Why the Kenyan Disability sector is yet to celebrate Uhuru in 2019: Author Mugambi M. Paul.

Why the Kenyan Disability sector is yet to CELEBRATE Uhuru in 2019:
Author Mugambi M. Paul.

The third eye on Disability policy implementation in Kenya 2019
In recent past, Kenya has been a global leader in developing and advocating for better disability policy framework. This is well articulated on the contributions made to the African disability policy framework, UNCRPD resolutions etc
Yet much is to be achieved in local policy development and implementation.
background:

In a chronology of events demonstrates that it has not been an easy ride for Kenyans with disabilities.
This is because the enactment of the
persons with disability act 2003 took place after the 3rd president was involved in a grisly road accident and took oath of office on a wheelchair.
Furthermore, the Kenyan disability policy has ever remained in draft formats.

All these indicators show It has been a tumultuous journey to have a repeal of the act or even actually develop a strategy of ensuring the realization of the rights of disabled persons in Kenya.

Actually, more than 20 versions of the amendment bills have been put across for the last 14 years.
This is not to say some sort of change has not taken place though it’s a snail pace.
, some piecemeal amendments have been achieved.
For instance, the sign language recognition.
With this notwithstanding, several questions policy makers have to ask themselves.
Who will actualize the implementation of beautiful disability global policies in Kenya?
When will persons with disabilities in Kenya receive and access services without overburdening them? when will the Wanjiku with disabilities stop facing surmountable of challenges in accessing services?

Short term reforms
Some of the actions taken after advocacy include:
Development of
action plan on accessibility 2015
gazettement of adjustment orders, participation on Kenya report on the implementation of UNCRPD 2015etc.
Additionally, in 2018 the ministry of labour has an interagency implementation of the resolution of the global summit held in London 2018

All these actions by the different policy makers are aimed at creating a more inclusive society that enables Kenyans with disability to fulfil their potential as equal citizens.
It is also the main way Kenya implements the United Nations
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Kenya, making sure people with disability can participate in all areas of Kenyan life.
As a public scholar I suggest the interagency organ of the ministry of labour develops a strategy which can address the existing gaps for policy implementation and enactment of 2020 disability act. It will be a great relive for many persons with disabilities.
If the interagency is offered the necessary resources and support, it can have development of a long-term strategic plan which can become a shared commitment by national and county government to work together to improve the lives of Kenyans with disability.
The interagency can guide governments and
other organisations to build the wellbeing of people with disability and their care givers.
Through this process the Ministry of labour and parliamentary committee can ensure the budgeting processes are disability inclusive.

There has been a lot of change to disability policy and service delivery since the enactment of 2003 act.
Some findings from disability researchers, bloggers and experience faced by persons with disabilities have established that the current act has lots of gravy areas.
This is because of systemic failures, lack of execution and resource allocation.
It’s prudent that ministry of labour and the stakeholders bite the bull by its horn by coming up with a long term 10-year disability strategy for Kenya which can be reviewed after five years.

Consequently, we need to make sure a new strategy reflects the changing policy environment and builds on opportunities available today as well as what may emerge over
the next decade, this includes considering the findings from KNCr reports the recent UNCRpd reports,
.
Public participation

constitutionally speaking the parliamentary committee, the ministry of labour should adopt public participation models which will enable persons with disabilities to contribute to the new strategies as a way forward.

This will ensure Consultation people with disability are at the centre of the design of the new strategy and have a leading role in modernising policies and
programs affecting their lives.
The needs to be a clear timeline of the consultation.
The policy makers need to adopt range of options available to ensure that persons with disabilities to have a say.
Importantly, all consultation should be accessible to people will disability.
This can be through the following:

list of 3 items
• an open public survey
Since some part of the population are able to access internet and more so the social media.

• face-to-face community workshops in every county
Media awareness.
• and online forum
The ministry of labour and the stakeholders should ensure that at all times.
The Consultations should be accessible.
This is by ensuring when registering persons with disabilities
provide details of any adjustments or special requirements they might need
key responsibilities:

Obviously, nominated parliamentarians with disabilities need to rise to the occasion and speak with one voice.
Its high time they realized disability is a cross cutting issue and doesn’t know the party lines.
They need to be accountable to persons with disabilities. At all cost.
The parliamentarians with disabilities need to think outside the box and develop bills targeting different aspects on disability not just targeting the reappeal of the 2003 persons with disabilities. For example, enactment of a carers act, braille and access to adaptive technology act, mental health act etc
We have evidently not seen the top law makers with disabilities drumming support for Legislation and policies underpinned by data disaggregated by disability which can make a difference by promoting meaningful
leadership, and consistently challenging harmful attitudes and practices.
.
For instance, the much hyped Huduma number and the upcoming census.
As policy expert I also orate that the disability persons organization are not playing their rightful role efficiently.
This is to say that an alternative view for better advocacy needs to be realized.
This is through continues research, surveys and serious consultations among membership.
Its true that most disability persons organizations have restricted themselves to Urban townships when consulting with out reaching out to the rural remote areas where even basic service to a Kenyan with disability are situated.
e
Conclusion

I believe that its high time the disability persons organization developed a serious advocacy framework with all organizations that care about the human rights and wellbeing of people with disability.
The human rights bodies and agencies need to be speaking up about the broader systemic issues that
need to be confronted, to ensure that people with a disability can have a good life.
going forward, it is not just the responsibility of the disability sector to make sure people with disability were included in the
community.
as Richardson a disability advocate says,
“This is about whole of community, and whole of government working through how best to include and embrace people with disability in all aspects of life,”

The views expressed here are for the author and do not represent any agency or organization. Mugambi Paul is a public policy and diversity and inclusion expert.

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 Visit to Israel

#Israel Day 1

23rd December 2015

THE BUS RIDE

The experience since I arrived in Israel is quite enormous; I cannot get it off my mind.

From the moment I landed at the airport, I couldn’t believe the reception that I got. The access received was excellent. The airport attendants seem to have been taught mobility and orientation well. They surpassed my wildest dreams and expectations. As we drove through the streets, I was awaiting to find the usual traffic that we get back home. It could be habit, or adaptability to the traffic norms faced in Kenya, but Alas!! The experience left me with utter amazement. There wasn’t any traffic even for a single second. It felt like I had jumped time zones to what we are hoping for as far as accessibility is concerned for Vision 2030. I kept asking my host “Is there no traffic???”. In Israel physical access is the order of the day. Blind persons here literally have free transport as long as an official photo is taken and used at the bus stop or the train station as identification.

In my country Kenya we are advocating for better access of road, not just access but road safety. I pay for my sighted guide. It is a life-changing contrast to what I’m experiencing here in Israel. Isn’t it ironic that all I need is a photo to get a free ride all over Israel?? Being blind in Israel isn’t a disability, but an opportunity to continue living your life with as minimal hurdles as possible. The transport system is the best I have ever experienced. Access is a right and not a privilege.

#Disability Soldier.

Summary Points on Transport Features (Israel)

The Reality of Transport in Israel is as follows:-

  1. Accessibility is a right and not a privilege like we experience in Kenya.
  2. The Blind Certificate is similar to what we call disability card in Kenya.
  3. All Blind persons are simply required to produce their identification card at the public bus service and train station, and you go where you want in the country.

https://www.facebook.com/mugambi.paul.988/media_set?set=a.1027275033959454.1073741854.100000309023349&type=3 (bus ride)

https://www.facebook.com/mugambi.paul.988/videos/vb.100000309023349/1027277310625893/?type=3&theater (bus video)

  1. For the first time in history I crossed the busy highway- pedestrian lane without any assistance.
  2. I have not come across any potholes, sewage holes, trenches etc
  3. From the houses to the roads, it’s accessible. Accessibility is the order of the day.
  4. The blind rarely use the White Cane. They interact more with guide dogs. The guide dogs are offered free food by the government.
  5. Access is available even up to the beach while in Kenya this is a problem even in our own offices or houses. What I am experiencing here in Israel is no longer fodder for the imagination. It has become an actual reality that has me mesmerized day in, and day out.
  6. Drivers are trained to handle blind persons.

I will leave here with a lot of unforgettable memories.

VISIT TO THE HEBREW UNIVERSITY- JERUSALEM

This is a summary of my visit to Hebrew University Jerusalem. It is the home of Aleh organization where I experienced the Smart Board demonstration. The points below provide a summary of my experience.1. Deliver services to the Blind and Visually Impaired students in the five universities to pursue their academics.

2. run a pre-university for blind and visually impaired persons.

3. Coordinates the National Service for the Blind and Visually Impaired since they cannot join the regular soldier activities.

5. Supports the blind and visually impaired children with mentorship

5. Supports the children of blind and visually impaired parents.

7. Supports referrals for blind persons to get the blind certificate.

8. Operates Information Centres in the 20 Ophthalmologists’ hospitals where the newly blind persons are referred to and empowered about the services available for the blind in Israel and where to get them.

Blind and visually impaired people read in a variety of ways, just like anyone else.

  • In print: for many partially sighted readers, they use well-designed print information using a minimum 12 point size font on good quality. They don’t use shiny paper. This makes a real difference.
  • On a computer: Available software enlarges screen text. It speaks with a synthetic voice or shows information in Braille on a refreshable Braille display. Blind and partially sighted people can thus read electronic documents if they are designed with accessibility in mind.
  • In Braille, large print or audio is used since not everyone has access to a computer.
  • At the Hebrew University for the first time, I learnt how the visually impaired can be taught by making the environment accessible. With the smart board, you can become a lecturer using a smart pen and board. You can adjust the length, and colour using icons. Once you write on the smart board, it gets connected to the whole network of the computers.  As a student, you can adjust it to meet your needs e.g. colour, fonts, and the overall view. This is best for the visually impaired learners.

·         Persons with eyesight problems can utilize their residual sight optimally. This can also apply to cognitive and students with learning disabilities. This is what schools in Kenya need to adapt as we head towards inclusive education. As we talk about the laptops, we need to speak about the smart boards too.  Students with eyesight issues don’t need to strain on the board but concentrate on what the teacher has written, and it will appear on their computers.

#What a life.

#Technology is solving problems.

#Accessibility at its best.

#Disability Soldier Nasema.

  • The information assists all of us to make decisions, become involved with the society and lead their lives independently. Blind and partially sighted people have the right to be able to do this just like every other citizen.
  • This right to information is internationally recognized  (from Article 21 of the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (External link).
  • Furthermore, it makes good business sense. As people are living longer and sight problems increase with age, a growing number of individuals will be blind or visually impaired who can join my clan.
  • Making information accessible is not expensive or complicated. It simply requires some awareness and a shift in the production process and staff. Getting accessibility not only benefits the blind and partially sighted. e.g. an accessible website will rank higher in search engines; accessible documents are easier to maintain, update, and convert into other formats.

https://www.facebook.com/mugambi.paul.988/videos/vb.100000309023349/1030429983643959/?type=3&theater (Accessibility materials for the blind)

https://www.facebook.com/mugambi.paul.988/media_set?set=a.1030419313645026.1073741855.100000309023349&type=3 (smartboard experience)
THE OrCAM DEVICE

The climax of my Israel visit is the actualization of my dream of getting to experience the Orcam device. The OrCam device is a small camera wearable in the style of Google Glass. It is connected by a thin cable to a portable computer designed to fit in the wearer’s pocket. The system clips on to the wearer’s glasses with a small magnet and uses a bone-conduction speaker to offer clear speech as it reads aloud the words or object pointed to by the user.

The system is designed to both recognize and speak “text in the wild,” a term used to describe newspaper articles as well as bus numbers, and objects as diverse as landmarks, traffic lights, and the faces of friends. As you can see from my experience, totally awesome.

The OrCam system has a simplified user interface design. To recognize an object or text, the wearer points at it and the device then interprets the object or scene. The audio information is transmitted to a bone conduction speaker, similar to the Google Glass headset.

Other Exciting Moments in Israel

 

 In conclusion, mostly in my country blind persons and majority of persons with disabilities do not have access to tourist sites. It is not because we don’t want to, however the environment has not been conducive and there lacks implemention of affirmative action on the sites according to the disability act 2003 which is currently on review.

I had a lifetime experience at the beach

I couldn’t believe accessibility was upto the beach!

Still in shock

 

https://www.facebook.com/mugambi.paul.988/videos/vb.100000309023349/1026007980752826/?type=3&theater (Mugambi in the gym) https://www.facebook.com/mugambi.paul.988/media_set?set=a.1025994720754152.1073741851.100000309023349&type=3 (Ashkelon Beach)
 

Visit to the Marina and Lighthouse,

If you said a Blind person cannot enjoy being a tourist then you are wrong !check it out.

https://www.facebook.com/mugambi.paul.988/media_set?set=a.1030424580311166.1073741856.100000309023349&type=3 (marina lighthouse)

life time mwenjoyo (life time enjoyment)

Whereby access to the route is fantastic, you can plan to visit it. You will love it.

There are beautiful sceneries.

The children are trained in boat sailing, diving, canoeing. It’s part of the school curriculum. Those who are hydrophobic mko na shida. (those of you who are hydrophobic will miss out)

Sweet melodies sounds blew the air waves while the wind blew at its best, at the Ashkalon beach.

I wish I could stay here longer. Going back to Kidero Potholes and Grass brings thoughts of misery. However, I intend to return to my country Kenya with knowledge and exposure   beyond my wildest dreams that will assist our cause to drive positive change in the Disability Movement.

I thank God for creating the opportunity to visit Israel, and to experience a different aspect of life as a blind individual. It is a memory that will be etched in my mind forever.

#DisabilitySoldier

#social justice is what we need as persons with disabilities.

We should say no more charity

I say “No more charity”