The cry for low-income broadband subsidy for Kenyans with disabilities!
Author Mugambi Paul
It’s been a boisterous year. If one thing has become clear during this global pandemic, it’s that keeping the economy, education, healthcare, and community support systems in motion has hinged on our ability to connect to fast, reliable internet. Internet connectivity should be seen as an essential service, and all people should be empowered to benefit from the wealth of experiences it creates like increased access to health care, remote education, and work-from-home opportunities.
Not having internet connectivity at home has prevented too many people from performing daily duties, and the impact this has had on the disability community has been even more restrictive.
This is to mean we can’t meet the sustainable development goals by living others behind.
Worse still, some government in the global south like Kenya are increasing taxes to internet services as evidenced by the July implementation of budget 2021.
moreover, Disability and poverty often go hand-in-hand [ILO 2015, UNDP 2019 HI 2015 IDA 2009.
Did the Kenyan policy makers forget this fact?
[ according to G3ict and world telecommunication many persons with disabilities that lack high-speed broadband service, internet browsing devices, and digital literacy training face intersecting disparities that only perpetuate unequal opportunity and the pattern of inaccessibility these communities historically have faced.
The digital divide faced by people with disabilities creates prevalent barriers that cause isolation and segregation from mainstream society and limit our community’s potential and we cannot waste any more time on this issue. According to the WHO 2011 15 % of the world population are persons with disabilities. O which 80 % live in the global south. Obviously, majority do not have access to internet.
This disproportion heavily hinders people with disabilities from seeking jobs and learning opportunities. Getting connected to high-speed internet both empowers and enables people with disabilities to become more independent. Even more, this gap in the digital divide is a barrier for people to complete critical everyday tasks like learning, or even high-priority activities like looking up job information online or making an appointment to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. During this period of virtual schooling, students with disabilities often lacked the proper tools and accessibility to navigate this mode of instruction.
This gap in access to education makes it all the more likely that graduating students with disabilities are even more at risk for entering a cycle of unequal treatment as they try to enter the workforce. Even for those with disabilities already in the workforce, a lack of commitment to virtual accessibility has meant that disabled employees have not been able to reap the benefits of working from home.
According to disability sausage media, most businesses still don’t factor accessibility into their products, services and communications; whether it’s providing closed captions on video calls to make sure all employees can participate to help those with hearing impairment,
explanation of non-visual access to the blind, or making websites accessible to all. It’s also about providing digital literacy education to help all people learn.
As disability sausage media we recognize the need to close the digital divide and we sensitize through advocacy for business owners, government entities and private sectors programmes to become more inclusive. We strive to increase the political and economic power of people with disabilities, and we know that it’s time for governments in the global south to do the same by supporting a long-term low-income broadband subsidy that will help guarantee the educational benefits and economic prosperity that comes with the ability to get online.
All in all, the UN needs to include internet service as a human rights issue by developing resolutions on this agenda.
declare intendent Now is the time to ensure there is equal and reliable access for all citizens of global south, especially those with disabilities and other marginalized communities. I opine Technology has so much potential to increase independence and expand community connection in the lives of people with disabilities. To make this our reality governments in the global south must take bold action and create change in providing a long-term broadband subsidy to ensure that low-income communities have the resources they need to take full advantage of the opportunities that are available on the internet.
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The views expressed here are for the author and do not represent any agency or organization.
Mugambi Paul is a public policy, diversity, inclusion and sustainability expert.
Australian Chief Minister Award winner
“Excellence of making inclusion happen”