Why the Kenya Revenue Authority should partake responsibility of tax exemption for the disabled Kenyans!

During the past 3 decades in Kenya there have been numerous changes in our society with respect to the management and treatment of people with disabilities.
Of course, there ar numerous success stories of actual improved disability mainstreaming.
How did the changes occur?
Many legislative and societal changes have taken place for instance, the disability act of 2003, the UNCRPD 2006 and the 2010 constitution and several disability related regulations. Furthermore, these gains have been necessitated by the lobbing and advocacy by disabled persons and their organizations.
On the other hand, Disability mainstreaming and work to end discrimination against disabled persons have been on both government and non-state actors’ agendas for decades. Why is disability mainstreaming still important?
Some of us feel that “everyone” in government and non-state actors who include development and human rights organisations are well aware of the issues. But the truth is that in organisations without
any explicit focus on disability mainstreaming or disability social justice, the levels of awareness for disability-based discrimination (and the need to end it) tend to be uneven.
Am not surprised by the inaccessible built environment, inaccessible information or the negative attitudes which still exist among the Kenyan society.

Efforts to promote disability equality remain limited and often isolated. Some would prefer to drop “disability” altogether, busy as they feel with all those other
issues that must be “mainstreamed” – good governance, environmental protection, HIV/AIDS prevention, “you name it!”

most government and private entities normally pass on the back when dealing with disability matters!
I opine that ignorance in the Kenyan society is very expensive for disabled persons.
Why should and institution require permission to offer disabled person a service?

As citizens we do not require permission to get a passport, when one has Malaria a disabled person doesn’t require permission.
Why does Kenya revenue authority run away from its responsibilities?
As long as one has uploaded the right documentation there is no need of putting more barrier for the disabled persons.
Why are policy makers silent on this injustice?
Most top government policy makers and stakeholders have done benchmarking of disability services in other countries and they know how good and proper systems work for the people.
Why are they not actualizing simple and impactful solutions to the disabled persons?

. But there are at least five reasons why “disability mainstreaming” must continue:
list of 5 items
1. Organisations that are committed to universal human rights have a responsibility to ensure their work respects and promotes human rights. Disabled rights
are human rights, enshrined in widely accepted international treaties as the Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities UNCRPD 2006.

Any rights-based approach that neglects disabled persons rights is inadequate.

2. International movements and campaigns rally large numbers of disabled people. Disabled persons make the largest minority group in the world

if government institutions who are the planners, implementers and evaluators ignore disabled interests and needs, and refrain from
engaging disabled persons as interlocutors, collaborators and allies.
They will never get it right!
3. Many development and human rights agencies are into education and campaigning – i.e., they attempt to spread ideas around, and to mobilise others to
join them in their cause. The messages they convey, implicitly or explicitly,
influence people’s minds: research has shown that campaigning can reinforce or weaken people’s value systems – broadly speaking, what they consider to
be “good” or “bad”, “right” or “wrong”. (See for example the gender mainstreaming angle.
Hence, it is important to avoid reinforcing values that condone discrimination and other violations against disabled persons
which would be in stark contradiction with the development and human rights goals most of us defend.
The disability organizations need to take lead in voicing what needs to be don on tax related concerns.
Disabled persons should not just be raising concerns on the social media but take the demands to the Kenya revenue authority.
The Kenya revenue authority need to work along side disabled persons in order to ensure smooth and faster process is achieved.
4. disability -based violence is not only one of the most pervasive human rights violations, it also jeopardises development. For example, large numbers of disabled persons have experienced delayed service delivery due to the bureaucratic processes. For instance, delayed in tax exemption renewal, with
dire consequences for their physical well-being, their mental health and their social status. Getting tax exemption is right, but y risk their
lives because of high cost of transport, psychological wellbeing. The Kenya revenue authority should know that most disabled persons are unemployed and for those who do not get access to the service
are likely to feel abused, something is deeply wrong.
Additionally, the Kenya economy is highly affected by wastage of hours on the road.
The tax exemption should have been simplified through decentralization of Kenya revenue authority services at the county.
In other words, if the digitalization process ways actualized the staff at Kenya revenue authority would be able to automatically issue exemption certificates without delay.
The disability mainstreaming focal point person at Kenya revenue has to actualize the dreams of disabled persons by ensuring the system works beyond himself or herself.
Are there government institutions, private sectors who have been given tax relief by the Kenya revenue authority for promoting disability employment and improving access for disabled persons in Kenya?
5. In terms of efficiency, any organisation has a responsibility to serve the disable persons who need their service.
Disabled persons should not be treated as second class citizen in government services.
Siting an example in 2019 May the Kenyan government in collaboration with world bank launched the braille version of the 2030 vision which in essence non blind persons read a decade ago. Is this fair?
The Kenyan policy makers need to stop the mancantile policy process and adapt solution-oriented policy and procedures.

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.

Why the Disabled Kenyan man missed the Land comission job!

Disabled persons all over the world face surmountable challenges in accessing participation in all spheres of life.
Siting example of Kenya it has been a long struggle for advocacy of both individuals and institutions to recognize persons with disabilities.
Disabled persons are 15 per cent of the world’s population, that’s one billion people, and yet, they are significantly more unemployed and under-employed
As expected, the constitution of Kenya is clear on matters representation and appointments in the public and private sector.
As evidenced by 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 sustainable development goals (SDGs), to which Kenya is party, in target 8.5, the world hopes that by 2030 achieve
full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and
equal pay for work of equal value. Despite existing domestic and global legal frameworks, access to the labor market remains a daunting challenge for
persons with disabilities. This may be attributed to accessibility related challenges, inadequate quality education stigma and lack of a comprehensive
strategy to empower and absorb persons with disabilities into the job market.
Additionally, disabled persons have been underemployed, and employers have immensely refused to adapt reasonable accommodation measures which could have enhanced the productivity of individuals with disabilities.
On the other hand, People with disabilities represent a significant untapped source of talent for employers and a market segment for businesses that includes not only the
person with a disability but their family members and friends. Businesses and employers are recognizing that disability inclusion in the workplace represents
a competitive advantage that has been overlooked for too long.
ILO 2005 in one of its studies stated clearly that with proper accesses and provision of reasonable accommodation disabled persons can stay for long in a particular job than the non-disabled counterparts thus high productivity and prophitability of the organizations
This reduces even the expenses of hiring new staff and reduces staff turnover.

Moreover, the situation is further aggravated by lack of an elaborate and sustainable
social security mechanism for this historically marginalized group.
The big question is what it shall take for the Kenyan government to effectively address the problem of accessibility and provision of reasonable accommodation to the labor market for persons
with disabilities?
The Kenyan 2018 public service disability mainstreaming policy articulates clearly the measures which all public entities should follow in promoting the welfare of disabled persons and promoting reasonable accommodation.
If all government entities adapt this approach all disabled persons in Kenya will stop lamentation.
Of course, this is
is the only sure way of granting persons with disabilities a chance to live an independent, dignified and respectable life.
The jury is out there, disabled persons are still hoping to see which government agency is executing the provisions of the constitution, UNCRPD, public service policy etc.

Unfortunately, this has not been the case for the most appointments in the recent past of Kenyan story.
For instance, after the expiry of the first land commission,
It was expected a new team will be brought on board.
Unfortunately, the disabled person who made it to the finals was not nominated to serve on the commission.
This is to show how Kenya has not recognized the importance of having a disabled commissioner.
To put it differently, disabled persons have been denied the opportunity of voicing the voice of the largest minority group.
Its not that the disabled persons don’t have concerns on the land matter but it is clear that disabled are the most disadvantaged on land matters.
Disabled persons have lost land to family, relatives and friends, they are also disinherited by the relatives, land taken away without their consent etc.
Regrettably, no human rights body nor the disability movement advocated for the disabled person to be taken on board. Even after the gazettement of the current list no one came to voice the agenda. Where is the so-called disability caucus group?
Why did the chairperson of the gender commission who doubled as the task force chair didn’t voice this discrepancy?
Will the disabled individuals be locked out of the upcoming IEBC commission job?
The jeury is out there.

For a thriving and leadership someone could have taken responsibility of this Agenda. pick me up!
Disable persons organization and disabled persons and allies need to rise up and advocate for better appointments and representation.
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.

Kenya society for the Blind need to be led by Blind and vision impaired persons Author Mugambi Paul

Kenya society for the Blind need to be led by Blind and vision impaired persons
Author Mugambi Paul

believe this as much today as we did in 1940. Unfortunately, too many Kenyan people
still take literally the parable that says when the blind lead the blind,
both will fall into the ditch. In 1950 our hope said that a literal
interpretation was wrong, and our experience now confirms it day after day,
year after year, decade after decade.
This is when the formation of Kenya Union of the Blind took place.
Unfortunately most never lived to see the fruits of there labour as veterans.
This affirmed by the heroes and heroines in the Blindness sector who have either gone ahead of us.
Some of these have provided great leadership and others have refused to pass on the baton to the generations to come.
I affirm that Kenya union of the Blind is one of the sleeping icons in the country.
As an advocacy organ it has not put any government institution relating to blindness to reform or become accountable to the Blind and vision impaired .
The heroes and heroines in the Blindness sector are turning in to their graves asking what happened?
As I was explaining earlier,
i but parables, stereotypes, and legal beliefs do not easily give way
even in the face of evidence refuting them. Unfortunately, the Blind and visually impaired persons have rendered the public space to be run by others who are not blind or vision impaired.
Kenya society for the Blind is one great example where the blind and vision impaired think they can find solace but it’s all in vain.
Kenya institute for the blind is facing similar predicament.
When was the position advertised?
Was it accessible to the blind and visually impaired persons?
Aren’t there Blind and visually impaired professionals.
Why are we silent on this?
In other words, many professionals who are not blind have mastered to speak on our behalf and have largely misrepresented the Blind and thus the once vibrant blind and vision impaired sector is crying for social justice to prevail.
The blind and vision impaired persons need to scrutinize the positions of the Chief executive officers of these government entities so that they do not become permanent and deny able blind and vision impaired persons from serving their own.

As a public policy scholar, I opine the blind and vision impaired persons need to rise and bring cows back home.
This is to say the blind and vision impaired need to make important decisions on how the blind related organizations ran by government and nonstate actors through having the say.
Secondly as a blind person I know the shoe since am the wearer.
No amount of professional who is neither Blind or vision impaired can understand or have the experience we have.
Thirdly, no wonder Central bank of Kenya and the Kenyan media have collaborated to cheat the public that bank notes are accessible to us the blind and vision impaired persons!
Let the Blind and vision impaired come of age and do the needful.
We are grateful for the support you have offered us,
Let now the Blind and the vision impaired persons be the leaders in the sectors.
Am not surprised that the little kid the Albinism family has been able to build away from home and has fortunately claimed the national cake at its best.
Unfortunately they left the Mother and father “Blind and vision impaired” to suffer.
Furthermore, without blind once built their identity not only on helping the blind but in speaking for us, making
all important decisions for us, and being the interpreters through which
Kenya would hear from its blind unfortunates. Thanks to Kenyan constituent which recognizes the people as the owners and proclamation of public participation and a country that encourages us to reach for our day in the sun as we
pursue the Kenyan dream.
Will the Blind and vision impaired generation not have chief executives who are blind?
Will the future blind and vision impaired generation just see us in the profession of begging and teaching?
I hope the Kenyan blind and vision impaired person now can start to speak for ourselves, direct the
programs that serve us, and tell our communities what we need and which
service providers are delivering it. We still need professionals who learn
to teach the alternative skills we need and to develop ever-more-helpful
equipment, but we do not need these men and women to speak for us but with
us, sharing in the collaboration that creates, maintains, and evaluates
quality services.

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.

Why vehicle tax for the Blind has no sense! Author Mugambi Paul.

Most governments in the world tend to design and develop public policies with interests attached.
This is to say the policy makers and stakeholders have a tendency to influence the outcomes of regulations, guidelines and policy processes.
Moreover, for any public policy to be practically executed for purely benefit of the majority it must have passed through the bottom top approach.
The lack of engaging disabled persons in Kenya in developing most policies has led to have poor execution of most well intended policies.
For example, the tax exemption of vehicles by the treasury ministry seem not to have achieved its purpose.
I affirm that the tax exemption seems to benefit a tiny fraction of the disabled community in Kenya.
In other words, the largest population of the disabled Kenya aren’t enabled.
Why is this?
Majority of the disabled Kenyans are unemployed.
According to ILO report found that excluding people with disabilities from the labor market results in a significant loss to GDP across
Africa and Asia low- and middle-income countries as much as 3-7% of their GDP per year.
According to Public service report 2015 disabled employee persons account for less than 1 % in the public sector.
Furthermore, the purpose of the Kenya revenue authority is to collect maximum taxes and anything aimed at reducing it will cause jitters.
Another reason is lack of awareness amongst the disabled population this is evidently seen and expressed by this article. by https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2000013873/the-disabled-still-pay-tax-despite-exemptions
With this notwithstanding, one of the marginalized groups among the disabled on this tax exemption is the Blind community who face triple tribulation.
Some of my findings among the blind community ascertain that this vehicle exemption doesn’t make sense.
This is because the Kenya revenue excepts the tax waver for a blind person but on the other hand, they take away by form of ensuring the blind is under the spell of paying more
Needless to say, the bureaucratic process itself makes the disabled person to give up.
The Kenya revenue authority needs to invest technology to reduce the bureaucratic and tedious processes when the disabled acquire there services.
I opine not just technology but an inclusive universally designed to soot all.
couldn’t the Kenyan government find a proper affirmative action for transport for blind commuters?
In most developed nations where Kenya emulates and copies most public policies; they could get the best on transport concerns.
Did I miss a bench marking tour by the ministry of transport in Kenya?
The jury is out there!

Implementation of progressive inclusive public policies regulations and guidelines will benefit the majority of the disabled.
Its high time policy makers in Kenya held consultations with the disabled persons to understand there needs and see how they can benefit majority.

We need to have proport policies which will benefit all.
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.

am I a indigenous disabled person Retracing my roots: Author Mugambi Paul.

As I joined the cultural exchange activity during the triple A assembly in Brisbane.
Many thoughts came to my mind.
When one of the tour guides gave me one of the traditional instruments to test.
It reminded me of my indigenous roots as a disabled person.
The tour guide and fellow Australian African award team were mesmerized how I blew the wind instrument with ease.
The thoughts which were in my mind were the lack of water access in 2019 in my rural village while have seen sufficiency of water through out in may stay in Australia.
The land where they don’t have enough water sources like Kenya.
Secondly, I thought of how my community has eroded the culture activities and materials.
I resolved to start a Canberra cultural center which will defiantly bring back my indigenous culture.
I remembered I never so my grandfather whom am named after.
He died as a hero fight for the rights of the people during the colonial era.
Stories are being told of how he never entertained colonial rule.
He was a strong defender of women rights.
Could I have inherited his traits?
I sometimes run away from my passion of advocating for the rights of disabled persons, but I find myself back.
Could this be my purpose of life?
Grandpa just whisper to me!
If he was alive, I believe the Kenya gender story would have been different.
All is not lost.
We as the exposed energetic and intellectually grown up have to rise to the occasion and bring back our culture alive.
For once I thought the aboriginals are related to my indigenous culture.
As a public policy expert am now duty bound to restore the history for the sake of future generation.
Australia celebration of the indigenous cultures and the multicultural events and activities have really restored hope and faith that we can live together and enjoy every one’s cultures.
I believe other expertise is needed to initiate restoration of indigenous culture. More so I will be digging out the indigenous disability culture.
How many fellow Africans are ready to travel the unchartered roots of our cultures?
We need to tell our story no matter the decades and the distorted narratives that have prevailed.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.

The Blocks to Disability Leadership and the mercantile economy of Kenya Author Mugambi Paul

Should disability leaders give up their work?

What world you do when you are in an office and all documents are inaccessible?
What would you do if you turned up for work and you had to climb a 3-meter brick wall to get into the office?
Ask the Nyeri law courts.
What about if everyone conducted team meetings
using PowerPoint and print materials?
How would you feel if you complained and nobody seemed to care?
The Kenyan public space has basically normalized this habit.
Yet, Kenya is the signatory and has domesticated the UNCRPD.
Kenya is known worldwide to have progressive laws and policies.
Imagine if we would have at list 10 % implementation of accessibility!
Let me give an example of the normalcy which occurs daily.

Some contemporaries of mine went to work the other day.

No big deal, hey. Lots of people go to work every day.

The difference is these colleagues are disability leaders. They are well respected in their various fields and regularly lead the public conversation about
disability. They are somehow not tough people I know, allot much gets in their way.
They mostly forget to bring the cows home by not demanding what’s is rightfully and constitutionally there’s.
!
This is to say, most of the public and private conferences in Kenya are held inaccessible areas.
Mostly, the disability leaders aren’t able to transact their work obligations as expected because the workshops and business areas are normally inaccessible. Very inaccessible. Should I say even the Kenyan parliament is among the list?
A place where the largest minority or marginalized group are supposed to find solace.
Should we continue with boardroom discussion on how to make accessibility real?
Or just continue with our social media rhetoric discussions?
Should we wait for another Kibaki moment to actualize the dreams of our heroes and heroines in the disability world?
Where is the accessibility voice space?
Who should be bringing the sector in to order?
The government and human rights bodies in Kenya “hamwoni hi ni dhuluma?” What I am
particularly annoyed by isn’t the inaccessibility, well actually that does annoy me, rather I’m very annoyed that a bunch of disability leaders have continued this trend to
work expecting to perform at their usual high standard, and they are unable to do so.

Most of them can’t live the venues or have alternative mode of communication.
That’s why in Kenya we are still talking in boardrooms about accessibility.
If one day the disability leaders walked out in protest of inaccessible venues and products it will be the turning point.
Through a social media survey, I actually noted that some disabled leaders aren’t involved by public and private entities into workshops.
They are normally left out and remain in offices.
There bosses tend to claim they are stubborn when they demand for reasonable accommodation.

How many local and international conferences have taken place in Kenya and accessibility becomes an afterthought?

This is a total distress and lack of engagement.
This affirms why disabled persons are not represented in most of the forums and become last to be remembered.

How is that the answer? Should disability leaders be giving up their work, or should conferences and workplaces be more committed to ensuring accessibility?

Newsflash: accessibility isn’t an extra or a nice thing to have, its mandatory if you want disabled people in the room. If you think diversity is of any
value at all then accessibility is part of your regular processes, it’s just how you operate. You budget for it, make it happen, build it in from the outset.
You choose venues that work, and make sure there are rapid responses to any issues that arise. You don’t argue and able plain and put the onus back onto
the disability leader to get less disabled, you take responsibility for making accessibility happen and you fix it quickly when it doesn’t.
which government building in Kenya is accessible for the disabled persons?
Most importantly, you make sure the people designing the access are those who know about access and have professional experience in accessibility.
This means they will also be disabled people. These access experts should be paid for their work, just like your sound technicians and caterers.
Obviously, lack of recognition of disabled experts has been normalized by the system, which we need to break.
and that makes it unusual. Most incidents of inaccessibility happen to individuals, often in workplaces that aren’t supportive or have managers who think
they know better, or they are single barriers affecting individuals at offices, seminars rather than everyone, so we never hear about them.
Mostly when organizers realize their mistake.
They normally result in a formal apology during the final plenary. Unfortunately, most of the disability leaders accept and move on.
Additionally, most apologies do not include a commitment to recruit disabled people onto the organising committee in the
future, nor did they include a reference to the same situation happening at the previous conference and this incident being a repeat.

There are still significant barriers to disability leadership.

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.

Researchers Developing Tech that Allows Blind People To See Through The Eyes Of a Sighted Person u

A team of researchers from Rice University in Houston, Texas is developing technologies that might allow a blind person to see the world through the eyes of a sighted person.
The project will involve sharing visual images between two brains. It will read the vision of a sighted person and transfer the images this person sees into the brain of a blind person “telepathically” in less than 1/20th of a second.
A team of neuroengineers has begun working on a headset or a helmet that directly links the human brain to machines without the need for surgery. This headset and the technologies that power it will enable this telepathic visual sharing.
It works by using both light and magnetic fields to interact with specially reprogrammed neurons in the brain of the wearer. The research team plans to transmit visual images perceived by one individual into the minds of blind patients as proof of concept.
This ambitious, four-year long effort is called the Magnetic, Optical and Acoustic Neural Access (MOANA) project. It’s being supported by $18 million in funding from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
DARPA is interested in the project because of its Next-Generation Nonsurgical Neurotechnology (N3) program aiming to develop two-way interfaces that can transmit data between the human brain and machines.
Sharing visual images between two brains sounds futuristic, but Jacob Robinson, the lead investigator, said a number of recent technological breakthroughs make the idea feasible.
“We have to decode neural activity in one person’s visual cortex and recreate it in another person’s mind in less than one-twentieth of a second,” said Robinson. “The technology to do that, without surgery, doesn’t yet exist. That’s what we’ll be creating.”

Since surgery to implant a device into the human brain can’t be used, the Rice team plans to use a combination of light, ultrasound or electromagnetic energy to read and write brain activity. MOANA will test techniques that employ all three.
Robinson said MOANA’s decoding and encoding technologies will each employ viral vector gene delivery, a technology that’s in clinical trial for treating macular degeneration, some cancers and neurological conditions.
To “read” neural activity, the Rice MOANA team will reprogram neurons to make synthetic proteins called “calcium-dependent indicators” designed to absorb light when a neuron is active or firing.
“Our aim is to capture and interpret the information contained in photons that pass through the skull twice, first on their way to the visual cortex and again after they are reflected back to the detector,” said co-investigator Ashok Veeraraghavan.
The MOANA team includes 15 co-investigators from Rice, Baylor College of Medicine, the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children’s Hospital, Duke University, Columbia University and Yale’s John B. Pierce Laboratory.

OFF MY CHEST: What dating with a disability is really like Guest Author Nicole Mballah

In a world that’s technically built for the able bodied, dating as a differently abled person is doubly hard.
Trust me; I’ve had my fair share of troubles finding love.
Physical limitations are a part of a disabled person’s life, facing countless barriers every day.
We often have a routine to make things easier. When it comes to dating, minor things can require major planning and preparation.
Usually these are the questions that follow suit; where do we get an appropriate taxi? Does the building have an elevator? Does the restaurant have a ramp?
Is it too noisy or crowded to move around freely? All these things and more have to be taken into account.
But it’s not all gloom. I once went on a memorable date with this guy where not once did it fell like my disability played a part or affected him. We were just two people genuinely having a good time talking and hanging out. My disability was not a topic of conversation the whole night; I was simply a woman he was interested in.
BIGGEST OBSTACLE
In my opinion, the biggest obstacle to dating is social perceptions; I always find that people think that those of us living with a disability are either asexual or ‘undateable’.
People often think about how our disability will inconvenience them, rather than trying to consider if the relationship will work. I wish people knew that we‘re like everyone, with just a few barriers.
I’ve done my fair share of online dating and while it was fun at times, I’ve also experienced rejection.
I always try to be upfront about my disability, sometimes disclosing it on my dating profile and including a picture with my crutches into the mix.
In the words of pop singer Anne Marie:
“Love every single part of my body, top to the bottom. I’m not a super model from a magazine, I’m okay with not being perfect cause that’s perfect to me.”
My dating life has been bitter sweet. I sometimes meet men who are uncomfortable with my disability, stopping conversations once they find out or having to answer strange questions about having a disability, like ‘Can you have sex?’ and the outright weird that go ‘You’re too pretty to be disabled’, to potential dates who thought it was weird if they liked me.
While also meeting guys who accepted my disability, assisting me whenever I needed it, simply moving chairs out of the way at restaurants, just being helpful without it being too much.
Even if those dates didn’t turn out to be long term relationships I learnt valuable lessons, for every person that rejected me for my disability there was a person who didn’t.
If you reject someone with a disability, you might be forgetting that we all might have a disability in some way, it might not be visible so don’t assume to be superior.
Dating with a disability is always a challenge, whether it’s online or going on a blind date.
Don’t be afraid to make a connection. There is no correct way to do it. Don’t let the rejections get you down that’s just a part of life.
If you’re honest about who you are and what you want; there is always a door full of possibilities waiting to be opened.

Should I openly identify as disabled? Guest Author Christina Ryan

Should I openly identify as disabled?
Guest Author
Christina Ryan

Without role models culture won’t change.

One of the perennial topics of conversation in the disability community is whether someone should openly identify as disabled in their workplace. It’s a thorny issue and for good reason.

So, many people with disabilities have made the decision to openly identify and then experienced serious consequences, even losing their jobs over it. Of course, you can’t be sacked specifically because of your disability, there is legislation in many countries to prevent this, but you can be made to feel very very unwelcome and decide to leave. Many people have stories to share about themselves or about colleagues in the disability community.

Employment rates are low for disabled people, retention rates aren’t much better. What can we do to avoid the constant recruitment trap? Losing staff and constantly needing to recruit is hardly the solution, there must be other ways to build disability workforce so that we are also building disability leadership.

Recently I’ve been talking with disability leaders about being role models in their workplaces. Given that most people with disabilities are not visibly disabled this is a big ask. Yet it’s crucial to have senior role models so that culture changes and so that new recruits can see what is possible for them in an organisation. This is the “be what you can see” strategy. This strategy has worked increasingly well for women and for Indigenous peoples over the last couple of decades. We need to start using it for employees with disabilities as well.

Unfortunately, this places enormous pressure on disability leaders when they have already pushed very hard to get where they are, and just want to get on with being another employee, not a crusader.

Why must individual disabled people put their careers and financial security on the line?

Being part of a network, having peers at your level, and being part of a broader professional disability community (like the Disability Leadership Institute) are all contributions to how you can be supported if you decide to openly identify. However, none of these will prevent discrimination or ableist responses. Networks may provide assistance in knowing you are not alone and help with sharing solutions, but they don’t change the attitudes of others.

Of course, many people do not have the option of choosing to disclose as we are readily identifiable. In some ways this makes it easier as we don’t live with the anxiety of being exposed or choosing to make the decision to be open, but in other ways it makes it much harder as the prejudice starts before we even get in the room. We are left out of invitations or excluded from new projects because it is assumed we aren’t the best and brightest. All without someone knowing anything about us, except that we are disabled.

There is no easy answer, if there was we wouldn’t still be having the conversation.

People with disabilities are all different. As the single largest minority on the planet today, we are not generic, we are incredibly diverse. Our community is highly intersectional. Our one common thread is our disability and the prejudice and exclusion that it brings. Unfortunately, many of the responses to disability in the workplace are generic, rather than built round the individual, and this compounds the barriers to achieving career success and leadership positions.

We can’t shift the culture until we have critical mass, we won’t achieve critical mass while the culture remains as it is.

We need disabled people in far greater numbers in the public domain to achieve the culture shift that is desperately needed. However, this won’t happen until we are in a wide variety of positions and fields in strong numbers and openly recognised for our contribution to local, national and global leadership. People with disabilities are already in many of these places but are not openly identifying as disabled because the risks are so high, and why should they?

Why the Kenyan census 2019 remains a mystery to the many poor and disabled Kenyans! Author Mugambi M. Paul

Over 1 billion people globally, including 494 million in Sub-Saharan Africa (roughly 45% of the population), lack government-recognized proof of identification [UN 2017.] This hampers their access to critical financial and social services and raises barriers to exercising political and economic rights. Obviously, several studies have shown that lack of desegregated
data among the disabled persons has greatly impacted negatively towards lives of the disabled community [world bank 2011].
According to [KBS 2009] Kenyans with disabilities make up 3.8 %.
However, these statistics are debatable and disabled persons organizations have argued that proper mechanisms were not in place.
Will the 2019 August census in Kenya be different?
The answer lies on the shoulders of the Kenya neural of statistics.
They have been able to adapt the Washington set of questions, but this will be put in to test during the data collections.
However, in the development of the censor’s committees still disabled persons organizations nor the county disability officers are not represented.
This is a great setback of ensuring inclusivity and raising the voice of persons with disabilities.
The policy makers need to adopt measures urgently at the ministry of interior to ensure disability representatives are added. This should not just be for quantity but provide quality and real representation in public participation.
Additionally, the county governments need to be keen on what the data of persons with disabilities mean in matters of service delivery and enhancement of proper support for persons with disabilities ]2010 Kenyan constitution]. It’s prudent to mention that the county governments are the service providers in their own counties.
persons with disabilities and thee organizations need to knock on the county government to ensure that the census collected becomes meanful in service delivery and planning.
At list a third of the counties have enacted county disability laws but are yet to implement.
I take note that Persons with disabilities face several challenges in receiving identification documents and presenting these documents to access services.
There is no exact information to show how many disabled persons have received particular government or private sector services.
What is emerging clearly as a public policy scholar I uphold Kenya should adapt to data driven analysis.
is in order to fight poverty.
Thus having need evidence-based thinking and plenty of good data.
The Kenyan census should be huge part of this phenomenon. Although it can be easy to overlook, it’s actually incredibly important because this data will inform the Kenyan government decisions that will shape millions of lives.
Recognizing this, I believe Kenya has a chance of its new census data to be more accurate, comprehensive, and granular than in the past. Will the Kenya beural of statistics switch to digital tablets? Will the Kenya bural of statistics use satellite imagery to make sure households in rural areas don’t go undiscovered and uncounted? The jury is out there.
I look forward for a disability desegregated data at the county levels.

I trust The government is now seriously committed to a “leave no one behind” ethic, which means counting every single person in the population. That includes people who are sometimes called “the invisible” — those who live in slums, disabled persons , who are homeless, or who are institutionalized.

These people are harder to reach, but without counting them and identifying which places they’re concentrated in and which services they lack, it’s difficult to design targeted interventions that will actually help them. Kenya and other African countries are increasingly treating this kind of data-driven approach as crucial to their development.
The Kenya bural of statistics must adapt many new ways which Kenya is leveraging data. That includes a biometric national ID system the so called Hudumanumber. (more than 30 million Kenyans have registered for it so far.
I suggest that Kenya adapts a digital address system (whereby every five square meters in the country will have its own unique address).
This way government can target services to people, once you know where they are.
How do you count “the invisible”?

Kenya’s census will take place in August 2019 for 3 days not a lot of time to survey a population of approximately 50 million people. But I believe the preparations begun well in advance, and this time, they will include a lot of help from new technology.

For the first time, will the enumerators use digital tablets to survey the population?I opine that through this they will be able to have answers to be checked for inconsistencies or omissions in real time. Will the Kenyan bural of statistics use Electronic maps?
This will help enumerators make sure they’re counting everyone in their demarcated area. GPS will pinpoint and record the exact location where each interview will be conducted.

Meanwhile, will the Kenyand government officials use satellite imagery to identify all housing structures in the country?
I affirm that if the enumerators go out into the field, an image showing which locations they’ve covered will be overlaid on top of the satellite imagery.
This will allow the officials to determine which areas may have been missed.

Usually it’s in rural areas, enumerators may not have known people are living there.
The Hudumanamba enrollment should be a wake-up call before the census begins.
Most developed and developing nations are increasingly looking to leapfrog challenges with traditional ID systems by moving to digital identification systems through the use of new technologies. Kenyan government has not been left behind since it’s a leader in digital Enovation in Africa.
The Kenyan government has introduced Hudumanamba system for its all citizens and the diaspora populations.
Digital identification systems are attractive to governments due to potential benefits of universal coverage and unique authentication. Were persons with disabilities, organizations for persons with disabilities consulted on the process?
It seems the government of Kenya denied its citizens the public participation
And say on this agenda. This has led to a court case making it voluntary to register for Hudumanamba.
On the other hand, Kenyans who need services might find themselves at catch 22 when the hudumanamba services will be rolled out.

Digital identification systems use a range of technologies include biometrics scanners, facial recognition, artificial intelligence, and other emerging mobile technologies.
The rapid moves towards digital identification systems raises both opportunities and challenges in ensuring that persons with disabilities can register for, receive, and use their unique identification. Will the disabled persons stop using the disabled cards?
Will the registration of newly disabled persons be conducted after the Huduanamba registration?
What’s the link between the registration for disabled persons and the hudumanamba roll out?
It seems the Kenyan government still stand accused of enhancing bureaucracy towards achievement of vital services to persons with disabilities with this unlinked processes and procedures.

Hudumanamba card is speculated it will offer alternative mechanisms to ensure that the lack of breeder documents (e.g. birth certificates) do not hamper individuals’ abilities to receive important credentials and open pathways to receiving economic and social services. At the same time, they need to be carefully designed to ensure accessibility and inclusion. Some of the Problems that emerged during the Hudumanamba registration included when persons with disabilities were unable to provide biometric data. e.g. due to lack of an iris or fingerprints), algorithms did not recognize certain facial features, or most hudumanamba centers fail to provide accessible accommodations and exceptions.
For instance, lack of alternative formats for the information, which was being gathered to the Blind, vision impaired, intellectual impaired and the Deafblind,
Another example is the inaccessible venues for the hudumanamba registration.
This was also coupled by Lack of staff training, and awareness of disability issues.
Furthermore, many disabled persons allegedly reported mistreatment during the process.
Thus, having significant challenges in the process of registration.
Will the Kenya bural l of statistics take lessons for the upcoming census?
The jury is outside!
All in all, the globe is embracing the digitalization of government services.
Disabled persons are not to be left behind.
Solution is to ensure we have inclusive policy and regulations
Thus, enabling the policy implementation to cater for the needs and priorities of disabled persons.
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.

Why the disabled in Kenya should stop reading lamentation Author Mugambi Paul.

Generally speaking, Kenya is facing deteriorating standards an alarming trend and of service delivery to persons with disabilities.
Of course, Recently, there has been lots of reports of rights violations of disabled and more so among girls and women with disabilities. Some of the atrocities have ranged from rape, inflicting gross bodily harm, to murder.
Noticeably, Disabled persons organizations and social media users have broadcasted the information.
What next?
Another example is a case of
a lady 20 years, made National News after she gave birth at Uhuru Park. The previous night having been kicked out of her lodging in Muthurwa for failing to pay half US dollar. She could not even afford a tenth of a US dollar to use a public toilet when she resorted to be at the park and there, she had her baby. All heathy as the dailies in Kenya reported.
How did we find ourselves here?
For how long shall we have the broken system in place?
Disability policy makers should have an ardent call to adjust their belts and raise the alarm.
This is by fastening the legislative agenda and pushing for real implementation and oversight of the current laws.
Additionally, in our pursuit to champion for the rights and equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities, ensuring their safety in the society
must always take predominate position.
This is well articulated in the ]UNCRPD 2006[which Kenya has signed and ratified.
Historically, I can vividly remember the great promises that successive governments have made since I was newcomer in the movement. Thus far we are still advocating for the same. For instance, we were told in the early 2000 inaccessible of buildings will be a thing of the past.
Yet many infrastructure projects still do not observe the standards even after the gazettement 2015.
theoretically speaking Kenya has great policies but poor implementation.
This is not to say attempts have not been done to save the situation.

However, it seems the government and the disability policy makers are still engaging in pull and push game.
Why aren’t we represented in the building bridge initiative?
Why aren’t we represented at the independent election and boundaries commission?
This clearly shows the low expectation exhibited by policy makers on the capacities of disabled persons.
Its high time the disabled persons enjoy the national cake not just to take the crumps
Should the disability policy makers change tact?
I observe that during 2018 global London summit Kenya marketed itself as a leader on disability mainstreaming and inclusion.
Nevertheless, the top brass leadership din’t take the lead like the UK counterpart.

Observers expected the Kenyan presidency to take the lead.
It is imperative that the disabled persons and policy stakeholders stands firm and retrieve the lost glory and dreams of the founders of the disability movement in Kenya.
In most developed nations there is a cabinet secretary assigned to handle the exclusively the disability docket.
The latest entrant is Australia.
Where the Liberal MP Stuart Robert will enter cabinet as the minister for the NDIS after the scheme was taken out of the social services portfolio.

Should the disability sector be moved to the presidency?
The jury is out there.
Should the policy makers become innovative and engage more disabled persons?

Apparently, the lack of factual information among the disabled population leads to misinformation and low demand of actual rights.
Furthermore, most decision makers are based in the Nairobi city thus lack of involvement of the rural disability sector.
Most Kenyan policy makers use top bottom approach in decision making.
Moreover, the lack of economic resource has made disabled persons to be vulnerable.
Thus, often taken advantage of.
This is by either accepting to receive poor services or suffer in silence.
Its high time disabled persons in Kenya stopped lamentation.
The focus should be on self-advocacy and knowing the rights.
As individuals and institutions, we all are aware of the barrier’s persons with disabilities face.
They include lack of support systems in place. Poor resourced government services. Lack of representation in the workforce, private sector, low literacy rates among disabled persons,
Inaccessible building and infrastructure.
Lastly,
Low legislative agendas among parliamentarians with disabilities. Etc.
Kenya is arguably, the most unequal society.
According to world bank report 2018 43.6 of persons in Kenya live below the poverty line.
Obviously, disabled persons are triple affected.
It is high time we restored dignity and decency among disabled persons.
One way is by adopting universal basic income to all persons with disabilities.
This will promote economic independence among the largest minority group in Kenya.
This is because it will be a game changer by restoration of dignity on lives of disabled persons.
instead of the current cash transfer system which targets a few individuals with severe disabilities.
As a scholar I believe Inclusion of people with disabilities creates a strong economy by enabling a diverse community contribution which drives future growth.
Why do we have well written policies with poor implementations?
This can happen when disabled persons realize that it’s not the disabled leaders who are the problem.
The problem is individual disabled persons who doesn’t want to take responsibility of self-advocacy and engaging in systematic advocacy.
Of course, This is what the disability leadership has taken advantage of.
The disability leadership knows that the true liberation of disabled community will happen when many more self-advocates have taken their positions
Meanwhile the disabled persons organizations have to live to the promise of transparency and accountability in order to be the real watchdog of government institutions serving persons with disabilities.
This agenda should start among the disabled persons organization membership and structures.
Additionally, the legislators with disabilities have to change by living to the call of being leaders.
Being a leader calls for constant interaction with the disabled people. Listening to the citizens forms the basis of representation and legislation.
This will aid the parliamentarians to lobby and advocate for economically viable legislations to reduce the economic inequalities experienced by 99 % of the disability population in Kenya.
Together we can create new opportunities for inclusive economic growth with benefits for everyone in the community, as well as the person with disability, who may become a customer, client, employee, student, team member or holidaymaker at your organisation, sports club, business, shop, restaurant or rental property.

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.

Scientists Discover How Blind People Know So Much About Appearances guest author Sarah Sloat

The philosopher John Locke, who believed that true knowledge of the world could only stem from sensory experiences, thought that blind individuals could never understand the concepts of light and color. Locke, it turns out, was wrong. In a recent PNAS study, blind people demonstrate that they do understand what sighted people process through vision, proving that “visual” ideas don’t actually require sight.
In the study published Tuesday, scientists demonstrated how blind people make visual sense of what they cannot see. While previous studies suggested that the most efficient way for a blind person to know that, say, a flamingo is pink, is to memorize that fact, this study demonstrates that blind people instead look at the world like scientists and make sense of the visual world through a catalogue of clues.
“First-person experience isn’t the only way to develop a rich understanding of the world around us,” co-author and Johns Hopkins doctoral candidate Judy Kim explains. “People often have the intuition that we can’t know what we can’t see.”
This intuition is wrong, as Kim and her colleagues showed by testing 20 blind and 20 sighted adults, all around 30 years old, about their knowledge of animal appearances. The participants were asked to order a variety of animals by size and height and to sort the animals into groups based on shape, skin texture, and color. They were also presented with a group of animals and asked which one was not like the others.
The study design.
In most cases, the sighted and blind people performed equally well on the test. They sorted the animals in predominantly the same way, and both agreed on which physical features comprised the predominant description of each group of animals. For example, both blind and sighted people described dolphins and sharks to be of similar shape.
What the two groups disagreed about the most was, strangely, the factor that the researchers hypothesized would be the most agreed upon: Color. Sighted participants sometimes had trouble describing the shape of an animal, but they always readily provided its color. Blind people did not. This outcome refuted the “learn-by-description” hypothesis, which posits that blind people learn about objects by hearing the way other people describe them. If this were the case, then the blind participants should have been able to identify color easily, since sighted people seem to always include color in their descriptions.
But color is what blind individuals were least able to identify. And so, the researchers argue that the “learn-by-description” hypothesis must be incorrect and that blind people must gather visual information in a different way: By deducing it from existing knowledge about an object and details related to it.
“In the absence of direct sensory access, knowledge of appearance is acquired primarily through interface, rather than through memorization of verbally stipulated facts,” the scientists write.
How would you describe “pink” without having seen pink?
In other words, blind people take the scientific approach and infer appearances through other properties like taxonomy and habitat. This strategy works well for features like shape and textures; for example, birds have feathers and wings, so it’s implied that this holds true across bird species. Color is less easy to infer. Since there are a lot of animals that are the same color, it’s hard to deduce that, say, bears and ravens are black, based on the other things you know about animals.
But color inaccuracies aside, the research proves what blind people already know: You can have a rich and accurate sense of the world without actually seeing it.
And sometimes, the approach blind people take actually helps them be more accurate. Here, 55 percent of the blind participants and 20 percent of the sighted participants said that sharks have scales; the majority of that group said they have skin. In reality, sharks have fine scales — they are just difficult to see.
Abstract:
How does first-person sensory experience contribute to knowledge? Contrary to the suppositions of early empiricist philosophers, people who are born blind know about phenomena that cannot be perceived directly, such as color and light. Exactly what is learned and how remains an open question. We compared knowledge of animal appearance across congenitally blind (n = 20) and sighted individuals (two groups, n = 20 and n = 35) using a battery of tasks, including ordering (size and height), sorting (shape, skin texture, and color), odd-one-out (shape), and feature choice (texture). On all tested dimensions apart from color, sighted and blind individuals showed substantial albeit imperfect agreement, suggesting that linguistic communication and visual perception convey partially redundant appearance information. To test the hypothesis that blind individuals learn about appearance primarily by remembering sighted people’s descriptions of what they see (e.g., “elephants are gray”), we measured verbalizability of animal shape, texture, and color in the sighted. Contrary to the learn-from-description hypothesis, blind and sighted groups disagreed most about the appearance dimension that was easiest for sighted people to verbalize: color. Analysis of disagreement patterns across all tasks suggest that blind individuals infer physical features from non-appearance properties of animals such as folk taxonomy and habitat (e.g., bats are textured like mammals but shaped like birds). These findings suggest that in the absence of sensory access, structured appearance knowledge is acquired through inference from ontological kind.

The two Sleeping blind giants in Kenya: author Mugambi Paul

Reading the annual general meeting invite by the Kenya society for the blind gives a familiar script.
The process and conduct of doing things seem to be usual.
No logical or pragmatic turnaround of event.
The Kenya Society for the Blind is a statutory charitable organization established in 1956 by an Act of Parliament this institution is meant to guide, offer technical support to matters Blindness and vision impaired to the government and stakeholders.
Has Kenya society for the Blind lived to its promises envisaged in the 1956 at?
What is the role of government in ensuring the Blind and vision impaired persons live to exploit their potentials?
Did the government escape duty and obligation to the blind and vision impaired persons?
When shall we have the updated Kenya society for the blind act to meet the current issues faced by the blind and vision impaired persons?
The act needs to be aligned with the Kenyan constitution 2010, UNCRPD, Public ethics act and public participations act.

This is not to say that nothing is happening.
As a matter of fact,
Kenya society for the blind has held several charity activities geared towards education of the blind pupils.
Additionally, there are many grey areas on matters Blindness and vision impairment in Kenya.
Its either the Kenya Blindness sector has decided to be dormant or the system has refused to change.
For instance, in matters governance even with known lawyers we aren’t able to differentiate the roles played by board members and staff.
This is totally uncalled for and review needs to be done urgently.

This seems to be a common practice among the disabled persons organization in
Kenya. With this notwithstanding, in matters programming several issues can be raised.
What are the pros and cons of having car garages in the premises?
How many blind and vision impaired persons have gainfully been absorbed by the new ventures?

Several studies and social media posts have continuously demonstrated this behavior.

https://m.facebook.com/groups/782290015159886?view=permalink&id=1860411574014386&refid=46&__xts__%5B0%5D=12.%7B%22unit_id_click_type%22%3A%22graph_search_results_item_tapped%22%2C%22click_type%22%3A%22result%22%2C%22module_id%22%3A8%2C%22result_id%22%3A%22100000309023349%3A1860411574014386%22%2C%22session_id%22%3A%2294af8b3a8130b8cd80ffb146320fa7d7%22%2C%22module_role%22%3A%22FEED_POSTS%22%2C%22unit_id%22%3A%22browse_rl%3Abab2c8d9-58c6-03bb-6970-555f4984237d%22%2C%22browse_result_type%22%3A%22browse_type_story%22%2C%22unit_id_result_id%22%3A1860411574014386%2C%22module_result_position%22%3A0%2C%22result_creation_time%22%3A1539597936%7D&__tn__=%2As
secondly on face value the Kenya union of the blind is supposed to be the voice of blind and vision impaired in Kenya.
theoretically, Kenya union of the blind is mandated to be bold and grant the self and systemic advocacy initiatives among the blind and vision impaired persons.
It’s an institution where the blind and vision impaired persons can be able to become self-advocate.
It is also a platform
For engagement with government and stakeholders.
Can we claim the blind and vision impaired persons are self-advocates?
Is there a mentorship and leadership practice?
Where is the status implementation of marekesh treaty??
In matters governance Kenya union of the blind stand to be condemned for its status.
Am not surprised that the largest blindness organization in Kenya has the same chairperson for the last 30 years.

To make the matters worse
The chairperson was appointed as a commissioner in a state organ which is also supposed to play an oversight role on disability matters in the country.
This is a true example of conflict of public interests!
This discussion is held in low tones in the disability sector.
Am not flabbergasted when the Kenyan blindness sector has not experienced significant reforms for its current and future generations.
The barriers faced by blind and vision impaired persons have been compounded by the sleeping advocacy organ.
It seems the mediocre practises are in the Kenyan DNA.
Several researches have shown how many blind and vision impaired persons have low esteem combined with the restrictive environment they have lived.
This affirms why most individuals with disabilities are not able to advocate for themselves.
On the other hand, the disabled persons who seem to advocate for themselves are treated as riles or individuals who are outcasts.
Its high time the Kenyan blindness sector arose from slumbered and demonstrate with collective and unifying voice life will be better for present and future generation of the Blind and vision impaired persons. A clarion call is be stalled upon individuals to show the light.
As Martin Niemöller a prominent Lutheran pastor in reference to the Nazi regime, once said;
“First, they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out; because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out; because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out; because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Furthermore, there has been rise of new entrants in the Kenyan blindness sector.
In other words, the new kids on the block in the blindness and vision impaired sector need to take lessons from the 2 sleeping giants.
This will aid effective engagement and bring the blind and vision impaired persons to their rightful place.
The Kenyan government needs to establish an oversight agency to ensure the Blind and vision impaired persons do not become vulnerable under this circumstance.
Its clearly known that there are no support mechanisms in place to support blind and vision impaired persons.
The 98 % of the blind and vision impaired individuals are just survivors in Kenya.

some recommendations to the Kenya society for the blind and Kenya union of the blind.
1. Put the house in order by reviewing the ACT of 1956. By public participation and engaging policy makers.
2. Review the governance and regulation policies.
3. Conduct a self-surgery before the reforms take place. To demonstrate this, we Kenya used to have telephone booths later on Mobile took over. We used to have tined cooking oil now we have rapped and plastic cooking oils.to bring matters to perspective, Kenya society for the Blind used to advocate for persons with albinism. Things changed drastically and now persons with albinism left the Blind and vision impaired wagon for better tides.
All in all, the future is bright for the blind and vision impaired persons.
As a public policy scholar on diversity and inclusion I will strive to contribute by rearing many more disabled persons to be their own best advocate
I have recognized that as a blind person, if you know the laws and understand your rights you are the most authentic spokesperson for yourself. Thus, much of my work is now cut out
It doesn’t matter the time, but we are heading there.
Advocacy is one of the most important reasons for me to connect with disabled people and their families. When I do, I will teach them that they are not alone,
I will empower them with the tools to raise their own expectations, and I will connect them with an unparalleled network that will be a lifelong resource for them
to continue to be strong advocates for themselves.

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.

Life took her eyes but with gifted hands sky is the limit Guest writer LISA MUGUND

d her two children as she adjusted to her new life. She recounts that it was the darkest point in her life. She had studied orthopaedic, plaster and traction techniques at the Kenya Medical Training College but now the course was irrelevant, since she needed eyes to earn from the skills. Her brother enrolled her for vocational training at the Machakos Institute for the Blind.
It is here that she studied Shiatsu, a Japanese massaging method. It uses no oil and the patient is fully dressed when being attended to. It is a deep-tissue method of massaging to help heal common ailments and to correct imbalances in the body.
It is through this that Ms Tumaini found her niche. After graduating, she got an internship at a spa, where she mastered work with real clients and finally secured a job. She now gets all types of clients with various ailments. Some have back problems, others have muscle and joint pains. The ailments show in the form of headaches, stress, anxiety, constipation, fatigue, digestive disorders and joint pains.
HOUSE CALLS
“People think massage is a luxury, but it is a very important therapy that has transformed people’s lives”, she said. “I have treated patients unable to walk upright because of aching backs, after a few sessions of therapy they walk upright and are in no pain.”
Ms Tumaini said that what she does should be classified under the medical department and not seen as a luxury because she transforms people’s lives, just like doctors do.
What she lacks in sight, she makes up in touch. Ms Tumaini said that she is able to fully focus on her sense of touch to feel a patient’s pressure point and where muscles are stiff, thereby paying more attention to the areas.
Her greatest challenge is not knowing the location of her client’s home when doing house calls.
She walks with the aid of a white cane and needs a guide at times to help her cross roads or walk on paths she’s not familiar with. Sometimes she asks for assistance from strangers on the road.
Some flatly tell her that they are in a hurry and therefore cannot guide her, others are usually willing to help. Sometimes such challenges result in her getting to her client late, and she has been sent back for not keeping time. Some strangers have taken advantage of her situation and led her to the wrong place. Someone even drugged her and attempted to rob her but she screamed her lungs out when she started feeling weak and realised his intentions. She was rescued by the public.
WHITE CANES
She has to work extra hard to get money for the upkeep of her children as well as their school fees.
Ms Tumaini would like the government to create employment for the blind because many are well educated but do not have jobs.
“People think the blind can only sell sweets or beg in the streets, but there’s so much we can offer,” she said.
She would also like to request the government to bring down the cost of white canes.
“They are very expensive and not everyone can afford them. The cheapest costs Sh3,000. These canes are our identity in society and they guide us when we are walking alone,” she said.
Does she feel sorry for herself? “Not at all”, she answered. “You know the difference between a blind person and one who sees is the perception of light. As long as your brain is functioning just right, there is nothing a blind person cannot do. We can even pass thread through a needle!”
She believes the first step for people who find themselves in similar circumstances is to accept that it is now part of their lives and find a way towards healing through counselling. Support from family is also very important. She also urges parents to children with special needs not to hide them in their homes or separate them from other people. “Their children have so much potential even in their state. Just support them and find a way to help them be independent, feel loved and confident in themselves. They will surprise you what they can do,” she says.

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”