the mid to higher end of the spectrum anything is possible.
I want parents to embrace their children for who they are and not carry the guilt
that they did something wrong. According to the CDC, one in forty-two boys in the
USA is somewhere on the autism spectrum. If I could inspire new parents who are so
devastated by the news then maybe I could make the world a better place.
Currently, I am a high school sophomore and enjoy playing the piano and the trumpet
in our marching band and jazz band. I’m also in ROTC and was honored by being inducted
into the Kitty Hawk Honor Society for members with good grades. I take advanced classes
and I am on track to graduate with honors. I currently have a 3.75 GPA. I threw shot
put and discus for my school’s track team and also ran the 100-meter dash. I will
be attending a university upon graduation. I am hoping to get accepted into the Wharton
Business School at Penn, or another Ivy League school, but if not then possibly Baldwin
Wallace University in Berea, Ohio. After graduation I would like to own my own business,
possibly in computers.
How would I define my autism? I was never considered an “Aspie” because of my diagnosis.
I use the word “autistic” because it is a word most people understand, but in the
end it is just a word. To be honest my answer may sound strange, but I am not defined
by my autism. I am Michael Whary. I cannot be defined by any set “definition.” What
I have learned is that no matter who you are or what disabilities you have to overcome
in this life if you want something badly enough anything is possible! God gave everyone
a special gift, a “superpower” if you will. Autism is mine. It has taught me to overcome
my physical, mental, and social difficulties.
Every year we celebrate my birthday with a cake and candles as most people do. When
I blow out the candles and make a wish it’s always the same, “I wish that all of
the suffering in the world would end and in so doing there would be peace on Earth.”
I thank the powers that be for giving me this life. I thank my parents for their
guidance, patience, love, and understanding. And I wish nothing but good things for
others on the autism spectrum.

A Couple with 8th-grade crush reunited in senior living facility71 years later:

#guest writer,
#Jim Stingl,
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Ralph Wisniewski and Grace Lesinski had a crush
on each other when they were in middle school and reunite after 71 years.
Ralph Wisniewski and Grace Lesinski reminisce about the teenage crush they shared back in grade school. Their lives grew apart after
that and they married different people. The two, now widowed, reunited recently when
Ralph moved into the apartment building where Grace lives. For most of us, our teen crushes live on only as bittersweet
memories . For Grace Lesinski, hers showed up recently on the list of new residents
at the New Berlin, Wisconsin, senior apartment complex where she lives. “I saw the
name and thought, ‘Oh, it can’t be. I mean, how many Ralph Wisniewskis are there?
she said. So she knocked on his door. A man much older than the handsome 14-year-old
she remembered swung it open. He looked at the gray-haired lady standing there. “And
I said are you the Ralph that graduated from St. Mary Magdalen, and he said yes.
I said I’m Grace. He was indeed the Ralph Wisniewski she fell for in their years
together at the south side Milwaukee Catholic school. He also lived across the street
from her near 19th and Arthur in a Polish neighborhood. Ralph was her first kiss.
It says so right there in the memory book that Grace filled out about her life and
gave to her youngest daughter, JoAnn Ley. Grace checked the box describing the kiss
as “awkward” but added, “got better. After grade school graduation, they went to different high schools. Their innocent romance flickered
out. They both married, she for 60 years to John, he for 54 years to Elizabeth. They
had children and grandchildren, and in recent years were widowed. Now, 71 years after
that crazy mutual crush, they have been tossed back together by chance, fate, divine
intervention or however you want to see it. They’re in no hurry to label what they
have now. “It’s difficult to explain. You just like it,” Ralph, 85, said when I sat
down with him and Grace, 84, at Regency Senior Communities where they live two floors
apart. A photo of Grace Lesinski, then Grace Nowakowski, in her graduating class
at St. Mary Magdalen School in 1947. (Photo: Tyger Williams/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
“We get together once in a while and visit back and forth,” Grace said. “Monday night
bingo he’s been coming, and we’ve had dinner a few times here. They were playful
together as they sat side by side on Ralph’s couch and told me their story. JoAnn
was there and she said her mom seems more buoyant these days. And Ralph told Grace
he likes her giggle. It didn’t take much to roll back the years. They finished at
St. Mary Magdalen in 1947. “There were times when you gave me a ride on your bike.
You know the boys had that extra bar and I’d sit on there,” said Grace, whose last
name was Nowakowski back then. “We went cruising down those alleys,” Ralph said.
“I remember going to the ice skating rink, too. “I considered him my first boyfriend. Now you’re hearing all this,”
Grace said, looking sheepishly toward Chris Vedbraaten, Ralph’s youngest daughter
who also joined us for the interview. “I had a crush,” Ralph said, and it didn’t
hurt that Grace also helped him with his school work. Grace still has an autograph
book from 1945 that Ralph signed: “Dear Grace, when you get married and have a hubby,
I hope he is a little chubby. His signature includes his nickname, Wisz, and boasts,
“The best in the world. A photo of Ralph Wisniewski in his graduating class at St.
Mary Magdalen School in Milwaukee in 1947. Grace hoped back then that their romance would continue into high school,
but Ralph didn’t ask her out. He said he became busy with his new school friends
and sports. Grace met John when she was a senior in high school and they married
in 1955. Along came four daughters, Barbara, Doreen, Carolyn and JoAnn. The couple
built their longtime home in New Berlin and moved into the Regency in 2013. John
died in 2016. Ralph, after a few years in the Air Force, met Elizabeth when he asked
her to dance at a neighborhood bar. They married in 1958. Along came five children,
Mark, Kathy, John, Jeanne and Chris. They lived most of their married life in Muskego,
Wisc., and Ralph worked 40 years at Allen-Bradley. Elizabeth, “Liz,” died in 2012.
When Ralph moved to the Regency earlier this year, he had no idea Grace was there.
They had not been in touch over the years. He said she has helped the new place feel
more like home. Sweet surprises can happen at any age. Grace and Ralph, even as they
both still wear the wedding rings from their long marriages, are now enjoying each
other’s company again and reminiscing all these years after their crush cooled. “I
don’t know if it cooled,” Ralph slyly corrected me.
news section, White Plains Journal 6-9-2018

The Road Map to Canaan for the disabled Kenyans after the Global summit

Global Disability Summit’s commitments need to be reflected in governments’ national policies.
The persons with disabilities in Kenya have seen a new dawn.
This is after the Kenyan government endorsed the Charter for Change during the Global Disability Summit, a “first of its kind” event organised by the UK Department
for International Development (DFID), along with the Government of Kenya and the International Disability Alliance. This is now a clarion call to the Kenyan government to ensure
that their strong stance and work on disability in international cooperation is reflected in our own national policies.
The Global Disability Summit, which took place on the 24th July in London, gathered over 700 representatives from Disabled Persons’ Organisations, Civil
Society, Governments, and the Private Sector. It aimed to mobilise new global and national commitments on disability, especially in regard to international
cooperation and development. It was preceded by the Civil Society Forum, which provided an opportunity to highlight current issues relevant to the global
disability movement and work on the realization of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) [1]
I opine that the disabled persons in Kenya have not achieved much from the 2003 ACT, draft national disability policy 2006, national action plan 2015 concluding observations 2015 made at the UNCRPD.
Despite the policies, regulations and constitutional provisions protecting persons with disabilities, marginalization and lack of voice continue to engulf the disabled person in Kenya.

Other policy makers argue that Kenya doesn’t lack good written policies but poor execution. This is also accompanied by due to slow pace of implementation and lack of capacity.
For instance, disabled musicians, sports men and women play to the second fiddle when being supported by the government.
Another example is the inaccessible government offices.
history all over the world has showed that positive change for disabled people comes when a strong and vibrant disabled people’s movement campaigns
effectively for justice. We know from experience that such change does not come from spontaneous innovation by ministers. We need development that does
not leave any disabled people – or anyone else – behind. The global summit commitments were loud and clear that the governments and development partners need to direct their energy of empowerment and strengthening the ability of disabled civil society in Kenya
this is by holding the Kenya government to account against the pledges they have made. After all Government acknowledges disability as a phenomenon that cuts across all spheres of society and which requires support from all actors.
Furthermore, the Kenyan parliamentarians with disabilities do not have any excuse of not pushing the repealing of the 2003 persons with disability act in order to aline it with the UNCRPD, the 2010 constitution, SDG and now the global summit chatter.
It is my humble submission that with the new cabinet secretary and principle secretary the Kenyan disability movement will have a disability bridge initiative in order to realize the set commitments through a tangible action plan.
Moreover, the Cabinet secretary can appoint a 5 persons task force for a period of 4 months to lay the new way of operatializing and prioritizing the disability commitments.
This can be achieved by ensuring budgeting and aligning functions to the relevant ministries and creating enabling environment for the new development partners as well as retaining the traditional partners.
. The task force can be mandated to ensure they deliver by having the public access of information which has been reviewed, assessed and published in accessible formats and on a regular basis.
This will promote transparency and accountability of the commitments made.
In addition, the plan should reflect the will of the disabled persons where they want all government and private institution to embrace disability inclusion.
The cabinet secretary can get a pull of resourceful persons from persons with disabilities.in order to enable the direct consumers who know where the shoe pinches.
“Nothing about us without us”

the CS and the principle sectretary should join the
International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt of the UK who stated:

“It is fantastic to see such ambitious commitments made from countries and organisations from around the world at today’s Global Disability Summit.

“But, if we are going to help people with disabilities to fulfil their true potential, today cannot just be about words – it has to be about action.

“That’s why we need to hold ourselves and our partners to account and make sure these commitments produce genuinely transformative results for people with disabilities world

Paul Mugambi is a senior public policy consultant and a social discourse commentator.

25 Ways To Kill The Toxic Ego That Will Ruin Your Life Guest writer: aa1d figure

The artist Marina Abramović
has said that
the moment we begin to believe in our own greatness, that we kill our ability to be truly creative. What she is talking about is ego — the way that self-absorption
ruins the very thing it celebrates.

So how do we keep this toxic ego and selfishness at bay? How do we prevent ego from “sucking us down like the law of gravity?” The primary answer is simple:
awareness. But after that, it’s a matter of hard work.

In the course of researching
Ego is the Enemy
I was exposed to many strategies for combatting our arrogant and selfish impulses. Here are 25 proven exercises from successful men and women throughout
history that will help you stay sober, clear-headed, creative and humble. They work if you work them.

1. Adopt the beginner’s mindset. “It is impossible to learn that which one thinks one already knows,”
Epictetus
says. When we let ego tell us that we have arrived and figured it all out, it prevents us from learning.
Pick up a book
on a subject you know next to nothing about. Walk through a library or a bookstore — remind yourself how much you don’t know.

2. Focus on the effort — not the outcome. With any creative endeavour at some point what we made
leaves our hands.
We can’t let what happens after that point have any sway over us. We need to remember famous coach John Wooden’s advice: “Success is peace of mind, which
is a direct result of self satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.” Doing your
best is what matters. Focus on that. External rewards are just extra.

3. Choose purpose over passion. Passion runs hot
and burns out,
while people with purpose — think of it as passion combined with reason — are more dedicated and have control over their direction. Christopher McCandless
was passionate when he went “into the wild” but it didn’t work well, right? The inventor of the Segway was passionate. Better to have clear-headed purpose.

4. Shun the comfort of talking and face the work. “Void,” Marlon Brando once said, “is terrifying to most people.” We talk endlessly on social media getting
validation and attention with fake internet points avoiding the uncertainty of doing the
difficult and frightening work
required of any creative endeavour. As creatives we need to shut up and get to work. To face the void — despite the pain of doing so.

5. Kill your pride before you lose your head. “Whom the gods wish to destroy,” Cyril Connolly wrote, “they first call promising.” You cannot let early
pride lead you astray. You must remind yourself every day how much work is left to be done, not how much you have done. You must remember that humility
is the antidote to pride.

6. Stop telling yourself a story — there is no grand narrative. When you achieve any sort of success you might think that success in the future is just
the natural and expected next part of the story. This is a straightforward path to failure — by getting too cocky and overconfident. Jeff Bezos, the founder
of Amazon, reminds himself that there was “no aha moment” for his billion-dollar behemoth, no matter what he might read in his own press clippings. Focus
on the present moment, not the story.

7. Learn to manage (yourself and others). John DeLorean was a brilliant engineer but a poor manager (of people and himself). One executive described his
management style as “chasing colored balloons” — he was constantly distracted and abandoning one project for another. It’s just not enough to be smart
or right or a genius. It’s gratifying to be the micromanaging egotistical boss at the center of everything — but that’s not how organizations grow and
succeed. That’s not how you can grow as a person either.

8. Know what matters to you and ruthlessly say no to everything else. Pursue what the philosopher
Seneca
refers to as euthymia — the tranquility of
knowing what you are after
and not being distracted by others. We accomplish this by having an honest conversation with ourselves and understanding our priorities. And rejecting
all the rest. Learning how to say no. First, by saying no to ego which wants it all.

9. Forget credit and recognition. Before Bill Belichick became the four-time Super Bowl–winning head coach of the New England Patriots, he made his way
up the ranks of the NFL by doing grunt work and making his superiors look good without getting any credit. When we are starting out in our pursuits we
need to make an effort to trade short-term gratification for a long-term payoff. Submit under people who are already successful and learn and absorb everything
you can. Forget credit.

10. Connect with nature and the universe at large. Going into nature is a powerful feeling and we need to tap into it as often as possible. Nothing draws
us away from it more than material success. Go out there and reconnect with the world. Realize how small you are in relation to everything else. It’s what
the French philosopher Pierre Hadot has referred to as the “oceanic feeling.” There is no ego standing beneath the giant redwoods or on the edge of a cliff
or next to the crashing waves of the ocean.

11. Choose alive time over dead time. According to author Robert Greene, there are
two types of time
in our lives: dead time, when people are passive and waiting, and alive time, when people are learning and acting and utilizing every second. During failure,
ego picks dead time. It fights back: I don’t want this. I want ______. I want it my way. It indulges in being angry, aggrieved, heartbroken. Don’t let
it — choose alive time instead.

12. Get out of your own head. Writer Anne Lamott knows the dangers of the soundtrack we can play in our heads: “The endless stream of self-aggrandizement,
the recitation of one’s specialness, of how much more open and gifted and brilliant and knowing and misunderstood and humble one is.” That’s what you could
be hearing right now. Cut through that haze with courage and live with the tangible and real, no matter how uncomfortable.

13. Let go of control. The poisonous need to control everything and micromanage is usually revealed with success. Ego starts saying: it all must be done
my way — even little things, even inconsequential things. The solution is straightforward. A smart man or woman must regularly remind themselves of the
limits of their power and reach. It’s simple, but not easy.

14. Place the mission and purpose above you. During World War II, General George Marshall, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for the Marshall Plan, was practically
offered the command of the troops on D-Day. Yet he told President Roosevelt: “The decision is yours, Mr. President; my wishes have nothing to do with the
matter.” It came to be that Eisenhower led the invasion and performed with excellence. Marshall put the mission and purpose above himself — an act of selflessness
we need to remind ourselves of.

15. When you find yourself in a hole — stop digging. “Act with fortitude and honor,” Alexander Hamilton wrote to a distraught friend in serious trouble
of the man’s own making. “If you cannot reasonably hope for a favorable extrication, do not plunge deeper. Have the courage to make a full stop.” Our ego
screams and rattles when it is wounded. We will then do anything to get out of trouble. Stop. Don’t make things worse. Don’t dig yourself further. Make
a plan.

16. Don’t be deceived by recognition, money and success — stay sober. Success, money and power can intoxicate. What is required in those moments is sobriety
and a refusal to indulge. One look at Angela Merkel, one of the most powerful women on the planet is revealing. She is plain and modest — one writer said
that unpretentiousness is Merkel’s main weapon — unlike most world leaders intoxicated with position. Leave self-absorption and obsessing over one’s image
for the egotists.

17. Leave your entitlement at the door. Right before he destroyed his own billion-dollar company, Ty Warner, creator of Beanie Babies, overrode the objections
of one of his employees and bragged, “I could put the Ty heart on manure and they’d buy it!” You can see how this manifestation of ego can lead you to
success — and how it can lead to downright failure.

18. Choose love. Martin Luther King understood that hate is like an “eroding acid that eats away the best and the objective center of your life.” Hatred
is when ego turns a minor insult into a massive sore and it lashes out. But pause and ask: has hatred and lashing out ever helped anyone with anything?
Don’t let it eat at you — choose love. Yes, love. See how much better you feel.

19. Pursue mastery in your chosen craft. When you are
pursuing a craft
you realize that the better you get, the humbler you are. Because you understand there’s always something you can learn and you are inherently humbled
by this fascinating craft or career you’re after. It is hard to get a big head or become egotistical when you’ve decided on that path.

20. Keep an inner scorecard. Just because you won doesn’t mean you deservedto. We need to forget other people’s validation and external markers of success.
Warren Buffett has advised keeping an inner scorecard versus the external one. Your potential, the absolute best you’re capable of — that’s the metric
to measure yourself against.

21. Paranoia creates things to be paranoid about. “He who indulges empty fears earns himself real fears,” wrote
Seneca,
who as a political adviser witnessed destructive paranoia at the highest levels. If you let ego think that everyone is out to get you you will seem weak…and
then people will really try to take advantage of you. Be strong, confident and forgiving.

22. Always stay a student. Put yourself in rooms where you’re the least knowledgeable person. Observe and learn. That uncomfortable feeling, that defensiveness
that you feel when your most deeply held assumptions are challenged? Do it deliberately. Let it humble you. Remember how the physicist John Wheeler put
it, “As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance.”

23. No one can degrade you — they degrade themselves. Ego is sensitive about slights, insults and not getting their due. This is a waste of time. After
Frederick Douglass was asked to ride in a baggage car because of his race, someone rushed to apologize for this mistreatment. Frederick’s reply? “They
cannot degrade Frederick Douglass. The soul that is within me no man can degrade. I am not the one that is being degraded on account of this treatment,
but those who are inflicting it upon me.”

24. Stop playing the image game — focus on a higher purpose. One of the best strategists of the last century, John Boyd, would ask the promising young
acolytes under him: “To be or to do? Which way will you go?” That is, will you choose to fall in love with the image of how success looks like or will
you focus on a higher purpose? Will you pick obsessing over your title, number of fans, size of paycheck or on real, tangible accomplishment? You know
which way ego wants to go.

25. Focus on the effort — not the results. This is so important it is appearing twice. If you can accept that you control only the effort that goes in
and
not the results which come out,
you will be mastering your ego. All work leaves our hands at some point. Ego wants to control everything — but it cannot control other people or their
reactions. Focus on your end of the equation, leave them to theirs. Remember Goethe’s line: “What matters to an active man is to do the right thing; whether
the right thing comes to pass should not bother him.”

Kenyan Counties can be drivers of the disability inclusion agenda

As Kenya and United Kingdom gears towards the global summit in London on 24th July 2018.
The Kenya disability sector should ask itself are there benefits of devolution towards changing lives of persons with disabilities?
Since the rise of devolution there has been a big deliberation among different policy makers and stakeholders in the disability industry.
This is certainly, the big elephant, there has been push and pull of trying to agree where should the disability services be.
Some policy makers claim the counties should take responsibilities while other policy makers claim it should remain at the national level.
It seems there has not been agreed way forward.
Despite the big debate, we need to ask critically how can we first track the disability mainstreaming and inclusion agenda?
Should the national government change its role on disability by providing standards through monitoring and evaluation?
The diffent policy makers can address this noble issue in order to ensure persons with disabilities are served better and nearer to their locality as envisaged in the constitution.
In many of other jurisdiction where Kenya has emulated its constitution and policies disability services have been devolved and all agencies have disability mainstreaming agenda on their tray.
Countries like United Kingdom, united states of America and Australia are living examples of how persons with disabilities have greatly benefited from the decentralized service delivery execution model.
Surprisingly, Counties are well funded and are able to muscle resources towards different areas of which persons with disabilities participate.
For example, road construction, health sector etc through this issue of accessibility communication can be addressed.
That being the case, we all understand that the leaders in government are about making policy which must be taken care of by the implementers and which
we citizens have to go along with unless they hurt our existence. It is a relief and edifying,
therefore, to hear leaders talking about disability inclusion It would, of course, help a lot if in all these things there is more public participation in raising the voice of disabled persons.
I do here by opine that counties can be the game changer in disability inclusion agenda.
For instance, the counties of Makueni, Uasingishu and Nandi have taken drastic measures to improve employment and procurement opportunities for persons with disabilities.
I have no evidence about what is happening in 44 counties but, in the case of 3 counties, we certainly have a demonstration of the fact that if led with
the interest of Kenyans at heart, counties can in fact be effective drivers of the disability inclusion agenda.
Paul Mugambi is a senior public policy consultant and a social discourse commentator.

Black Friday for the Disabled in Kenya Friday 13th July: 2018

As all the Kenyan media houses captured in their beautiful headlines on the reshuffle by president Uhur.
Some lobby group amongst the largest minority who are persons with disabilities were crying foul Over the nonexistence of the board to the government agency in charge of disability matters for the last 14 months.
Despite the inaction of the government the lobby group lacked the zeal and energy to address the real strategic issues facing persons with disabilities.
Although they have a genuine concern It is false to claim services to persons with disabilities have been grounded because of lack of board.
Its prudent to understand that persons with disabilities are supposed to be served in all mainstream service providers.
In actual sense the lobby never provided the statistics or evidence to established who have missed particular services because of nonexistence of the board.
On the other hand, President Uhuru Kenyatta has made changes in the Cabinet, and Diplomatic Service as part
of his ongoing efforts to re-engineer the Government in line with his Big 4 development blueprint. Evidently, this mean reshuffle has showed that still no person with disability was elevated or promoted to any post
this is one of the major advocacy agenda which the lobby could have pronounced itself since this captures the issues on employment.
According to Section 54(2) of the Kenya constitution 2010 requires the state to ensure that at least 5
% of the members of the public in elective and appointive
bodies are persons with disabilities.
The persons with disabilities in Kenya need to reengineer the advocacy process in order to meet the long-term objectives of ensuring the mainstream services are accessible to all.
This can be actualizing by also making the agency in charge of disability to focus on monitoring and facilitating persons with disabilities organization to offer services and direct thee energy towards empowerment of persons with disabilities in ensuring provision of social protection by mainstream service providers.
The in addition, Kenyan parliamentarians with disabilities need to respond to the in
the disability community.
To what extent are they influencing effectively the voice of persons with disabilities at the legislature and the executive?

The big query is: what shall it take for the Kenyan government to effectively address the barriers of inclusion among persons with disabilities?
Paul Mugambi is a senior policy consultant and commentator on social public discoes.

Great news: Apple, Microsoft, Google collaborate on new universal standard for Braille displays  

A decision by a group of tech giants could be a major step forward in accessibility by increasing the compatibility of braille displays with computers
and other devices. 

The goal is to make using Braille displays a simple plug-and-play process

The USB Implementers Forum — a group that includes major tech companies like Apple, Microsoft, and Google — has announced a new USB HID (Human Interface
Device) standard for Braille displays. That may not sound like much, but it’s a big move forward to make computers more accessible to people who are blind
or have impaired vision by making it much easier to use Braille displays across different operating systems and devices without having to worry about unique
software or drivers for each device.

Ultimately, it means that soon, users will be able to simply use Braille readers as plug-and-play devices across a wide hardware ecosystem, much in the
same way that users are able to simply plug in a USB mouse or keyboard. The standard seeks to make this process function similarly across operation systems,
whether it’s a PC, Mac, or Android device.

With the finalized standard, device manufacturers and operating system providers will have to make new hardware and software updates to support it, which
should start happening as early as 2019.
Paul Mugambi is a senior policy consultant and commentator on social public discoes.

What the disAbled Kenyan parliamentarians need to do:

The Kenyan Parliament has been a vocal promoter of disability inclusion and the leave no one behind agenda. There is a Kenya Disability
Parliamentary Association
(KEDIPA. Which is composed of all disabled parliamentarians and they have been focusing their energies on the disability agendas.
This caucus was formed I after the first nominated and elected members of parliament in 2013.
Although not much can be written home about the first group.
Its prudent to say they tried their level best in the murky unforgiving environment of the larger parliamentarians.
This is not to say that they should not enhance the advocacy but it’s a journey.
The great lessons learnt should guide the new parliamentarians with disabilities of 2017 to 2022 to focus with a few specific legislation which affect the most persons with disabilities.
Furthermore, disability became a priority issue. During the last year twin election, all parties
gave some mention to disabled people in their manifestos
.
Both Jubilee and NASA promised lots of goodies. To the largest minority group in Kenya which is at 15 %.
Moreover, as usual they remained campaigned promises.
Thus, they evaporated in the new main 4 big agendas of the president and also the building bridges initiative.
However, the door of opportunity is here.
This is where now the Kenya Disability
Parliamentary Association
(KEDIPA
(KEDIPA need to rise to the occasion and make the voice of the disabled be hard.
Through this the policy makers and stakeholders will be able to incorporate disability concerns and make no one to be left behind.
This can be done through public participation, trainings and media awareness.
The caucus can incorporate the big 4 agendas in their execution agenda in the 12th
parliament. Persons with disabilities in Kenya have shuttered dreams which can only be revived through having proper policies and legislations which can address and transform the barriers that persons with disabilities face.
In addition, utilization of humanitarian model in development and researching will enable this to happen.
Absolutely, KEDIPA can borrow the best practises from the women parliamentarians who have been able to legislate and lobby for support in both executive and legislative arms of government.
Nevertheless, huge challenges still hound the disabled and continuing barriers surrounding disabled people’s equitable participation in social and economic life, means promises
are not resulting in action. The foundation of the global disability movement is “Nothing about us, without us”, as such the participation of persons with
disabilities in decision making processes is crucial.
Meeting the 5 % threshold in public appointments need to be enhanced at all national and county levels.
At list the nomination of Washington Sadi to the administrative and justice commission is a step in the right direction
The Kenyan disabled parliamentarians must DO BETTER since they carry 6 million dreams of hope, equity and inclusion for the disabled
They should realize that as Disabled MPs they are powerful and necessary champions and role models. But we also need urgent transformative change. We need to create space for all marginalized
people in decision-making processes; we need to ensure full representation, and we need to ensure the parliamentary procedure is accessible so that disabled
parliamentarians can play their role in policy creation and implementation.
Its shameful at this era the Kenyan parliament is not accessible.
Paul Mugambi is a senior policy consultant and commentator on social public discoes.

The silent killer among the Blind Kenyans:

#silent killer among the Blind in Kenya.

Domestic violence has many faces, many victims, and many stories. This is just one of them, but it is the untold story in Kenya and Africa at large. Many dreams of persons who are Blind or visual impairment are shuttered by undergoing domestic violence in silence.
Many people are confused about what domestic violence is, what causes it, and why women stay in the abusive relationship. According to United nations women commission Domestic violence is a pattern
of intimidation, coercion, and violence. It includes everything the abuser has done in the past and the threat of what he’ll do in the future. The entire
goal of domestic violence is to obtain and maintain power and control over the victim. The pattern of abuse often increases in frequency and severity over
time. Battering can be verbal, physical, emotional, sexual, or economic. An abused person can be of any age, race, class, culture, religion, occupation,
and sexual orientation.
For example, some low vision individuals have faced the breaking down of their self-esteem; they would be asked by their partners to read something they know they couldn’t see or ask totally blind person to find an item in the house and later establish a fault with the house and then comment
about our abilities or rather lack of them. This normally increases the isolation from others, especially in a new set up of things or location where the Blind and low vision person did not recognize.
Many blind and low vision persons especially the women face this silently. Many a times the violence escalates, many realize when its late that their vision was being used against them. Many of the abusers would approach by trying for their blind spot. As it increased, many have quickly
learned to hide this from the abusers. But the fear was always there.
For instance, one of the abusers Abusers learned that turning the lights on or off made it difficult for low vision partner to see and used that to gain an advantage and increase the fear. The abuser would find the victim
before their eyes adjusted to the change.
In addition, as many victims face vision loss made daily life more complicated, the fear and abuse made it overwhelming.
Research indicates that women with disabilities are more likely to suffer domestic violence and sexual assault than women without disabilities. And women
with disabilities report that abuse lasts longer and is more intense than women without disabilities.

Like other women, women with disabilities usually are abused by someone they know, such as a partner or family member. In addition, women with disabilities
face the risk of abuse by healthcare providers or caregivers. Caregivers can withhold medicine and assistive devices, such as wheelchairs or braces. They
can also refuse to help with daily needs like bathing, dressing, or eating.
There are inadequate support groups where abuse of blind and low vision persons has been recognized.
Many Kenyans fear talking about it.
When victims who are low vision and Blind talk about it no own would believe them.

Many of the perpetrators of domestic violence have taught their victims to trust no one, and so many low vision and blind persons are afraid to allow the extent of the vision loss be known by anyone. They struggle to avoid situations they find themselves
dangerous, and that could include something as simple as someone standing in the wrong spot. Mostly, Family and relatives mostly would look the other way; friends these days have become busy. Furthermore, the low vision and blind victims see themselves us Being physically less capable of defending themselves
Difficulty in reporting maltreatment due to the lack of accessible forms of communication
Inaccessibility of information and counselling services due to barriers in the physical environment and due to the lack of accessible forms of communication
(this is particularly attributes to increase of violence.
This also makes the victims of domestic violence to feel that they are somehow at fault, and in most cases, they usually blame the vision loss. Of which and they tend to believe it.
In Kenya and Africa at large, there are inadequate trainers to assist in training related to vision loss.
The existing mainstream support mechanism are not ready to serve blind or visually impaired person due to there services not being accessible.
I opine that Kenya and Africa we should start training The Importance of Learning Self-Protection and Vision Rehabilitation Skills.
This would go a long way to ensure victims of domestic violence learn to protect themselves. They should learn about their vision and how to use it more efficiently. This restored their confidence. It helped them to see
that they are still capable individuals, someone who had value. That is something often lost to abuse.
Paul Mugambi is a senior policy consultant and commentator on social public discoes.

Why people fear to be Blind like me:

Let’s speak to being blind first.
We’re seen as the lowest functioning facet of society.
The worst possible thing an able-bodied person can think of is
losing all their vision.
I’ve heard people say they would rather be deaf than blind.
I’ve heard people say they would rather have lost a limb than lose
their eyesight.
Being blind is so scary people will do anything possible to keep their remaining vision, even if it means spending all their savings and
then some.
People would rather risk dying on operating tables than lose all their vision. I know this isn’t everybody but this is the majority.
from different interviews and interactions I have hard and listened to all.

We’re either the helpless things on planet earth or our disability is morphed into some super power to make it bearable to consume in media. Either we’re
stupid or inspiration porn. Either, we’re aliens or superheroes. We’re never human.
It’s a kind of lifestyle nobody knows about. Even other minorities have much more privileges. One example I can think of, out of many, is that Ogiek with out a disability Makonde, and
Elmolo people of Kenya have more work opportunities than we do and we will for a very long time. A ogiek, Elmolo, and Makonde who’s already discriminated against, will get a
job over us. Why is this important to point out? Because it’s a way to highlight why beating us down after we have worked for over years to make a fraction of perceptions
about us broaden is beyond shallow. We work twice as hard to live and to just be human in the eyes of other humans. We have A hard skill set by default.
Problem solving, and, still, employers will see that as a weakness.
When will employer’s in Kenya see the abilities of my people not just the disabilities.
I believe I have 1 % disability and 99 % abilities. Paul Mugambi is a senior policy consultant and commentator on social public discoes.
info@mugambipaul.com

Quest for access to technology for disabled Kenyans.

According to the “World report on disability-2011” by the World Bank and the World Health Organisation, there are 1 billion persons with disabilities worldwide,
who constitutes 15% of the total global population. Of them, 80% live in developing countries and almost the same percentage live in extreme poverty conditions.
Persons with disability (PWDs) exhibit the lowest health, education and economic outcomes. Our own home Kenya isn’t far behind with over 1.5 million persons
with disability according to Kenya population census 2009.
Of which is a disputed figure by the Kenyan disability movement who claim it should be 6 million.
.
With poor implementation of Kenyan Government policy and little access to affordable assistive technology solutions,
disability has grown to be a largely unaddressed social challenge in Kenya.

One of the main facets of an inclusive society is equality of opportunity for all citizens – access to the same public resources and similar facilities.
However, in the case of persons with disabilities in Kenya, achieving this equality is a road paved with challenges.
Accessibility in general refers to the ability
of people with disabilities (PWD) to access products, services, environments etc. in their day to day life. With the global shift to “digital”, this accessibility
gap has further widened. Technology can be a powerful enabler for them to overcome their physical limitations. Over the last few years, technology solutions
like screen reading software, wheelchairs, walking aids etc. have helped assist PWDs in leading an independent life and aided their livelihood opportunities.
While technology advancements continue to be beneficial most such innovations originate in the western world and have not developed with affordability as a critical factor.

In recent years there has been a lot of momentum in this sector with organizations working towards both technological solutions and grass-root implementation.
It is heartening to see them bring such energy and passion instead of the neglect it has faced for decades. In Kenya too, there is growing awareness towards
the rights of persons with disability. Recognizing the fact that inclusion of persons with disability can be the cornerstone of a truly inclusive Kenya,
And then, well, there are those other people. People who don’t know, don’t care, or know but don’t want to care, or don’t know and don’t want to know,
at all.

Maybe it’s because I am not a developer but I just don’t get it. I don’t understand why some refuse to take accessibility seriously or even want to tackle
it. I’m just a Policy strategist and inclusive practisioner so maybe I just don’t get how hard it is to sit in a chair and write code additions or substitutions or listen to feedback
or anything.

The thing is, though. That goes both ways. I don’t understand what they go through but they also don’t have a clue what access means to me, either.

Sighted developers don’t have to think about if an application is accessible to them. They don’t have to wonder if they can use all parts of the website
or software. They can interact with everything on the screen and can use anything and everything. To them, the possibilities are limitless.

The thing is though; people should take accessibility and access design more seriously. Blind people will try your application and website. In most cases
if they can’t use it they will instantly remove it and warn other screen reader users of the application and then many more will avoid it. There are those
cases though where friends of ours use these apps or companies use them and we’re in this company. What then?

Most try and write to the developers politely. Despite what everybody thinks blind people do have lives and even technology related jobs now. The internet
has changed the employment landscape for us.

Most of the time, however, we get a general, oh sure. We are totally working on it, but can you please go the hell away and never bother us with this “feature”
again?
It happens all the time. it continues to happen. It still confuses me… it confuses me that people think access is a feature, like picking a shoe color
or a type of laptop. I don’t get it. Then again, I am not sighted.
No wonder many Kenyan government and private sector websites are not accessible and when they request for job application they do not even recognize braille as a means of communication.
This sighted world should understand most are heading to be Blind!

my Dream is that the Kenyan government will one day launch the Accessible Kenya Campaign through the ministry of information and technology.
Ask us and we shall show you!
Paul Mugambi is a senior policy consultant and commentator on social public discoes.
info@mugambipaul.com

My Meeting With Senator Jordon Steele-John Of West Australia

I met Senator Jordon Steele-John who is a Senator of West Australia
and is a member of the Australian Greens parliamentary team.

He is A passionate youth and disability advocate, he has always
wanted to make a positive difference.His first political memory was
of the Tampa Crisis in 2001.
Six at the time, I might have been too young to understand the
complexities of that sorry saga, but I did understand that desperate
people were asking
for our help and we were saying no. It was my first encounter with the
power of politics and it had a profound impact on me. Over the next
ten years I
considered all the dream jobs usual to kids that age (palaeontology
was the frontrunner for quite a while!) but I could never shake that
desire to make
a difference and, after living through the Howard era, the Iraq War
and the Pacific Solution, the impact political decisions have on
people’s lives was
clearer to me than ever. So I decided to get informed and get involved.

Coming from a family of strong Labor supporters he had always
believed that, as a young person, a person who journeys with a
disability and a person who
cares deeply about social and environmental justice, Labor was the
party for me. So it was with sadness and disappointment that I watched
as, from genuine
action on climate change to ensuring that big miners pay their fair
share of tax, they failed to stand up for what matters. The final
straw came with the
Gillard Government announcement of Malaysian Solution. I knew then
that both parties had signed up to the type of cynical and
dehumanising politics which
always ultimately leads to cruelty, and I knew that I could not be
part of it. Searching for a voice which spoke to me with authenticity
and about the
issues I cared about with courage, I found The Greens and never looked back.

Over the course of my life I’ve learned that to be a young person with
a disability in contemporary Australia is to occupy the intersection
of some of
our society’s most ingrained myths and most damaging preconceived
ideas. Far too often it seems as though these are the prisms through
which our lives
are viewed and our rights are framed. It can feel almost impossible to
make your voice heard when the debate so easily casts aside everything
from affordable
education, housing and transport to the very state of the environment
we will inherit. At every opportunity I’ve worked hard to bust these
myths, challenge
these preconceived ideas and be a strong voice for the issues that
matter, working for the past several years as a youth and disability
advocate at the
local, state, federal and NGO level with a focus on rights and
awareness training.
From genuine action on climate change to affordable housing, quality
education, a properly funded NDIS and an effective transition to the
new economy,
The Greens embody the desire to make a positive difference that I’ve
felt for as long as I can remember. We have the courage to
authentically engage with
young people and our issues, laying out a policy vision which truly
meets the challenges and opportunities that face our generation.

Jordon Steele-John inspired me and he is an Icon of our time.
He also listened to my experience coming from a developing nation
where access to services is a dream to many persons with
disabilities.
We also shared how Australia can be of help to uplift advocacy efforts
on the low income countries by improving policy directions.

My third eye on Kenya’s disability movement

It has been argued from different quarters that the attitude of entitlement without responsibility has contributed to apathy among persons with Disabilities.
Kenyan persons with Disabilities should be encouraged to become proactive in ensuring good governance practices and use their creativity to ensure that they find their rightful
space in policy and decision making.
Failure to do this will mean that they have accepted to continually be marginalised.
Accountability is critical in ensuring that political leaders and all duty bearers honour their commitments and shows how different programme actions and
investment of public funds translate into tangible results and long-term outcomes that directly benefit persons with Disabilities . Accountability mechanisms should allow for grievances to be voiced and remedies provided and, as a responsive function, should help to improve how policy
or service delivery can be adjusted to make it more effective.
Efforts should be made to build capacity for persons with Disabilities to claim their rights and engage as active citizens.

An effective accountability mechanism is one that has the ability to transparently show the linkages between national and county levels with strong feedback
information loops.

This accurate and timely information has the potential to help in supporting national and county recommendations, actions and approaches aimed at reaching
the goals that support persons with Disabilities meet their aspirations and live a prosperous life.

Working with persons with Disabilities , especially in complex processes like planning, budgeting and monitoring, is crucial if development policies are to be truly
relevant to those they are meant to serve.
Sometimes participation and collaboration becomes difficult when review processes are complex and hard to interpret.

Persons with Disabilities should demand leaders to provide information in alternative format that is interactive and language that they can understand. All this is enshrined in Kenyan constitution and the UNCRPD.

An environment in which feedback is shared should also be considered.

If possible it should be easy to access without necessarily incurring costs.

Political leaders can only be said to be accountable if they listen and respond to the needs of persons with Disabilities people in a clear manner, explain action taken to
rectify whatever recommendations made and a guarantee that it will not be repeated.

This can be through actions like legislative reforms, innovative planning processes and prioritised funds allocation.

In conclusion, non-discriminative feedback mechanisms and effective follow-up processes is a means of verifying that an effective accountability mechanism
is in place.
The Constitution of Kenya has already defined duties, responsibilities and rights, so what is critical is to create strong linkage and integration both
at national and county levels because decisions are made through a network of actors.
For instance in the recently held general elections the Disability community was duped by the independent electro commissionin many ways.
There were no braille ballots at all. To make matters worse 17 counties left out the nominees with disabilities and for the 30 counties that had still had anomalies. Its still gloomy for women with disabilities as history has shown us they are often left out by women with out disabilities as they champion the women agenda and more sore the 2 third gender rule.
Never the less its important to note at the high level UNCRPD forum in August 2015 Kenya nation proclaimed that they provide free legal service when the rights of persons with disabilities have been ignored plus they provided accessible ballot in 2013.
We are yet to see the steps in which the state law office takes this matter in to consideration.
The litmus test that Kenyan persons with Disabilities should use is whether political leaders have put accountability mechanisms and pathways in place that are inclusive,
accessible, collaborative and responsive clearly showing how they will be structured and work in practice.

NB The views expressed here do not represent any agency or organization they are based on 17 years experience as a disability practitioner and human rights defender.

Appeal for Employment for PWDs at all County Levels

Leaders of devolved units and county assemblies should embrace disability inclusion by becoming role models in labour practices by ensuring that persons with different disabilities get share of the county cake distribution at all key positions in both the county assembly and executive levels.

I do heare by affirm that, as major employers and service providers, county governments have a constitutional mandate of article 54, UNCRPD article 27 moral authority and also significant impact on the lives of persons with disabilities.

This is by using fair employment practices and ensuring non-discriminatory service provision to locals and ensuring access to services. County governance is going to be the major driver of Kenya’s political and economic development, considering that crucial sectors of the economy and social/public services are under their jurisdiction.

I affirm the public service commission observations made in its study report of 2014 that persons with disabilities were left out by the national and county governments. With this not withstanding, all this levels of government never met the minimum constitutional threshold of 5 % opportunities but a mere below 1 % was what has been achieved.

since the introduction of devolution in 2013 greater participation, accountability and transparency in local governance and economic

development has been observed though allot needs to be done especially in provision of opportunities to persons with disabilities.

Devolution has provided a platform and an empowering voice to the historically marginalised population in the country.

The Kenyan Constitution envisions, among others, inclusiveness and protection of the marginalised as part of our national values and principles of governance.

International labor organization indicate in its different publications that political participation, especially by persons with disabilities, may lead to qualitative and substantive changes in governance, change of attitudes contributing to creation
of an environment that is more sensitive and responsive to people’s needs. For instance workers with disabilities are prone to work extra hard and ensure they meet targets.

Recently, the United disabled persons of Kenya the umbrella advocacy body for persons with disabilities, said the country has a long way to go to achieve disability mainstreaming in political representation following
the outcome of the August 8 2017 elections. Only 7 persons with disabilities were elected. two have been elected MP, two MCAs and one woman representative.
Earlier in the year, the National Gender and Equality Commission released a report on the status of equality and inclusion. It stated that persons with
disability have been discriminated against in the electoral processes, with their political representation being minimal or totally absent because of cultural
and structural barriers. The report noted that in 2013, across all legislative bodies, only a single woman with disability was elected to the national assembly. A man with disability
was elected to the Senate, five to the National Assembly, and 10 to the county assemblies.

Nominations remedied the situation: The senate ended up with three out of 67 members (4.5 per cent); National Assembly had nine out of 349 members (2.6
per cent), while county assemblies had 71 out 2,222 members (3.2 per cent).

Its still not yet Uhuru for persons with disabilities since the gains made in 2013 especially at the nomination at the county levels seems to be drained by the powers that be.

In the nomination 2017 it was a madden issue where 17 counties din’t nominate any person with a disability. The remaining 30 counties either also never followed the right procedure or they even some counties had fake persons with disabilities.
We should continuously question why society keeps acting as a barrier to the effective participation of persons with disability in all spheres of life. All of us have to consciously and directly challenge the stereotypes we hold towards persons with disability.

The government and its organs need to put its foot forward towards realizing disability mainstreaming and ensuring the meeting of the sustainable development goals by not living persons with disabilities behind.