Shielding rights of persons with disabilities Author Mugambi Paul

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”

 

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has turned our everyday lives upside down. Recently, its impact on persons with disabilities has been felt in almost all spheres of life.

More barriers on inclusion have been identified by different studies by by individuals with disabilities, organizations of persons with disabilities, governments and also other stakeholders.

For many reasons, people with disabilities are among the groups most at risk in this pandemic. Their often compromised health status means they have a high risk of adverse outcomes if they get the virus; their need for personal care and support with everyday living makes it more difficult to take effective precautions such as social distancing; and, the well-documented inability of health systems to respond adequately to people with disabilities means health services will struggle to provide them with quality care during the pandemic.

People with intellectual disabilities in particular will find it difficult to understand what is happening during this time and are very susceptible to isolation and loneliness. For some, the restrictions on visitors to family or group homes, and limited access or support to use online technology, have meant little or no contact with friends and family for months.

The same story is affecting blind and vision impaired persons. Not even many are aware the proper wearing of masks. Most adverts are too visual thus rendering communication barrier.

 

Needless to say, the role of health services in Kenya is by the county governments.

This has seen had failed to quickly recognize and respond to the greater risks of COVID-19 on people with disabilities, leaving this community disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Early emergency plans focused on older people. In Kenya we are yet to see disability specific pans or even outlined measures by both national and county governments on disability corona response.

Additionally, in other jurisdiction we have seen development of disability advisory committees which is quite important in ensuring article 4 of the UNCRPd is implemented.

We hope soon we can have a disability telephone help line dedicated towards addressing the challenges.

Some silver lining has been seen in some nations on the reopening up of economies by provision of disability inclusive plans and actions.

Will African countries follow same way or we shall ensure protection of rights of persons with disabilities ins not achieved?

 

 

 

Why we must dismantle social ableism Author Mugambi paul.

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”

 

 

As COVID-19 has drastically changed the way we live and relate to one another, Kenyans with disabilities like me have been living in fear, not just of the virus, but of community attitudes to our lives and existence. The pandemic has brought to the forefront deeply ableist ideas held by our society that see disabled lives as disposable. Our lives are not worth living, and are not worthy of the same care and protection. Our deaths do not carry with them the same grief and sorrow that abled deaths do. We are casualties that must be accepted for the greater good of our economy.

This discourse has dangerously manifested in our hospitals, shaping COVID-19 triaging policies and the way medical professionals treat persons with disabilities– with or without the virus.

Globally, its evidently clear some nations they have   disregard for lives of persons with disabilities.

People with disability have been identified as particularly “vulnerable” to this potentially deadly illness. If only we all had the freedom to decide who, and how many people, we have contact with in our own homes.

.

For instance, president of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has expressed sadness over the death of Nathaniel Julius, a teenager with Down syndrome, during a police operation.

 

I have been continually shocked and angered by triaging guidelines that override shared decision-making processes, fail to acknowledge disproportionate rates of disability amongst already oppressed communities – such as rural and slum dwellers.

I affirm due to the changing times I have had from senior leaders, journalists, business persons who believe we should position life to normalcy.

It’s okay – COVID only really kills old and disabled people. If you’re young, you’re strong and healthy and won’t be at risk. The people who die from COVID don’t really have a quality of life anyway. We really do need to open up the economy for the rest of us. With resources so scarce and hospitals overwhelmed we need to priorities those of us who would actually survive.

 

 

For many persons with disabilities, hospitals are already traumatic places where we are spoken over, invalidated and dehumanized. Frequently they are places that deprive us of care, brutalize our bodies and result in our death. How do we begin to confront the even more explicit violence in our healthcare system COVID has triggered? When I think about the not-so-distant future, and try to imagine how our disability community is coping, I am filled with anguish thinking of the scars these triaging narratives will leave. I think of the trauma being resurfaced for hundreds of thousands of disabled people who have already suffered mistreatment at the hands of healthcare systems, and I think of those persons with disabilities who would’ve survived COVID, had things been different. I vow to remember them and keep working towards a world grounded in disability justice, where no one is disposable and we can receive the care that we need. As Mpofunamba1 articulates in one of the music track attitudinal barriers do exist where women with disabilties are even questioned which animal impregnated you. As f women with disabilities are not supposed to enjoy sex and give birth. Several studies have shown increase of gender-based violence against persons with disabilities.

Based on a biased understanding of appearance, functioning and behavior, many consider disability a misfortune that make life not worth living. To promote the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities, we must dismantle social ableism and embrace disability as a positive aspect of the human experience.

The world’s population is ageing. By 2050, people over the age of 60 are expected to account for 21 per cent of the global population. About half of them will live with a disability, making this the largest community of persons with disabilities—and one of the most stigmatized and neglected.

The deprivation of liberty on the basis of disability is a human rights violation on a massive global scale. As Mpofunamba1 I say it is not a “necessary evil” but a consequence of the failure of States to ensure their obligations towards persons with disabilities.

 

 

 

Parents, You Matter!” Guest author Alison

The views expressed here are for the author and do not represent any agency or organization.

 

I have been thinking hard about how important a parent is in the life of a special needs child…

It’s been a while since I wrote anything about autism. It’s been a crazy season – being home, working from home, and helping the kids with their schoolwork, etc. There is something I have learnt during this season, though. Parents are very important. Parents matter. Parents are special people.

Parents, let me encourage you today.

You know your child better than anyone else

Picture this. You take your child for a therapy session, and they are crying all through. The therapist tells you that things will get better with time, but at the next session, things are the same. You try a few more sessions, and nothing changes. Then you start to notice that your child cries every time you are leaving for the therapist’s clinic, or every time the therapist is just about to get to your house for a session. At this point, you, as the parent, make an executive decision and stop the sessions. Why? Because you know your child best.

I have been there. I have had to make this decision several times. Initially, I felt that I should have tried just one more time, then I realized that it was up to me to make sure that my child was happy and at peace. Nobody else could have done it for me.

You communicate best with your child

Maybe your child is not yet speaking. Maybe you are longing to hear that first word. Can you tell, however, when your child is sad? Can you tell when he or she wants to have a meal or go to the bathroom? Most likely you can, especially when nobody else can tell what your child is trying to communicate.

How does this help? Imagine you go for a therapy session, and the therapist asks your child to do something. Your little one does not respond, and the therapist is stuck. You then offer to try and talk to your child, explaining the instructions. He or she quickly responds by doing what the therapist has asked. Do you see what I mean? Parents always know how to communicate with their kids.

Parents, don’t beat yourself up just because your child is not speaking. There are other ways that kids can communicate like sign language, using technology, writing, using pictures, etc. Find the best way to communicate with your child.

You want to help your child out of love

Nobody wants your child to acquire skills as much as you do. Nobody understands how important it is for your child to be independent like you do. Your love for your child is what drives you to hire therapists, follow the home program, buy equipment, etc.

You may, however, find that the people you hire to help your child are doing it for the money. Others may be doing their job just because it is a job, not because they love working with your child. The bottom line is, your love for your child is what will drive you to keep going, to keep learning, to keep training, and to keep waiting patiently for a skill to be mastered.

I just want to encourage a parent here. The world will not always accept our children for who they are. It is up to us to show them how to love children who are abled differently, and to show them that being different is not a bad thing. Also, surround yourself with like-minded people, people who will support you on your parenting journey, people who will love and accept your child just as they are, and people who may even offer to watch your child while you catch a breather!

You are your child’s greatest resource

Parents, you are your child’s greatest resource. You provide them with love and care. You make sure their environment is conducive to learning. You purchase all that they need for therapy, school, etc. You feed them and clothe them. You teach them the things that only a parent can. You pay for therapy sessions and school. Parents, you rock!

In this season when accessing services is hard, I believe that parents can still do something with their children. What have seen your therapist do that you can do at home? Find out what activities your child can do to improve in areas in which he or she has challenges. For example, if your therapist has mentioned fine motor skills in the past, look for videos with fine motor activities you can do at home. Also, for those who are doing teletherapy, it’s important to remember that a good session works best when you are there to help with setup, resources, etc. You can also opt to get a therapist to come up with a good home program for your child which you will implement.

See how important you are, dear parents?

One last thing, though. You need to recharge from time to time otherwise you will burn out. Find a way to catch a break whenever possible. You need it.

 

How Do Disabled People Feel About Discussing Their Disabilities? Guest author A Pulrang

The views expressed here are for the author and do not represent any agency or organization.

 

 

 

For people with disabilities, talking about our disabilities is complicated.

Sometimes, when people ask their perennial questions, or just look at us in a certain way, we can almost hear them say it:

“Go on! Do that thing you do, where you remind me how my own little problems aren’t so bad. Do that ‘inspiration’ thing that makes me feel better about myself for admiring you.”

What does it mean when a wheelchair user speaks at a political convention? What does it mean when a blind person gives a motivational speech, when an amputee engages students or employees on “disability awareness?” What does it mean when any disabled person, in the ordinary course of their day, is asked to explain their disability, or tell their disability “story?” And what does it mean when the disabled person tells their story? And what does it mean when they say, “No, not today. Not here. Not for you. I’m not here to be your inspiration.”

From a non-disabled point of view, it must sometimes seem like we disabled people can’t make up our minds. That’s because the whole subject is fraught with conflicting choices, each with pluses, minuses, and even moral implications.

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Do we raise awareness, or mind our own business? Do we welcome questions from the curious, or draw clear boundaries to guard our privacy. If we want a better world for disabled people, what is our own obligation to further that goal? Will we share our most profound experiences and thoughts about disability, and for what purpose — or whose?

Some of us are quite anxious to tell our stories to anyone who will listen. It can make us feel less alone with our burdens and traumas. Some of us draw strength and purpose from telling our stories of triumph over adversity, dispelling myths about disability, or advocating for better disability policies and political power for disabled people. Despite popular rhetoric about “not letting disability define us,” a great many of disabled people do organize much of our lives around our disability experiences and identity, and we do it intentionally, joyfully.

PROMOTED

At the same time, disabled people have mixed feelings about sharing our experiences with others. We all have different ideas about the pros and cons of sharing our stories, raising awareness, and “educating” non-disabled people about disability. And what we think about it can change from day to day, from person to person, and situation to situation.

To understand how disabled people struggle with these questions of sharing, educating, advocating, you need to explore some of the positives and negatives we juggle every day.

Positives

First, some disabled people find sharing their disability stories therapeutic. Many who were disabled later in life need to tell how they became disabled. And talking about our disabilities and everyday struggles with ableism can help all of us clarify how we feel about our disabilities.

While few of us like to admit it, many of us do in fact crave sympathy or at least empathy. Getting a positive, supportive response to our disability stories can be validating. It can, at least in the short term, compensate for some of the negativity and unvarnished prejudice we encounter regularly. And genuine empathy can actually make our lives easier by reducing misunderstandings and judgment.

There is also the practical benefit, or necessity, of sharing something about our disabilities in order to get help and accommodations that we need to survive, and that can help level the playing field for our ambitions. Having to reveal private information in order to obtain equal opportunity is a constant burr in our sides. But it is the most consistently beneficial payoff for this awkward exchange.

Finally, some of us choose to embrace being spokespeople of sorts for the disability community, and the cause of disability rights and justice. Some disabled people commit themselves to advocacy, motivational speaking, writing, and educating the public … all of which call for some degree or another of personal sharing. These commitments can give purpose to a disabled person’s life, if purpose is missing or uncertain. It can give meaning to a person’s disability, if meaning is important to them. For some of us, it’s also a living, and a potentially useful one.

The benefits available to disabled people for sharing our stories, experiences, and feelings are fairly familiar. It’s the negatives people tend to forget, but that are constantly on disabled people’s minds, precisely because they are so common and cut so deep so often.

Negatives

For a start, constantly retelling our disability stories can be a seductive trap. We tell it again and again, sometimes on request, or else in search of some resolution that never comes. We stagnate or worse, spiral further into depression and trauma. Also, other people’s curiosity about disability and disabled people’s stories tends to have a very short shelf-life. While they start out craving answers and compelling narratives, most people quickly get sick of them, especially if they fail to fascinate or uplift. Regardless, fixation on our own personal stories also makes it less likely that we will discover the broader disability community and disability issues, and that is a real loss.

Another problem is that many of us quickly come to realize how easily the visibility we craved for so long, and we finally seem to be getting, can be misused, no matter how carefully we craft our messages. As any disabled person who has addressed a political audience can attest, you never know just how much of your specific message gets through, and how much is drowned in a sea of sentimental responses to our very presence. Do audiences come away with a new understanding of health care, or home care, or accessibility? Or do they leave uplifted or amazed at how articulate the disabled speaker was, and how brave?

The most important thing to remember, but so many people miss, is that sharing our stories and educating people about disability always costs us something. The novelty of attention and praise eventually wears off, and you find yourself giving and giving, with little in return. Even if you are being paid … and far too many disabled public figures aren’t paid for what they give … sharing yourself, your passion, and your hopes with strangers takes a toll. And even the best audiences have little ability to give back.

Yet, disabled people are often expected to share our stories and enlighten others on disability matters … as if it’s our unique duty and special mission in life as people with disabilities. A calling is a personal choice. A duty is more of an imposition. A lot of people don’t understand the difference. On the personal level, friendly curiosity about our disabilities can quickly turn to sour resentment when we don’t immediately satisfy it. And demanding to be “educated” is often used as a “put up or shut up” answer to being called out for accessibility failures or other kinds of ableism. If we don’t agree to open ourselves up at all times and give free education, then ongoing ableism is implied to be our fault.

So, when is it okay, and when is it inappropriate to ask disabled people for their stories, or for help on disability issues?

Situations

Obviously, it depends partly on what kind of relationship you have with the disabled person. It’s rarely if ever appropriate to ask a disabled person you don’t know to tell their story, or explain intricacies of the disability experience to you. Asking a coworker or casual acquaintance may be alright, if you do it with care and listen for signs of receptiveness or reticence. You can deepen your relationship with family or close friends with disabilities, by inviting them to share deeper experiences and feelings. But this kind of closeness should never be mistaken for open-ended permission. Having a family or professional connection to disability isn’t a special permit to pry. Neither is having a disability yourself. A disabled person may trust you more if you’re disabled too,, but your disability status doesn’t guarantee access.

It also depends on the time and setting. Certain subjects and avenues of conversation are appropriate in some places and occasions, out of place in others, and totally bizarre or even creepy in still others. Think of how doctors and lawyers feel when people at cocktail parties ask them for medical or legal advice. It’s often like that for disabled people. We feel like everyone’s public encyclopedia of all things disability. No place is taboo, no subject off limits. At any moment, we can be prayed over in the frozen foods aisle, asked in a coffee shop how we have sex, or grilled in the lunchroom on which disability terminology we use.

If you want to engage with disabled people, and learn about disability issues and culture, that’s great! Please do both. But remember that each disabled person is an individual, and we each make our own decisions, using our own criteria, for when and how we want to share, explain, and educate others, from perfect strangers to those closest to us.

In the end, sorting the good from the bad, the appropriate from the burdensome, isn’t that complicated after all. It’s a bit like intimacy and consent. Talking about disability with disabled people can be enormously rewarding for both parties, but only when the disabled person is a willing participant. While some of us consciously choose to be as open and forthcoming as possible, none of us feels that way all of the time.

Above all, no disabled person should ever feel obligated to share, or shamed for not sharing. this is also my school of philosophy . as a Public policy diversity and inclusion expert I celebrate diversity in full.

Dream of Corona from a Disability lense Author Mugambi Paul

With the recent occurrence and high prevalence rate of Covid 2019 in Kenya having recorded over 32 thousand cases in August 22nd.

I wish to retaliate what front line soldiers and policy makers need to put in place to ensure those individuals with disabilities and those who are acquiring a disability in this period are well taken care of and granted the best of serf=vices.

 

The Kenyan health workers should

  • Know about people’s rights
  • Protect people’s rights

People should get the health care they need during coronavirus.

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is a law that protects the rights of people with disability around the world.

The Convention is called the CRPD for short.

The CRPD says discrimination is never ok. CRPD says people with disability

  • Have the same rights as other people
  • Must be respected

The CRPD says people with disability have the right to

  • Be included in their community
  • Make their own decisions and

During a pandemic some rights are very important.

  • The right to life
  • Good health and health care
  • Information like Easy Read.
  • People with disabilities deserve to get treatment and medication just like other persons.

People with disability have the right to make choices about their health.

This includes having support to make choices. Supports include

  • Aids like a cane or wheelchair
  • Support workers or family

Communication:

People disability have the right to communicate how they choose.

  • Kenyan sign language
  • Braille
  • Easy Read

Plain language.

Last to be served last one to eat: Author Mugambi paul

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”

Globally, Evidence is emerging that persons with disabilities are being disproportionately affected by the Coronavirus pandemic and emergency policy measures being undertaken are not enough.

This is to say the marginalization that existed before covid is still being multiplied and increased due to lack of inclusive disability response starting from the world health organization and the governments.

 

The COVID-19 crisis is taking a grim toll on human lives across the globe. Although the complete impact is yet to be fully comprehended. The coronavirus pandemic has changed almost every aspect of normal life, from grocery shopping to work, from exercising to socialising. While the changes, brought on by fear of infection and the state-mandated quarantine –– which has been in place in Kenya since March 20 –– are difficult and inconvenient for everyone, for those living with disabilities across Kenya, the virus crisis has posed a unique threat to their ability to access basic healthcare, education and to their own individual autonomy. 

 the risk the pandemic

is exposing for gains made towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is becoming evident. What this global emergency is also revealing, is that

these 17 goals are, in fact, our best option to recover better and to overcome similar crises in the future.  

Policy statements need to manifest in concrete action.

In other words, inclusion and empowerment of persons with disabilities is essential to ensuring that persons with disabilities are not left behind.

 

 

 As governments rush to respond to the virus, it is more critical than ever to guarantee that measures taken are fully inclusive.

 

 

of persons with disabilities and prevent human rights violations from taking place. More importantly several studies from the UN body, research institutions, disability sector, individual testimonies and government have shown no disability desegregated data has been recorded up to date. Disability is prevalent throughout Kenyan society, though that prevalence isn’t always represented in policy-making. No less than 15. 10 percent of the population of Kenya lives with a permanent difficulty or limitation, according to organization of persons with disabilities data.

 Additionally, disability is present in 2.2 percent of Kenyan households, according to official data of KBs 2019 census. 

 

 

As a public policy scholar am yet to understand why governments are able to give geographical location, gender age and not disability desegregated data !

Is this not a form of exclusion?

At least 70,000 Americans with disabilities have died in the last 120 days without being on the radar. Those in nursing homes are referred to as ‘elderly,’

with ‘underlying conditions,’ or ‘vulnerable.’ These are euphemisms that avoid using the word “disability”. This diminishes and ignores civil rights protections

for millions.

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Policy makers need to realize that when persons with disabilities are not being counted, they are being locked out of interventions.

The distribution of the cake needs to be served in an inclusive manner.

 

For many countries in Africa they have formed emergency response committees with uyt representation of persons with disabilities.

Should disability persons organization publish experts with disabilties since governments have failed to ensure representation?

Persons with disabilities in low income countries face substantial challenges in terms of achieving self-representation,[1] inclusive employment[2] and integrated education.[3] The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)[4] outlines a framework for the inclusion and self-advocacy of persons with disabilities, while the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) commit to ensure that global development processes are disability inclusive.

 

 

 

Moreover, several general protocols have been made but without any reference on how interventions will be carried out for persons with disabilities.

Additionally, after 4 months of COVID  2019 several countries have started to some sort of disability protocols, of which they contain minor concerns of persons with impairments.

 

Its only south Africa who have made major attempt of having disability inclusive response protocols and interventions.

Obviously, this is a step in the right direction but more needs to be done to ensure no one is left behind.

Likewise, in other countries like in Kenya having sign language interpretor on the TV screen during the Corona state address seem to be an already concluded assumption that they have addressed the communication and inaccessible information gaps.

Does this mean that all persons with disabilities have accessed the information?

the Kenyan social protection policies seem to be driven ‘smoothing

out’ variations in incomes over the lifecycle, I argue  that ‘the dominant effect

of social spending in the Kenya is to redistribute income across people’s own life. For example the recently launched “Kazi kwa mtaa programme”

aids citizens to pay taxes of what they have.

 

The policy brief offers 4 recommendations on how governments can best mitigate the economic fallout of the COVID-19 crisis and protect informal workers:

list of 4 items

  • Continuing emergency income support for workers and businesses operating in the informal economy 
  • Reforming social-assistance schemes to extend beyond the poor—both horizontally and vertically—to ensure that the “missing middle” will have access to

them

  • Ensuring that social-assistance measures are a part of a larger relief package and include loan repayments, rent and utilities payments, and tax breaks

on essential goods

  • Safeguarding women’s access to these benefits

list end

On the other hand, In the book Good Times, Bad Times challenges popular misconceptions about the welfare state

. The book deconstructs the view that ‘welfare’ is exclusively

about out-of-work benefits and that those who are in receipt of such benefits are

somehow ‘other’ to the rest of ‘working Britain’ (a term favored by our current

political leaders). Hills challenges these misconceptions with detailed evidence

demonstrating that in fact we all benefit from the welfare state over the life-course,

getting back what we put into the system. The welfare system in Kenya and most African countries

covers universal entitlements such as education, health care, pension provision, and

youth protection except for the very wealthy), and as such it is something that all of us

make use of at varying points in our lives: when we have children; when we become

unwell; when we need healthcare; and when we grow old.

Hills explains that whilst the welfare system is redistributive (poorer households

do get more out of the system and richer households put more in), the system is

also redistributive for individuals over the span of their own lives – so effectively

he argues that we are all paying for own services and benefits in a kind of ‘savings

bank’ (67). This is the case for all families, with even the poorest 10th of the population

paying in half of what they take out. The rich contribute more because of

the principles that the system was founded on: that benefits and services should go

to people according to their need (as opposed to whether they can pay for it); and

that the taxes we pay should be in proportion to our incomes.

 

In the COVID-19 pandemic, persons with disabilities may face heightened risks, such as increased exposure rates, due to numerous barriers in the humanitarian response. For example, barriers in accessing life-saving information, protective measures and other essential humanitarian services on an equal basis with others. Gaps in the preparedness and response plans increase these risks even further. 

As we hurtle towards the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals deadline, governments are accelerating investments in both social protection and disability and gender equality. This presents

an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of how social protection can not only reduce poverty, but also contribute to disability mainstreaming. Disability mainstreaming is

vital to achieve sustainable poverty reduction through social protection. In turn, poverty reduction, for instance, through greater income equality and

security provided through well-designed social protection promotes disability inclusion.  

Social protection, particularly in the form of cash benefits, has already proven its ability to 

address multi-dimensional and intergenerational poverty for persons with disabilities of particular are men, boys, women and girls with disabilities

 in different contexts, including increasing women’s savings and investments in productive assets or improving girls’ school enrolment and attendance. Yet, this

potential can also be belied if programmes are poorly designed or executed, resulting in further entrenching prevailing gender inequalities. More needs

to be done to understand how and why programme design and implementation can either strengthen or worsen impacts for women and girls.  

  1. All means all! we cannot have proper digital inclusion if we leave people behind;
  2. We need stronger connections between schools, families and students because connections lead to commitment

list end

 

       

What lessons can African nations learn?

We need to activate disability emergency mode when the glbe is doingit not just to react after the race has already kicked off.

We may have lost many persons with disabilties either through hunger, loneliness, lack of health services, covid itself and other preexisting conditions.

Organizations of persons with disabilities need to ensure duty bearers accountable to them and if need be seeking legal address. For instance. 

Over 1,000 web accessibility lawsuits have been filed in 2018.

Companies like Nike and Amazon are being sued for failing to make their content accessible to deaf, hard of hearing, blind, and low vision users.

       

Conclusion:               

Covid19 has created new societal challenges and exacerbated existing ones however plethis is also an opportunity to rebuild our society in a more equitable

Corona 2019 why did you’ve it imprison the blind? Author Mugambi paul

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”

 

 

 

As a blind person for the past 23 years, I thought I had seen it all! Oh boy, was I ever wrong! After many years of practice at being blind, I have found something that is sending me for a loop.

COVID-19 has done it to me!

My world now is cold, untouchable, lonely at times–which is something hard to handle. I am not so sure I could survive the new world we are all experiencing if I did not believe that my “Heavenly Father” would not be here to catch me when I fall.

Going for a walk, if anyone is passing me by, I’m always wondering if they will possibly get me sick. Going to a market or moll and trying to get assistance, while everyone wants to run away from you. No getting together with friends because no one wants to come and visit, scared we pass the virus to one another. Walking onto a bus and being scared that the person who previously occupied the seat you are now at had the virus.

Or, a simple walk in a park and getting lost because all the roads have no traffic to give me a sense of direction. Yes, to me, this was probably one of the hardest things to handle. My world is open when I have sounds of traffic or sound barriers to help me to be able to be independent daily.

My rural places like playing fields and parks is a place I have known for the past 23 years and I am very used to going there. Now this park and field of play is very different for someone who has no sight. No children in the playground, nobody bringing the dogs to the park, no one bringing me coffee and conversation, and no cars to give me direction as to where the roads are.

The world I knew had familiar sounds to help give me direction, and this I knew was a world that was easier to deal with in my daily life. I also use a white cane and now people are scared. Put jump very first since thy know viruses can spend time on metallic objects. How does a blind person keep social distance from a sighted guide?

 

 

I also have had others say that many in the markets get upset when I use the white cane.

Now I can honestly say that the world as a blind person is hard to cope with! If I did not live in a house with a yard and with a great garden to take care of and give me joy, my world would have been lonely and hard to handle for the foreseeable future.

Meetings online may give me many hours of involvement with my community, but the time spent on electronics is starting to drive me crazy.

I love to attend meetings in person and the opportunity they provide to get to know others and how they are engaged in our community. Now this opportunity is also lost, and I find that the computer does not bring the same spirit into my daily routines.

So, for all of these reasons, “blindness” has imprisoned me again. But this time it feels like I have moved from a minimum-security prison to a maximum-security one.

Disabilities that Complicate Substance Abuse Treatment and How to Overcome Them Guest author Patrick Bailey

The views expressed here are for the author and do not represent any agency or organization.

 

The last thing a person recovering from alcohol addiction needs is yet another obstacle to getting back to the life they know and love. Well-managed inpatient drug and alcohol treatment centers should ensure a physical disability does not impede full recovery.

Disabilities and Substance Abuse

People who suffer from physical disabilities have a higher risk of alcohol and drug abuse. The National Rehabilitation Information Center (NARIC) shows that about half of Americans who suffer from a disability are also likely to suffer from substance abuse (co-occurring disorders or dual diagnosis). That’s compared to 10% of the general public.

Disabled World reports that those with mobility issues—disabilities like amputated limbs, spinal cord injuries, orthopedic disability, arthritis, deafness, vision impairment, or multiple sclerosis—are two to four times more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol.

Yet an anonymous survey reveals that of those suffering from a spinal cord injury or traumatic brain injury (TBI) and also seeking addiction treatment, about half are refused admission to inpatient drug and alcohol treatment centers.

A report from the American Association on Health and Disability (AAHD) shows that physical accessibility negatively impacts the success of treatment for those with disabilities every day.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in five American adults has a disability. Most worrisome for those in an inpatient facility are mobility and visual or auditory challenges that prevent them from taking full advantage of the treatment offered them.

Alcohol and drug abuse can complicate treatment for the physically disabled by interfering with therapy, rehabilitation, counseling sessions, and medications.

Overcoming Barriers to Treatment

For this reason, a physically accessible treatment center is essential to those who have both physical limitations and addiction challenges.

Group therapy and support groups can dispel social isolation and offer a healing environment for both those who suffer from addiction and their families. However, an additional layer of support is required for those with an additional disability.

Inpatient drug and alcohol treatment centers can offset this by removing or altering potential barriers to their disabled clients.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that all private accommodations and commercial facilities that are not residential facilities remove barriers to communication and access that would negatively affect individuals who are disabled.

For this reason and others, a viable treatment facility must accommodate those who are disabled, ensuring they have complete access to the facility.

Making Rehab Accessible

Three factors that can affect a person’s ability to function:

  • A person’s mental, emotional, and/or physical state doesn’t function properly. This can include hearing or memory loss.
  • Activity limitations. Inability to carry out normal tasks.
  • Participation restrictions. A person who cannot participate fully, or not at all, in daily life activities because of their limits. This impacts the way the individual engages in work, social, recreational, or health-related activities that are critical for their health and well-being.

Some of the modifications needed for the disabled include:

  • Ramps and elevators that offer mobility-specific features.
  • Wider doors and hallways for those in wheelchairs or other mobility devices.
  • Power-assisted doors.
  • Even, slip-proof floors.
  • Prominently displayed braille and other sensory navigational features.
  • TTY options on phones for the hearing impaired.

Other Physical Disabilities

Physical disabilities are not confined to one’s ability to walk without aid. They may result from a birth defect, an accident, a disease, or age. Anything that prevents or diminishes a person’s ability to engage in social activities is a disability

Physical disability includes chronic health conditions that prevent a person from participating fully in their day-to-day life. This includes a variety of autoimmune diseases. Some diseases can become a secondary disability that must be considered in one’s drug or alcohol rehab.

Examples include:

  • Asthma
  • Allergies (environmental and food)
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Diabetes
  • Migraine headaches
  • Cerebral palsy (CP)
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Epilepsy
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Spina bifida
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Loss of a limb
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Cancer
  • Lupus
  • Sickle cell anemia

Learning Disabilities

The best inpatient drug and alcohol treatment centers also make accommodations for clients with learning, sensory, and mental disorders.

A learning disability alters the way a person can listen, speak, read, spell, and/or think. Such a disability impedes a person’s ability to process, recall, and/or express information.

Clients with memory problems often have trouble communicating and have a hard time performing school or job-related tasks.

Chronic health conditions such as physical disabilities are risk factors on their own. Add to that a substance abuse problem and removing as many barriers as possible is essential.

How to stop “Discrimination” in the Corona era! a call by Public policy scholars.

Addressing discrimination and inequality in the global response to COVID-19

In the short time since the start of this new decade, life has changed dramatically across the world. COVID-19 has now spread to more than 185 countries. The number of recorded cases has surpassed 3.5 million. Families and friends across the globe are mourning the loss of more than 240,000 people. With the stated intention of controlling the spread of the virus and protecting lives, States are implementing unprecedented restrictions on movement both within and between countries (“lockdowns”), with significant and wide-ranging impacts on societies and economies.  

As these measures have taken effect, it has become clear that, while the virus is indiscriminate, the impacts of state responses are not. In late April, launching a new report, United Nations Secretary General António Guterres stated that the pandemic is a public health emergency “that is fast becoming a human rights crisis”. As that UN report highlights, there is clear and growing evidence that state responses in delivery of healthcare, in the implementation of lockdown measures and in policies designed to mitigate economic impacts are having disproportionate and discriminatory impacts. These effects are being experienced by all groups exposed to discrimination, including, but not limited to, older persons, children, persons with disabilities, women, ethnic and religious minorities and indigenous peoples, persons, persons living with HIV and AIDS, and migrants, refugees and stateless persons. They are impacting upon the enjoyment of rights ranging from freedom of movement to access to education and from access to information to an adequate standard of living, together, of course, with the rights to life and to health. 

These discriminatory impacts are occurring despite the fact that almost every State in the world has accepted international legal obligations to ensure the equal enjoyment of human rights, without discrimination. At a bare minimum, these obligations require that the State – whether through law, policy or practice – does not discriminate in its actions. They also create a duty to provide effective protection from all forms of discrimination by private actors and to make reasonable accommodation when required. These obligations apply to all: citizen and non-citizen, irrespective of their identity, status or beliefs. They are “immediate and cross-cutting”. They apply in respect of all civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. Crucially, while international law recognises that in states of emergency, States can limit the enjoyment of certain human rights, their obligations to ensure nondiscrimination remain – emergency measures must not discriminate either in their purpose or their effects.

As this unprecedented global crisis unfolds, it is clear that States are failing to meet their nondiscrimination obligations. Their responses – largely driven by a stated intention to protect lives – are having a wide range of discriminatory impacts. While many of these effects may be unintended, the lack of intent does not limit States’ obligations. Moreover, with new evidence emerging each week, it is clear that we cannot yet foresee the full range of discriminatory impacts which this crisis will engender. 

State obligations to assess and address equality impacts

We call on all States to incorporate equality impact assessment as an integral element of their ongoing public health, economic and social policy responses to the crisis. It is only through assessing the equality impacts of their policy responses that States can ensure that their actions comply with their binding non-discrimination obligations under international law. Equality impact assessment is the only way that States can anticipate and eliminate the discriminatory effects of their policy responses, including those which are unintended or unforeseen.

Equality impact assessments must be aimed at identifying and eliminating the actual or potential discriminatory effects of State policies. They should also ensure that policies and programmes respond to and accommodate the different needs of diverse groups with due consideration to intersectionality and that they do not create or exacerbate inequality. 

In order to ensure that States comply with their international legal obligations, equality impact assessments should be pre-emptive, coming before new policy measures are adopted and before any changes are made to policies which are already in force. Where measures have already been adopted, equality impact assessment should be undertaken as an urgent priority. Where discriminatory impacts are identified, measures to eliminate any discrimination or inequality of impact should be taken with immediate effect. States must ensure that they involve and consult all groups at risk of discrimination and experiencing inequality in conducting equality impact assessment. States must ensure that equality impact assessment is an essential element of their monitoring and review of policy responses to the pandemic and of their on the ground effects. Both initial assessments and ongoing monitoring must be informed by the collection of data on the experiences and outcomes of groups exposed to discrimination

All policy responses to the crisis must be subject to assessment, including those relating to the management of healthcare and other resources, the restriction of civil liberties, closure of businesses and educational establishments, adaptation of support services, economic and social protection programmes, immigration and border control and the use of new information technologies. The actual or potential equality impacts of actions by both state and private actors must be assessed.  

A renewed commitment to the creation of an equal world

Furthermore, we call on all States to emerge from the current crisis with a renewed commitment to the elimination of all forms of discrimination and the creation of a world in which all are “free and equal in dignity and rights”. The wide range of unintended discriminatory consequences of state responses to the crisis – ranging from the increased exposure to the virus amongst ethnic minority populations to the rise in domestic violence – only serve to underline the deep inequalities within our societies and the failure to address the systemic discrimination which feeds them. 

This crisis has shone a harsh and unforgiving light on these existing inequalities. We must emerge from it ready to forge a world in which all can participate equally. Arundhati Roy has described this pandemic as a portal, “a gateway between one world and the next”. We call on States to ensure that we walk through this portal leaving no one behind, and with a shared determination to create an equal world.

Hope beyond COVID-19 Author Mugambi Paul

Africans with disabilities are largely left out of the African governments. coronavirus response despite being uniquely affected by the disease, as discussed by the international disability alliance, several disability experts and Views expressed in different social media platforms.

 

Palpably, The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted many aspects of our daily lives, but its impacts are especially acute for disabled persons, who may

struggle with challenges like finding reliable and safe in-home care or physically adapting to enhanced hand-washing guidance.

But the coronavirus outbreak has also created opportunities for more equitable inclusion after the pandemic ends.

How might the pandemic disturb those who have disabilities?

For disabled persons, all the general challenges that come with the pandemic certainly apply, but there are additional barriers. The first is communication—getting

information can be more difficult for people with vision, hearing, and even cognitive disabilities, as popular news sources may not be accessible, especially

when information is changing quickly. I’m Blind and can attest to that. Keeping all of us informed is key to the COVID-19 public health response,

but information is not always accessible to the disability community, for instance data visual charts are not understood.

The second barrier involves adopting recommended public health strategies, such as social distancing and washing hands. For example, frequent hand-washing

is not always feasible for people with certain types of physical disabilities. As a public scholar I know the value of these strategies, but public health

policies often do not consider people with disabilities, leaving a gap in guidance. Those who have personal aides like sighted guides for Deaf blind and Blind individuals, and caregivers also need to be considered,

as they cannot participate in social distancing in the same way that others are.

The third, equitable access to health care, is a long-standing barrier worsened by COVID-19. This ranges from getting a coronavirus test to being seen

in an emergency room. For instance, drive-up testing may be impossible if you rely on state mobility services. There are also existing barriers in health

care settings that are exacerbated as the industry aims to meet the surge of COVID-19 cases. For example, the use of personal protective equipment, including

masks, can make communication more difficult for patients with hearing loss.

Additionally, the allocation of medical resources is a concern. There’s fear that medical resource allocation, including ventilators, may be discriminatory

against patients with disabilities. In Europe and united states of America some organization of persons with disabilities and human rights bodies have filed complains about these rationing policies. This issue echoes an underlying misconception

that people with disabilities can’t have a high quality of life and therefore the lives of disabled people may not be prioritized.

What lessons can African government learn from inclusion in Corona response for disabled persons?

in some countries, there has been a shift toward telehealth for nonurgent medical visits. That has provided challenges but also future

opportunities for the disability sector. We must ensure that telehealth visits are accessible to patients with vision or hearing loss or other disabilities

in order to maintain equity in health care delivery. If accessibility is prioritized as we make this change, a transition to telehealth could open the

door to a more accessible health care system.

Several studies have underpinned, THE ISSUES OF PRE-PANDEMIC CARE DELIVERY ONLY BECOME MORE URGENT IN A TIME OF CRISIS BECAUSE PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES HAVE OFTEN NOT BEEN CONSIDERED IN

A DISASTER OR PANDEMIC PLANNING.

While there’s a lot of pressure and certainly a high demand to meet the COVID-19 surge, it is still crucial to make sure that the organizations of persons with disabilities and disability experts

is being considered. It’s truly a remarkable and challenging moment for African health system, but the needs of the disability community can’t fall through

the cracks. The issues of pre-pandemic care delivery only become more urgent in a time of crisis because people with disabilities have often not been considered

in a disaster or pandemic planning. We need to learn from this crisis and ensure disability is part of future pandemic planning.

For those in the disability community who require in-home care or essential services when away from home, what steps can be taken to minimize the risk

of spreading the coronavirus while still receiving necessary care and assistance?

People who use in-home support care need to make sure that they have contingency plans for their care needs in case a caregiver becomes ill. Caregivers and community

organizations should also consider changing their staffing to the best of their ability in order to minimize spread. For instance, instead of three rotating

caregivers being assigned to an individual, assign one for a longer period of time. For people with a primary caregiver in the home, more flexibility in

paid time off or sick leave can minimize exposure while also meeting the care needs of the individual. What’s really important is to engage the individual

and the disability community at the policy level.

Furthermore, MANY disabled persons ARE AT HIGH RISK OF COVID-19, BUT THEIR PERSPECTIVE IS NOT BEING INCLUDED IN THE EFFORTS TO ADDRESS INEQUITIES IN THE RESPONSE.

For instance, most Kenyan policy directives are not disability inclusive.

 

In a moment when many providers have had to alter their operations due to the pandemic, what are ways to advocate for essential services and treatment

for the disability community?

The best approach is to ensure that whenever we’re talking about inequity or differences in the COVID-19 response, disability is part of the discussion.

Many people with disabilities are at high risk of COVID-19, but their perspective is not being included in the efforts to address inequities in the response.

This includes understanding the unique challenges of this community during this crisis.

We also need disability data. There is currently no systematic reporting of COVID-19 testing, infection, mortality, or outcomes by disability status.

This is evident by the daily media updates from different countries.

For example, in east Africa important differences in this data by age, geographic location, underlying health condition, estate location and race have emerged. These data have been

critical for allocating resources and directing policies, as well as highlighting underlying disparities and elevating discussions around these health

gaps. But for people with disabilities, an often-ignored health disparity population, we don’t even get counted. And this is not just the case for COVID-19.

Disability data is infrequently collected in this type of public health and medical surveillance, which limits opportunities to address disability inequities.

As a public policy scholar and expert on diversity and inclusion I affirm and recommend the data being reported should be 15 % or more are persons with disabilities “WHO 2011”

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, what impact and legacy do you think it will have for those living with disabilities?

I’m an optimistic person, and though it can be hard to think positively right now, there is an opportunity to change how we include people with disabilities

in this moment. COVID-19 has elevated that conversation, and the legacy should be a continued focus on disability disparities and constant efforts to address

disability inequities.

As we all make substantial changes in our daily lives, such as working from home and adjusting how we connect to others, look to people with disabilities

for guidance, as we have always used alternative strategies. We are the vanguards of resilience. My hope is that COVID-19 will bring more understanding,

inclusion, and opportunity to the African disability community.

 

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”

 

Mental health and wellbeing during the Coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak Author Paul Mugambi

 

The outbreak of the coronavirus COVID-19 has impacted people in varying ways on global scale. It is understandable that during times like this,

people may be feeling afraid, worried, anxious and overwhelmed by the constantly changing alerts and media coverage regarding the spread of the virus.

Disabled persons have lived experience on this and with the additional Corona concerns its even worse.

While it is important to stay informed, the following are some mental health and wellbeing tips and strategies to continue looking after ourselves and

each other during these difficult times.

The tips are based on  experiences and great lessons as a  global citizen. 

Manage your exposure to media coverage as this can increase feelings of fear and anxiety. Be mindful of sources of information and ensure you are accessing

good quality and accurate information. Follow a “calm yet cautious” approach – do you best to remain calm and be mindful not to contribute to the widespread panic that can hinder efforts to

positively manage the outbreak. Ensure you are following directives issued by the government and WHO  medical advice and observe good hygiene habits.

 

Show compassion and kindness to one another – these times of fear, isolation (both physical and social) and uncertainty are when it is most important that

we strengthen our sense of community by connecting with and supporting each other. Remind ourselves that we can manage this much better together in solidarity,

and that COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate – it can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, disability, nationality, or ethnicity.

 

Actively manage your wellbeing by maintaining routines where possible, connect with family and friends (even if not in person), staying physically active,

eating nutritious foods and seeking additional support by contacting government or further professional support as required.  

 

Strategies to cope with social distancing, self-isolation or quarantine

 

Going into a period of social distancing, self-isolation or quarantine may feel daunting or overwhelming, and can contribute to feelings of helplessness

and fear. In addition to the above, I  encourage the following.

 

list of 7 items

  • Perspective – try to see this time as unique and different, not necessarily bad, even if it something you didn’t necessarily choose
  • Connection – think of creative ways to stay connected with others, including social media, email and phone
  • Be generous to others – giving to others in times of need not only helps the recipient, it enhances your wellbeing too. Is there a way to help others?

around you?

Thanks to those who have supported in kind the cases I presented to them.

  • Stay connected with your values. Don’t let fear or anxiety drive your interactions with others. I am also in this together!
  • Daily routine – create a routine that prioritises things you enjoy and even things you have been meaning to do but haven’t had enough time. Read that

book, watch that show, take up that new hobby.

  • Try to see this as a new and unusual period that might even have some benefits.
  • Limit your exposure to news and media. Perhaps choose specific times of day when you will get updates, and ensure they are from reputable and reliable

sources.

In my case I don’t own a TV.

Staying connected through the COVID-19 crisis

 

Research after the sierra Leone Ebola shows evidence of the significance of connection through epidemics.  It found that residents

in Sierra Leone experienced increased social connectedness, which offset the negative mental health impacts of the pandemic.

 

As connection is so important during this time, here are some tips on staying connected to others during this time. Remember – we are all in this together.

 

list of 2 items

  •  If there is someone you think may struggle through social isolation, it is important to reach out to them and let them know you care:

list of 4 items nesting level 1

◦ Call them to check on their welfare

◦ Send an email

◦ Leave a note under their door

◦ Don’t underestimate the power you have to offer hope to another person.

I have evidently seen work miracle around my self-Isolation tunnel.

list end nesting level 1

  • I encourage people to get creative with how they interact, here are some ways to stay connected if self-isolating:

I have greatly borrowed from the recent interaction in the social media.

list of 4 items nesting level 1

◦ Set up a gratitude tree – where every member posts a message or sends a text to other members to share something, they are grateful for.

◦ Find a buddy, or group of, to set daily challenges with. These could include a healthy habit, a mindful practice, a creative pursuit. Be sure to encourage

and check in daily to stay motivated.

 

◦ Set dates and times to watch the same TV shows/movies with someone and message each other your thoughts along the way… kind of like Goggle Box but you’re

not sharing the couch!

Ask random questions in the social media to make guys think!

◦ If your local community has one, join its social media group! This will keep you up to date with what’s going on directly around you. It may also include

ways you can perhaps reach out and connect with someone less fortunate than you and ways to assist them.

list end nesting level 1

list end

 

Helping children cope through COVID-19

 

This is an uncertain time for everyone, and children may be impacted by fear and anxiety. Here are some tips on how to ensure your children are supported;

 

list of 4 items

  • Give your children extra attention and reassurance. Where possible, minimise their exposure to media and social media that may heighten anxiety
  • Acknowledge your own feelings about the situation and let children know it’s okay to share their own feelings
  • Include your children in plans and activities around the house
  • If you don’t see an improvement in 4 weeks, or if you’re concerned, seek professional help (earlier if needed)

list end

 

Reputable sources of information

 

  • World Health Organisation –

http://www.who.int

Where to go for support?

 

 

It is extremely important to seek out help if you feel you need it. I want to remind everyone that counselling services are readily available.

 

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.

2018  Chief minister award winner

“making inclusion happen”

 

are disabled Kenyans In contradiction of the war Corona 2019? “what should Kenyan public health practitioner’s consider? Guest author Farida Asindua, _____

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic continues to cause a trail of destruction globally. In the full wake of the pandemic in Kenya, a disproportionate effect is most likely to be among the vulnerable groups, such as the 918,270 people living with disabilities (PLWD) in the country. According to Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (2019) Census report, women with disability in the country are 523,883 while 394,330 are men. Majority are living in the rural areas, with only 179,492 living in urban areas – mainly in dense, poor and unserviced informal settlements – rendering them more vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic.

1.      Unique PLWD needs in the COVID-19 era

PLWD are more vulnerable due to the nature of their disabilities.  Lack of mobility is the leading disability in the country, followed by those visually impaired and cognition. Others are mental, intellectual, or sensory disabilities. COVID-19 pandemic puts all these categories of PLWD at risk of increased morbidity and mortality. In the current crisis, they are less likely to access health services, and more likely to experience greater health needs, worse outcomes, and discriminatory laws and stigma than other demographic groups in the country. With the limited Government capacity to respond to COVID-19, historical evidence points to the likelihood of PLWD being the least likely to be targeted with the interventions.

The country must therefore ensure that the unique needs of PLWD are considered in the ongoing COVID-19 containment and response planning. Interventions against the pandemic should be available and accessible to the PLWD in high quality and acceptable manner.

Public health messaging ought to also target PLWD and other vulnerable groups and should be disseminated in simple language across all the accessible formats. Strategies for vital inperson communication should be safe and accessible for persons with disability – in braille, sign language and large print. Although it is commendable that daily ministerial and periodic presidential addresses use sign language interpreters, wearing of transparent masks by communicators and health-care providers is encouraged to allow lip reading.

Physical distancing or self-isolation mechanisms – including the mandatory quarantine, the night curfew and movement cessation into and out of Nairobi and parts of the coastal strip – are already disrupting service provision for PLWD in those areas, who often rely on assistance for delivery of food, medication, and personal care. It is feared that escalation of these measures into full national lockdown would adversely affect majority of PLWD who reside in rural areas. 

The Government of Kenya and all duty bearers should therefore design the mitigation mechanisms not to lead to the segregation or institutionalisation of PLWD. Community level protective measures should be prioritized in the alternative, allowing care givers to continue to safely support PLWD, enabling them to meet their daily living, health care, and transport needs, and maintain their employment and educational commitments.

2.      Important public health measures

The main public health measures that should propagated to curb the spread of COVID 19 are as follows:

  1. Improved accessibility to hand washing areas with running water and soap so that PLWDs are able to use the facilities without assistance.
  2. PLWDs should embrace having hand sanitizers with them at all times. They should sanitise their assistive appliances like wheel chairs and crutches to ensure that they are not carriers of the virus.
  3. Use of gloves should be encouraged and the same be frequently sanitized. The assistive devices should be washed with water and soap once they reach home. Caution should be exercised if gloves are used. PLWD should ensure they do not touch their face with the gloves.
  4. Handwashing should be encouraged for personal assistants, parents, guardians of persons with disability who assist them frequently.
  5. Persons with visual impairments who have to use touch to tell their environment should be encouraged to use gloves and if possible, to avoid touch of people and surfaces all together to prevent COVID 19 transmission.
  6. Use of masks throughout by PLWD depending on their disability, preferably one with an elastic to the ears to avoid frequently having to put it in place. Some may need assistance to put on again, so once assisted it should remain in place. Depending on the type of disability, some persons with disabilities have personal assistants, who also have to put on a mask, so that they do not infect the persons with disability and vice versa.
  7. Social distance; currently it is recommended to be 1 metre away, and lately some say 1.5 metre away from each other. This may be difficult especially for persons with disability who require someone to constantly be around them for assistance. This being the case depending on the disability, both the aide and the person with disability should be in a mask. They should have a sanitizer to constantly sanitize their hands. Staying home, remains the best option for all including PLWD.

3.      Conclusion

PLWD in Kenya are indeed at increased risk of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus infection or severe disease because of existing comorbidities, and are additionally facing traditional barriers to health care during the current pandemic. Health-care staff ought to be provided with rapid awareness training on the rights and diverse needs of this group to maintain their dignity, safeguard against discrimination, and prevent inequities in care provision. The Government should ensure that COVID-19 mitigation mechanisms are inclusive of PLWD to ensure they maintain respect for dignity, human rights and fundamental freedoms, and avoid widening existing disparities. 

Of necessity, this includes accelerating efforts to include these groups in COVID-19 containment and response planning. It will require diligence, creativity, and innovative thinking, to preserve Kenya’s commitment to UHC, and ensure PLWD are not forgotten.

 

Disclaimer: All views expressed here are that of the author and do not necessarily represent views/opinions of any entity or agency.

a Public Health and Disability Inclusion Expert

Email: fasindua@gmail.com

______________________

What lessons can the low income Countries like Kenya learn from the Corona episodes? Author Mugambi Paul

When it comes to COVID-19, the only thing we can really be sure of is that we don’t really know very much at all. Mortality rates, the R-0 value (the number

of people each coronavirus patient will go on to infect), just how far we need to stand away from an infected person, whether or not we should wear masks,

and just about everything else about dealing with this virus seems to change with each passing day.

 

Are we dealing with one strain or two? Has the virus mutated? And, importantly, can people who have “recovered” from the virus continue to infect others?

If so, for how long?

 

According to a report by the South China Morning Post

 (SCMP), doctors in Wuhan, China, found that between 3 and 10 percent of “recovered” patients continued to test positive even after being discharged from

hospital.

 

It has already been established that around 25 percent of COVID-19 patients are asymptomatic, and despite not showing any symptoms, are still infectious.

Might it not be possible, then, that patients who are no longer displaying symptoms, but test positive, could still be infectious? As reported by the SCMP, researchers across the globe are working flat-out to determine whether COVID-19 patients develop antibodies that will protect

them from future infections, and whether those who have officially recovered can still infect others.

 

The country with the best recovery rate to date is China, and as such, scientists are very interested in any research to come out of that country.

 

The SCMP reported:

 

The Chinese mainland, where the disease first emerged last December, has discharged over 90 per cent of its infected patients and around 4,300 confirmed

patients are still receiving treatment in hospitals. …

 

Wang Wei, president of Tongji hospital told CCTV’s prime-time programme that of the 147 recovered patients they studied, only five – or just over 3 per

cent – have tested positive in nucleic acid tests again after recovery.

 

Wang and his team insist that their study should not cause concern because there is no evidence that “recovered” patients can still infect others.

 

He told the media that none of the family members or associates of the five patients who recovered in his hospital but continued to test positive went

on to get infected.

Nonetheless, their findings are especially relevant because China now has thousands of “recovered” patients, and if the doctors are wrong, these patients

could go on to infect others.

 

And other Chinese researchers have found that far more than 3 percent of patients who no longer exhibit symptoms still test positive.

 

The SCMP reported further:

 

Life Times, a health news outlet affiliated with People’s Daily, reported this week that quarantine facilities in Wuhan have reported that about 5 to 10

per cent of their recovered patients tested positive again.

 

Previous reports have also highlighted cases where patients tested positive after recovery, including one case study about a family of three

in Wuhan, who all tested positive again.

 

These incidents have raised questions about whether nucleic acid tests might not be reliable in detecting traces of the virus in some of the recovered

patients.

 

Some experts have also expressed concerns about the sensitivity and stability of the test kits, and the collection and handling of patients’ samples.

 

Only time will tell whether recovered patients can continue to infect others or not, but with close to a million patients worldwide and over 50,000 who

have already died, we can only hope and pray that the Chinese scientists are right.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Will corona 2019 be the answer of removing the disabled Kenyans under the bus by the policy makers? “WHY WE MUST ADDRESS STRUCTURAL INEQUALITIES” Guest Author Mildred Omino

 

World Health Organization declared Coronavirus Disease (COVID19) a pandemic on March 11,2020 following presence of 118,000 cases in over 110 countries and territories around the world with a sustained risk for further spread. At a media briefing, Dr. Tedros, The WHO Director General called upon sectoral and individual involvement in the fight against COVID-19.

Two days after the declaration of the Pandemic by WHO, Kenya recorded the first case of COVID19 amid panic and speculations among the citizens. Prior to the declaration, the disease outbreak was surrounded by myths such as “Children are immune to the Virus”, “The virus can’t survive in high temperatures”, and “The virus affects old people”. With all these myths, Kenyans felt safe since the myths presented a favorable situation to majority of the population. Some of the quick measures enforced by the government of Kenya were, closure of all learning institutions, establishment of COVID emergency response committees at both national and county level as well as regular media briefings on the situation of COVID19 as well as national guidelines on how to contain the virus.

As the virus made top agenda both globally and nationally with infections spreading pretty fast, there was little or no focus given to the impact of the virus on people with disabilities from basic actions such as access to information to critical measures such as emergency response measures to the pandemic.

Globally, the world is home to approximately one billion people with disabilities, eighty percent who live in developing countries and 2-4% experience significant difficulty in functioning. With the increased prevalence of chronic diseases this number is bound to increase. People with disability experience poorer health outcomes, have less access to education and work opportunities, and are more likely to live in poverty than those without a disability. The global situation of people with disabilities as outlined by WHO and World Bank is replicated in Kenya

 

Why We must address Structural Inequalities experienced by persons with disabilities:

In the Wake of COVID19, WHO and respective government ministries of health have developed and advanced key messages around hand hygiene, social distancing, quarantine, isolation of suspected cases and staying at home”.

Majority of persons with disabilities have been missing out on key messages on containing the virus for various reasons such as lack of sign language interpreters during media briefings, lack of information in accessible formats, complexity in messaging for people with intellectual disabilities and “complete cut off on information for poor disabled persons who can’t access television, internet, smart phones merely because the information channels has been social media, radio and television”.

Social distancing has proven to be the most difficult outcome for people with disabilities who are constantly and in fulltime need of personal assistance and personal guides for basic services such as self-care. Little or no information is available for personal assistants of persons with disabilities on best ways of offering care to persons with disabilities during this pandemic, thereby leaving people with disabilities to act in their own discretion.

More so, hand sanitization goes beyond hands all the way to assistive devices such as crutches, calipers, prosthetic limbs, wheelchairs and white canes just to name but a few. This aspect in itself compounds the cost of sanitizers used by persons with disabilities. And for those who do not have assistive devices and are forced to crawl or walk while touching surfaces, the situation becomes even more wanting! The whole aspect of sanitization is either compromised or too expensive if at all it is achievable.

 

The New Normal:

With the outbreak of COVID19 most people are working from home with exception of those who are providing essential services which must be provided on site. Companies/businesses and individuals have quickly adopted to “working remotely” as the only feasible way to contain the spread of the virus. Interesting enough, most jobs in both private and public sector which were presumed to be undertaken in office setting are currently being done from home with support of Technology. One would rightfully think that this “New normal” is the ideal situation for people with disabilities who courtesy of their disability would conveniently work remotely and on ‘’flexi schedules”.

The reality check reveals that majority of persons with disability are unemployed with key reasons for unemployment being inaccessible workplaces i.e. lack of elevators and ramps in office buildings, high cost of hiring sign language interpreters and personal assistants as well as the cost of making adjustments/modifications to office buildings to ensure that they are disability friendly. These scenarios have prompted most potential employers to hire people without disabilities and simply forget about the nightmare of “reasonable accommodations” that would create an employment opportunity for a person with disability.

Potential Employers have also lamented that persons with disabilities lack the requisite qualifications for various jobs. The case of structural inequalities is well demonstrated in education system where learners with disabilities struggles to get education that would adequately prepare them for the job market. The systemic challenges boil down to physical accessibility of learning institutions, inadequate adaptive technology to support disability specific needs, lack of assistive devices and limited or no resources allocated to meet disability specific needs. A small percentage of learners with disabilities make it to higher education whereas majority do not transition from basic education to higher education

Inequitable and socially unjust systems have led to underemployment and unemployment of persons with disabilities leaving most of them to work in the informal sector or to be totally unemployed and a few employed in private and public sector. Post COVID19 it would be important to offer equitable education and employment opportunities now that we know that most jobs can be done remotely without heavy investment on physical infrastructure. Policy makers should desist from policies that lump all vulnerable groups together but rather develop policy guidelines that speak to specific guidelines on how to mitigate the unique challenges of the different vulnerable groups, whether Children, Women, Persons with Disabilities or old people.

 

The views expressed here are for the author and do not represent any agency or organization.

 

Mildred Omino

Founder,Women and Realities of Disability Society

Feminist and Disability Rights Champion

Will it be the “White smoke” from the 10 billion Cash transfer to the disabled Kenyans? Author Mugambi Paul and DR Siyat.

Over the last 3 weeks the Kenyan government has been excoriated on the measure it would avail to the poor due to the hard-economic times and the coming in of Covid-2019 pandemic. Talking of poverty,

several studies show disabled Kenyans are the largest minority who face this tragedy.

Kenyans with disabilities are disproportionately affected by the current situation, as we are by all-natural disasters and major crises. It is vital that our

voices are part of developing solutions, innovating, problem solving.

as 2 experts we are deeply concerned about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on disabled Kenyans, chronic ill persons and the elderly. Bearing in mind that Kenyans with disabilities are among the Kenya’s most marginalized and stigmatized even under normal circumstances.

This requires us all to act, interact and communicate in different ways than we are used to. However, the social inequalities

degeneration COVID19’s impact on Kenyans with disabilities are not new. The risk in the response to the current crisis is that disabled Kenyans

will be left behind once again. The good news is that we already know what works. Fundamentally, we need social justice, equality of opportunities and

decent work.

According the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities “The pandemic is an unprecedented public health,

social and economic emergency that requires swift and effective action by Kenyan public and private sectors, and the society at large.

We know that COVID-19 is more serious for those with underlying health conditions and particularly those who are immunocompromised. What does this outbreak mean for the Kenyan Disability community?

Both national and county Governments should ensure they take

all necessary measures to ensure the protection and safety of disabled persons, aged and persons with chronic illnesses] Ilo 2020 WHO 2020 UN 2020 HI 2020 [.

 Legal framework:

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities states that people with disability have the right to health without discrimination

on the basis of disability, including access to population-based public health programmes (Article 25) and that governments also have a duty to take all

necessary measures to ensure the protection and safety of persons with disabilities in situations of risk (Article 11).

 

Facts to consider:

Providentially, even in non-pandemic circumstances, people with disability are more likely than the general population to have health issues, compromised immunity, increased

risk of morbidity, comorbidities and are more likely to die from preventable causes] Whiteford 2011 DFID 2013, HI 2015un 2012].

According to several studies Some disabled Kenyans will be unable to maintain social distancing

practices because they rely on support workers for vital daily personal care, such as eating, drinking, walking, mobility toileting and dressing.

in addition, disabled Kenyans often rely on family, friends and care givers to provide essential services. During the Corona pandemic, these people may not be able

to provide their usual support.   

Also, in different Kenyan social media platforms disabled Kenyans like many in the broader community, are expressing anxiety about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Of course, this nervousness is exacerbated by the feeling that they are being left behind or ignored by Kenyan government, private sector and community Corona responses.

Background of social assistance programmes:

Current social assistance programmes include the Older Persons Cash Transfer Programme; the Orphaned and Vulnerable Children Cash Transfer Programme; the Persons with Severe Disabilities Cash Transfer Programme; the Hunger Safety Net Programme; and the Urban Food Subsidy Programme. The effective implementation of these programmes is constrained by challenges such as how to refine inclusion and exclusion criteria and how to determine appropriate transfer amounts.

 

Corona Rescue plan:

We acknowledge the efforts made by Kenyan government by the issuance of the additional 10 billion Kenyan shillings to the ministry of social protection for the vulnerable population in form of cash transfer.

Definitely in the coming days disabled Kenyans expect a white smoke at the NSSF building which houses the ministry of social protection in Kenya.

Most disabled Kenyans are highly expectant of the policy regulations and guidelines on the 10 billion promise by the executive order by the president of Kenya.

Unequivocally, with proper feedback mechanisms and regular consultation disabled Kenyans will be able to know if cash transfer policy programmed will meet their policy needs.

In other words, disabled Kenyans will comprehend how  the 10 billion cash transfer injection to the inua jamii will target the current registered severe disabled persons, elderly, orphans and vulnerable children or it will be meant  for targeting additional new  vulnerable individuals due to the effects of  of Corona 2019. Arguably, much of the debate about cash transfer among disabled Kenyans programmes revolves around the issues of targeting. This is because with the current strategy only severe disabled persons are targeted and considered.

https://labour.go.ke/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/MLSP-Strategic-Plan-2018-2022_17.09.2019.pdf

 

 

This will be a great test as different stakeholders and policy makers in the social protection department scratch their heads on the right footing on which to take in the implementation policy framework.

Will the policy makers ensure inclusion of other disabled Kenyans since they are also mostly vulnerable?

We believe the cash transfer will avert the short-term impact of the Corona crisis and attenuate its long-term negative effects on human development outcomes.

Nonetheless, it is one thing to say that Kenya with Inua jamii -like programmes are sheltering the more vulnerable from the worst consequences of the Corona crisis, and another to recommend that Inua jamii programmes be designed and implemented during a crisis Lehmann, C. (2012. Several steps are involved, political will is required, and funds must be committed. The ministry of social protection has a pivotal role to ensure coordination, operation and more resources even from development partners.

We observe, the Cash transfer programme will be effective if it will be implemented under a sustainable social protection strategy. Such a strategy should enable better coordination among programmes, between the national and county government ,and among the different international players in order to avoid duplication of effort and waste of resources.

For instance, Mombasa have already started a SMS service asking those who aren’t in the Cash transfer to register “widows, orphans, persons with disabilities, and persons with pre-existing conditions into the emergency plan

Has Mombasa county link up with the national cash transfer programme?

Data base and registration for the cash transfer:

Due to social distance directive as a preventive measure of spread of Corona. Will the ministry of social protection work on vigorous registration, collection of data and automation of all new persons with disabilities, orphans and the elderly?

Or will the ministry of social protection synchronize the current departments databases of children services, NCPWD and   department of social development under the strategic guidance of the National Social Protection Secretariat programme?

This will enable to identify the unmet needs through geographic, demographic and welfare status.

Furthermore, quite a lot of reports indicate the current enhanced single registry adapted through the social assistance programme has improved efficiency and reduction of bottlenecks experienced when the ministry of social protection had 3 separate registries [development pathways 2020[.

Through this policy integration the ministry has    a clear database and actualize its programmes effectively Bobonis, G. and F. Finan (2019).

Such database can enable the ministry to build an array of indicators on disabled persons, orphans and vulnerable children, elderly socioeconomic conditions. Therefore, this is a powerful tool for mapping the different needs. and they could be used to guide other policies. Like the current need of food, water, soap and hand sanitizers.  Moreover, Registries enhance monitoring of the poorest families’ access to social services and infrastructure in a more calibrated way than household surveys. The latter, though they are nationally representative, are often based on small samples that do not facilitate sound analysis for local-level interventions. This knowledge base allows rapid crisis response when programmes may need to expand in order to cover a larger proportion of those that fall into poverty.

Key considerations for the cash transfer:

We consider that the ministry of social protection will cast tis net wider in order to seek input from people with disability, leading disability experts, organizations of persons with disabilities and advocates

in developing their dedicated cash transfer strategy, and in particular, in its COVID-19 Coordination

secondly, Disabled Kenyans with disability, particularly slum dwellers and rural inhabitants, may be disproportionately affected by the pandemic due to increased risk of

infection, higher number of co‑morbidities and because of underlying health conditions such as chronic diseases and respiratory illnesses. Numerically speaking, most disabled persons in Kenya live in slum areas and rural areas without basic amenities. Some live-in solitude while others have been housed.

Most of the disabled population and other low-income earners live hand to mouth. This is to say, COVID-19 will spread rapidly and is especially dangerous to people living in close proximity to others in closed settings [WHO 2020].

Worse still, Thousands of adults and children

with disabilities in Kenya live in segregated and often overcrowded residential settings where they can face neglect, abuse, gender-based violence, and inadequate health care and lack human Rights.

Of particular concern are women and girls with disabilities.

This affirms that disable Kenyans are survivors in this country [KNHR 2015]

 

Thirdly disabled Kenyans continue to face barriers in accessing health care, including prevention, testing, screening and treatment for COVID-19. Fourthly, disabled Kenyans will be   unable to access regular and vital medications and therapeutic services due to low supplies and restrictions in access. Fifthly, disabled Kenyans may not have access to mental health services at a time when the need for accessible and responsive mental health is heightened. Sixthly,

disabled Kenyans will be unable to easily access essential health supplies to keep themselves safe, such as personal protective equipment, hand sanitiser and sterilising

Equipment.

lastly are worried that discrimination or unconscious bias could impact their access to critical and lifesaving health care during this crisis.

to we hope the measures taken will ensure the needs of all Kenyans with disabilities are included in

the response to the pandemic.

As experts we appreciate and acknowledges the challenges that national and county governments and private sector are facing during this pandemic.

 

We call upon all national and county governments to ensure that, in their responses, they include dedicated disability strategies to protect and support disabled Kenyans.

Long term solutions:

We opine that Kenya is still a developing nation We therefore suggest inclusion of one our BBI recommendations which we presented at the task force in February 7th, 2020 as a long-term solution.

  1. Ministry of social protection to establish a disability employment service department under the national employment authority since the authority is in charge of all Kenyans in need of employment. so that they are able to execute employment needs of persons with disabilities Through this agency real disability mainstreaming will be achieved. If this recommendation will be adapted, we believe rapid change will take place. We opine disabled persons won’t need to be in cash transfer for long since cash transfers are not meant for long term programming.
  2. We hope the ministry of social protection can take advantage of the Corona crises to execute of reasonable accommodation plans in all its organs and offer vital lessons to both public and private sector.

All in all, our policymakers will have to come up with a homegrown resolution for ensuring disabled Kenyans rights are protected. And this will not be easy.

 

 

 

The views expressed here are for the authors and do not represent any agency or organization.

 Mugambi Paul is a public policy, diversity, inclusion and sustainability expert.

Dr Siyat is a  independent  consultant and systemic advocacy service provider.

 

Why Social Isolation is a Greek term to the disabled Kenyans: Author Mugambi Paul

Several studies indicate that in an emergency person who are disabled, aged and who have chronic illnesses are mostly left behind and most at risk [Help age 2012, HI 2019, UN 2020, WHO 2020].

This is because persons without disabilities will be fighting and running away for their fate. As evidenced many Kenyans have started to go back to the rural places.

 

As a public policy scholar and with lived experience of being disabled and advocate for inclusive approaches in both humanitarian and development spheres.

I am concerned on the current and feature effects of Corona on lives of disabled Kenyans and chronically ill people who are currently falling into cracks.

In other words, they are

being hit and particularly hard by the virus outbreak and access to support services seem to be becoming scarce and finally

will be cut as the crisis worsens.

Evidently, in Nairobi and other major towns Panic buying of cereals, groceries, toilet papers, hand sanitizers and other protective equipment, which also disabled and chronic ill people need have suddenly doubled the prices and also have started to be scarce.

I  observe,  Kenyans without disabilities  and who can stockpile are the ones who are probably less at risk because they were able to rush out to the shops, whereas a lot of disabled Kenyans like  me,  elderly, e and persons with   chronic illnesses just can’t get these commodities.

This is coupled with high poverty levels among the disabled Kenyans.

On the other hand, the Cabinet secretary of Health gave a directive prioritizing the elderly and persons with disabilities in the queuing system in the supermarket [daily nation Friday March 2020[

This pronouncement shows that disabled persons have started to be brought in in Corona conversations though much needs to be done in order not to live us behind. If this directive will be followed, we are yet to see.

 

Could the Kenyan supermarket borrow a leaf from Tesco in the United Kingdom or supermarkets in Australia?

In both nations they have reasonable accommodation for ensuring disabled persons, elderly and persons with chronic illnesses are able to shop comfortable and provision of delivery for those with large shopping.

The Corona virus has equalized us all and it has led to the realization that what works for all works for disabled too] UN 2006 UNDP 2017 ILO 2019 Whiteford 2019].

 

Dilemma of social distance: you

 

Social distancing is not an option for disabled Kenyans. The Kenyan government and more so the ministry of health and disability stakeholders need to go back to the drawing board in order to address the needs and priorities of disabled Kenyans so that we can have inclusive corona interventions.

Of course, many Kenyans with out disabilities take things for granted. This is because most will never fit in to our shoes till when they join our disability club.

For instance, Kenyans    with a disability, who rely on care givers and support workers for daily living and sighted guide services including washing and dressing.

I am talking about people with spinal cord injuries, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, sometimes people with intellectual disability, psychosocial disability, the elderly, Down syndrome,

that might need assistance with showering, with going to the toilet.

Moreover, social stigma in Kenya is still ripe,

Shoppers who ar blind and vision impaired will not get sighted guided assistance in the shopping spree due to the continued pronouncement by Kenyan government that we should be one metre point five away and avoid handshakes.

in case the president issues an executive order of total or partial lock down, I observe the disabled will be worst hit even withing there local surroundings.

Did you know most of the local shopping areas are highly squeezed and have low ventilation?

How will my fellow wheelchair users avoid assistance not being close while many of the wheelchairs in Kenya are manual?

Furthermore, some disabled creep on the floors!

How will they shopwith out contacts?

Most Kenyan roads are inaccessible how will the Blind and vision impaired avoid falling in to ditches and trenches?

Our independence and self estieem by the use of assistive divides is being questioned!

How can this non handshake apply to mobility impaired persons like Blind, Crutch users, wheelchair users?

Does the Cabinet secretary of Health and policy makers know our devices are metallic?

What if the care giver is infected and need to self-isolate?

This will make Disabled persons become at higher risk,

Additionally, the actual time and effort of finding somebody else, finding the right person that’s going to fit, as well

as then training someone up from scratch again, is a huge effort for people with very high support needs who are going to be in that really high-risk category. The ministry of health needs to train its front-line staff on basic disability inclusion tips

 

Why are the disability sector and stakeholders silent as the lack of disability inclusive Corona continues?

Are they contributing to uninterrupted discrimination and injustice to the larger wanjikus with disabilities?

I suppose they are hiding and later after the Corona era is over, they will claim we were left behind!

The Kenyan media should rise to the occasion and speak on behalf of the disabled Kenyans and persons with chronic illnesses.

Contribution by disability sector:

The disability sector, human right bodies and other policy stakeholders have the role to monitor and report the government organs on the said implementation.

This is actually time for disabled experts, disabled persons organizations, human right bodies state organs practising disability mainstreaming should contribute to more inclusive Corona interventions.

What if the Kenyan disabled stakeholders changed tact and start to advocate for now the silent revolution of reasonable accommodation being implemented?

To put it differently why doesn’t the disability sector join the table instead of awaiting to be in the menu?

I opine, Kenya has great public policies on reasonable accommodation now is the right time to,

push for implementation.

let me illustrate

What if the disability sector and stakeholders pushed the national construction authority now to publish and implement real accessibility standards of buildings?

Most likely we shall have makeshift hospitals. Will they be accessible?

Why don’t the disability stakeholders within their budgets adjust and contribute to the ministry of health on inclusive approaches?

For instance, developing Kenyan sign language clip on how to prevent Corona virus then distribute to the mainstream media and social platforms?

Why don’t the disability stakeholders produce material into braille and distribute all over the country through the free matter for the blind service offered by poster corporation as entrenched in the persons with disabilities act 2003?

Does the disability sector know the time is now for implementing the Marrakesh treaty?

Could the global commitment made by Kenya government, private sector and disability stakeholders be revisited in the area of innovation and make non-metallic assistive devices?

 

All in all, this coronavirus comes with a silver lining. At least, it will pep up people to take normal civic sense to a higher status. So that besides coronavirus

we actually end up also fighting other issues like discrimination faced by Kenyans with this will lead to breaking some if not all the barriers that disabled Kenyans face.

 

 

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.

 

Why the DISABLED Kenyans are pregnant in the Corona era: Author Mugambi Paul

 

Generally speaking, The COVID-19 pandemic occurring in Kenya should be of utmost concern to every citizen. This is because we need to work together around the country in solidarity.

Ofcourse, the risen times are extra-ordinary. This is the times that will redefine Kenyan human spirit.

 Are we going to ensure disability-inclusive, accessible disaster-response?

On my own behalf and the disabled Kenyans

 We acknowledge the great leadership displayed by cabinet secretary Mutahi Kagwe of ministry of health under this difficult circumstance. Moreover, the CS is communicating in to minds and hearts of all citizens. Could this be adapted as the new norm to Kenyan organization culture of governance?

 

On the other hand, the Corona virus seems to have equalized all of us and the realization of the economic inequalities that exist among low income Kenyans

Amongst these is the largest minority “Kenyans with disabilities” of who make up more than 15 % of the population [WHO 2011]. we need to examine corona virus by waring the disability lenses.

On March 20th, 2020 during the daily updates a more disability inclusive approach was adapted.

This affirms that the CS is a great communicator.

though much needs to be done to realize disability Inclusive approaches.

As a  public policy scholar and a  person with lived experience of being blind I  opine that if what the CS health interventions were to be made long term policy execution the Kenyan  government will  overcome many challenges of including persons with disabilities and resolve the  unemployed citizens  mystery.

In other words, our policies must not discriminate. Disabled and low-income people must be included in every policy, every fund, every new law.

This is the real meaning of disability mainstreaming.

 

Background:

 

Kenyans with disabilities’ needs and concerns should be adequately addressed in existing COVID-19 Kenyan relief packages. 

I affirm that Disability impacts every community and occurs at every stage of life. In addition to impacting Kenyans with disabilities more disparately, the virus is also likely to create disability while people recover [WHO 2020].

Fact to consider:

I believe The Corona virus has awaken the public consciousness of what works for the disabled Kenyans can also work for all

Challenges faced by disabled Kenyans:

Unfortunately. Clean water and sanitation facilities aren’t always available or accessible, particularly for Kenyans with

Disabilities and the low-income earners [UNICEF 2017[.

Are the newly 500 water points in Nairobi accessible to all disabled Kenyans?

 Life-saving information often doesn’t reach those who are deaf, blind, using wheelchairs, illiterate, Deafblind or living in remote areas.

I uphold this global health emergency, the ability to read timely information in an accessible format is even more critical than usual. I   believe the more people access and act upon the information that Ministry of health leaders and public officials are

providing, the better we Kenyans can all cope with the rapidly evolving situation.

 

 

 Furthermore, the corona virus puts people with chronic diseases, Kenyans with disabilities, and the elderly most at risk. could the ministry of health issue a statement regarding rationing of care to ensure that when rationing treatment begins, decisions about how medical treatment should be allocated are made without discriminating based on disability?

 

 Worse still, the Kenyan health system is

not prepared. In China it is reported already some disabled persons have died due to starvation and nonattendance.

Information campaigns and medical care must include the needs of Kenyans with disabilities. It is pivotal that Kenyan state as a duty bearer identify and monitor people with

disabilities in their communities. Frontline staff need training on caring for people with disabilities in the crisis.  The ministry of health should also ensure protection of the front-line health workers by provision of the equipment which they need to execute their work safely

masks, gowns, shields, gloves, suits, and other equipment. Therefore, preventing further spreading of COVID-19.

I urge the Kenyan public policy makers and stakeholders to think boldly and broadly in their response to this pandemic and waste no time saving lives and have actionable long-term policies and regulations.

 

Different ILO studies have affirmed with proper reasonable accommodation execution productivity is high and brings diversity. For instance, If the ministry of public service, ministry of labour, federation of Kenya employers, employment authority, ministry of transport, disability experts can work together via video link can craft a reasonable accommodation regulation.

This is to say with flexibility and

creative solutions are more important than ever in this Corona era.

With this regulation, the president with his executive power ascent can save Kenya a great deal.

several studies and additional public health experts have stated that disabled Kenyans are more vulnerable to COVID-19. Beyond the specific conditions or diagnoses that may raise susceptibility to the virus itself, Kenyans with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to the broader social, civil, and economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

Thus life in Kenya will never be the same again.

will this be a turning point for Kenyan Parliament and senate to ensure a inclusive social protection cover for the marginalized?

  Outlined below are a series of expectations that could benefit Kenya in the long run:

  1. Prioritize and Expand Home delivery services. This can be done through acceleration of M-post services since most Kenyans have Mobile phones additionally more private delivery companies can also be incorporated with a particular county. This would reduce the social contacts since most Kenyans go seeking for goods outside there vicinities.
  2. 24 shift working economy: this can be accelerated by both public and private employers thus even reduction of man hour spent on traffic. Moreover, through shift working economy it would increase work productivity. Some best practises can be borrowed from the private sector. Could this be an opportunity for implementing 2030 vision? Additionally, if adopted in Nairobi, Kisumu, Meru and Mombasa can say by bye to the traffic menace. Could the new Nairobi Metropolitan team adapt this?
  3.  

Prioritize access of digitalized documentation: if this was to be adopted most government documents would be gotten easily. For instance, one of the best recently successful is acquiring renewal of tax exemption among the Kenyans with disabilities although now with the advent of Corona Kenya revenue authority and NCPWD needs now more than ever to decentralize the service. This would actually reduce the transport expenses incurred by Kenyans and also save working hours.

  1. Cash transfer uptake: As the coronavirus crisis has caused a significant economic downturn, I believe that it is essential for ministry o of treasury  to authorize an increase in cash transfer programme to the ministry  of social protection in order to reduce the economic shocks among persons with disabilities,  the seniors of Kenyans   and their care givers. Who are already vulnerable and not covered with the current cash transfer programme.

This move will enable government of Kenya to reduce vulnerability levels.

5 food access:

Regular access to healthy food is key to maintaining strong immune systems. I   encourage the Kenyan government to expand access to food distribution during this period especially to chronic ill persons, the low-income earners, disabled Kenyans, the slum areas and vulnerable populations.

Regrettably, many Kenyan families even before corona era were living under distress for lack of one meal a day.

 Sadly, many Kenyans ability to keep and maintain employment will be impacted by both the business and transit closures.

If short term measures are not taken this might lead to civil strife and increase of psychosocial disabilities among Kenyans.

6.Access to transport: the Kenyan government can support the public transport sector by having reduction of oil prices thus preventing Kenyans from paying extra charges.

Additionally, the government owned busses offer the services to support the private owned public transport services with the new half full caring capacity policy implementation. Where are the NYS busses?

 I observe there has been increased discipline in the Matatu industry by the reduction of congestion by the ministry of Health directive.

Environmentally speaking, drastic air pollution has reduced.

 

How I wish it was a daily Norm in the public transport.

Could the government offer tax wavers for public transport to acquire disability inclusive buses?

 

7. Implementation of accessibility standards.

The national construction authority and disability stakeholders should rally behind and ensure when makeshift hospitals,

isolation facilities and construction of new hospitals are fully accessible and equipped with accessible beds.

Therefore, Duty bearers should ensure disability civil rights protections are fully protected since rights   are not negotiable. I believe time is ripe to enforce and implement article 27, 54 of the constitution and persons with disability act 2003 for protecting rights of disabled Kenyans.

  1. inclusive economic stimulus: Kenyans with disabilities must be included in the economic relief proposals now under consideration by the private sector and Kenyan government. Given that COVID-19 poses unique risks for Kenyans with disabilities and other low-income earners that may make it more difficult for those who are not in any form of employment. This will enable people with disabilities and low-income earners to be able to survive during the current crisis. The economic stimulus should be easily and equitably available for all. Of particular concern are men, women, girls and boys with disabilities.
  2. All of these recommendations are critical to addressing the spread of COVID-19 and addressing our nation’s public health more broadly and ensuring we meet the SDGS by not living any one behind.

As the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King said, “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” The fragile state of this “network of mutuality” has become all too apparent during the coronavirus outbreak. Though we may be vulnerable, we are not dispensable. In fact, disabled Kenyans have critical experience to share in adapting to challenging and constantly changing situations affecting our health, employment, education, housing, and families–experience that all fellow Kenyans will need in the days and weeks ahead. We are grateful for the urgency with which the Ministry of Health is moving to make sure that the Kenyan people never feel the worst of this pandemic, and am seeking  only to protect Kenyan disability  community from the unintended but all too foreseeable impacts of discrimination.

especially during all phases of disaster preparation, response, recovery, and mitigation.

 

 

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

the catastrophe of being Blind and Disabled in the Corona era “Lessons for Policy makers!” Author Mugambi Paul.

Kenyans living with disability are a vulnerable group; a larger proportion are older, and with underlying health conditions. Almost half of all people with disability
are aged 65 and above. And only 24% of adults with disability experience very good or excellent health, compared with 65% of without disability [world report 2011].
Apparently in Kenya, Disability is generally very misunderstood and very unacknowledged, even though 15 % of disabled Kenyans make up the population.
The world is paying close attention to the outbreak of novel coronavirus, following its emergence in December 2019 in Wuhan, China but the voice of disabled Kenyans is still inadequate.
This is because of lack of political influence, inadequate social services and lack of opportunities to adapt.
This indicates The rest of 85 % of Kenya’s population is engaged.
Over the last six years, the health sector in Kenya has exhibited significant developments, including the introduction of the Linda Mama (free maternity) initiative, the Beyond Zero campaign, efforts to revamp the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF), as well as a multi-million dollar Medical Equipment Leasing scheme aimed at bringing advanced medical equipment closer to citizens across the 47 counties and in key referral facilities.
The inclusion of health in the president’s legacy priorities (Big Four Agenda) underlined this stated commitment to improving healthcare.
This obviously follows the Constitutional requirement, Kenya Health Act 2014 and Kenya Health Policy 2014-30. In addition, Kenya has ascribed to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including SDG No 3, that commits governments to provide quality healthcare for all.
Are these Kenyan Health regulation disability inclusive?
Data evidence:
According to latest data over 132,000 cases of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) have been reported and 4,900 people have died. The virus has reached 123 countries [WHO 2020[.
How does the virus spread?

Epidemiological evidence shows that 2019 nCoV can be transmitted from one individual to another. During previous outbreaks due to other coronaviruses, including Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS CoV) and the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (SARS CoV), human to human transmission most commonly occurred through droplets, personal contact, and contaminated objects (fomites). The modes of transmission of 2019 nCoV are likely to be similar.
The precise zoonotic (animal) origin of the 2019 nCoV is still uncertain. The virus has been identified in environmental samples from a live animal market in Wuhan, and some human cases have been epidemiologically linked to this market. Other coronavirus, such as SARS and MERS, are also zoonotic, and can be transmitted from animals (civet cats and dromedary camels, respectively) to humans.
On the other hand, With the outbreak of a novel coronavirus declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation, people worldwide are working to address it.
According to the WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a terse statement that this is the first time the world is battling a pandemic against a coronavirus disease.
This has seen nations executing travel bans to sport shutdowns. Meanwhile other countries like Italy, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia and rwanda have locked out their countries.
coronavirus is changing life as we know it. It’s tough to know who to trust – that’s why it’s vital to receive facts.
Disabled Kenyans are at higher risk due to the multifaceted related factors in addition of having a disability. WHO is warning people across the world to avoid contact?
But populations in less developed countries like Kenya are wondering how that is possible when they still need to go to search for food, work, purchase items, go to church or mosque or connect with family and friends.
Key factors:
Rise of stigma and discrimination.
Already in existence it will be Upsurge by the lack of shaking hands as announced by the ministry of health.
Of course, Many Blind and disabled persons require support when crossing the busy Thika superhighway or the Westland routes.
For instance, Crutch and white cane users tend to touch metal rails, touching escalator handrails, using traffic light buttons, reaching for train door opening buttons and holding safely
on to handrails on public buses and Matatus while crossing, some may require to be held while crossing.
how can we avoid handshake?
I observe many disabled Kenyans are anxious. This is because we can control what we touch, but we can’t control what
other people have touched.
Will the ministries of health or ministry of transport provide qualified volunteers?
Or will the ministry of health or transport provide protective products like hand sanitizers to the public transport providers?
I observe, With the Corona in place discrimination and stigma will rise in totality since citizens with out disabilities will be having social distance thus disabled Kenyans might stop seeking services or refuse to travel.
Coupled with poverty levels many disabled Kenyans will not afford the buying of the required protective gears like hand sanitizers.

Second factor is Isolation:
Several studies show disabled persons have lived in isolation for long and this will be a lesson for persons without disabilities.
majority disabled Kenyans are at increased risk of serious or fatal complications from COVID-19 (coronavirus). In an active community outbreak, the
safest option may be to self-isolate at home, perhaps for weeks or longer. In order to prepare for this possibility, I believe its high time the Kenyan ministry of health recommends
that people at high risk stock up on necessities, including maintenance prescription medication.
Worst still, many disabled Kenyans can’t take this advice because m95 % of the disabled do not have insurance.
This is a great chance of disability stakeholders to network with the national hospital insurance fund to probably register all disabled persons visiting the health service providers.
Moreover, the lack of insurance as a social protection measure has left many disabled Kenyans to be more vulnerable.
Solution for NHIF:
I would suggest NHIF recognizes and automates its system to include the disability card issued by NCPWD.
Absolutely this would increase the uptake of insurance among disabled Kenyans.
Will the Kenyan legislature enact an insurance regulation of eliminating the wait time for employment insurance payments?
Third factor is Logistics:
Unfortunately, accessing the pharmacy can be risky for some disabled Kenyans and people with chronic illnesses and even pregnant women.
. Some people with disabilities may also face logistical challenges in getting to the pharmacy if support services become disrupted
due to sudden rise of isolations and being left behind.

Moreover, the Kenyan pharmacy are yet to embrace the mailing services. This could have been a solution instead of putting all at risk.
Will the delivery companies in Kenya grab the opportunity?
The ministry of health has announced measures of
Of ensuring localized outbreaks and social distancing measures are observed.
Absolutely, in some countries already there is massive disruption of supply chains. What can Kenyans with disabilities learn?
Disabled Kenyans and persons with chronic illnesses can’t stake their lives on the assumption that the availability of medications will remain stable in the coming weeks and
months. They need to be able to stock up now.

I opine that Disrupting treatment always endangers patients, but even more so in a pandemic.
The need for inpatient treatment will likely exceed capacity in many communities. this is because Kenya and other developing countries we still have weak health systems and inadequate health infrastructure. COVID-19 is expected to heavily tax the resources of the Kenyan health care system.
Will Kenya now revisit the Abuja declaration on Health Budgeting?
Further Than, outpatient clinics are likely to have a high number of patients
seeking treatment for COVID-19 symptoms, making avoidable visits risky for those more vulnerable to complications. Additionally, patients whose chronic
conditions are destabilized are in danger of becoming more severely ill if they are infected with COVID-19.
Water access:
In Kenya water access is a major challenge for all. Will the Kenya government break the cartels in the water industry to ensure water is readily available?
In Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu and other major towns its proven fact that many households go for several months without accessing running taps and forced to buy. According to UNICEF 40 per cent of the world’s population, or 3 billion people, do not have a handwashing facility with water and soap at home. Nearly three quarters of
the people in least developed countries lack basic handwashing facilities at home. Further, 47 per cent of schools lacked a handwashing facility with water and soap affecting 900 million school-age children. Over one third of schools worldwide
and half of schools in the least developed countries like Kenya have no place for children to wash their hands at all.
Forth factor nonvisual access:
Kenyans who are Blind or visually impaired do not have equal access to quantitative information including charts, graphs, and maps. For example, many of
us simply cannot perceive the data visualizations and dashboards that are regularly published by mainstream news organizations. As a result, we often have
limited or non-existent access to critical data, including information we aneed to make informed decisions pertaining to our work, finances and health. As
charts depicting the spread of Coronavirus and modelling how to flatten the curve are seen and discussed worldwide with Blind and visually impaired people
largely excluded from the conversation, we are starkly reminded that nonvisual access to data is vital to our equality and well-being.
The charts and graphics popularly known as “data visualizations” can – and should – be represented in formats that Blind and visually impaired Kenyans can
use.
Effects of COVID-19 on employment:
Centrally, my thoughts seem to be telling me a silent reasonable accommodation revolution in workplaces is being executed globally by Covid-19
as envisaged in the UNCRPD.
For instance, some tech companies Multinational like apple and google are demanding their employee to work at home. According to ILO 2017 with proper reasonable accommodations companies can benefit allot
This is to say that allowing employees to work remotely encourages more equality in the workforce by allowing more people with chronic illness and disabilities to participate and some studies show employees even report that they perform better in remote arrangements.
.
I believe working at home will assuaged persons with chronic illnesses and also individuals’ who are having low immunity.
Will the disability policy makers and employment gurus stakeholders rise to the occasion and present a reasonable accommodation legislation?
Now the people without disabilities we see your ableism tendencies being put in the right place
This shows implementation of disability related rights is possible. Should public and private sector await a catastrophe to implement disability laws?
It’s a fact that in Kenya after the road tragedy in 2002 by the Third president who was sworn on a wheelchair made the signing of the persons with disabilities act 2003.
Will public and private sectors reduce demand for office spaces?
Will public and private sectors in developing nations like Kenya adopt 24 hour economy by having there staff to work on shifts in order to avoid social contact?
Will companies in developing countries stop the analogue economy and switch to digitalization?
What does this mean to both employed and unemployed disabled?
What does COVID-19 mean to the almost 70 % of informal employment in Kenya who do not use digital devices?
All in all, we need disabled persons organizations to be engaged in advocacy on protecting people with disabilities from COVID-19 in both national and county levels.
This is by way of ensuring we have inclusive emergency plans and actions.

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.

The Deep Crises in the Kenyan disability sector Author Mugambi Paul.

Kenya is a country faced ultimately by many challenges as a developing nation.
Issues of disabled persons seem to be hanging in the Kenyan movie of activities.
No one or any institution seems to understand how to handle the first pace changes taking place in the global disability sector.
The disability sector seems to be blaming each other for the failures and the inadequacies felt by the wanjikus with disabilities.
Issues ranging from lack of representation in the building bridge initiative, lack of adequate data from the Kenyan bureau of statistics to delayed
Service delivery.
Let me not dwell on the Corana virus.
As a public policy scholar let be engrain me to the importance of collecting desegregated
data for disabled. Persons.
According to standard media, the release of additional census data by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) should be a wake-up call to policy makers in both the county and national governments. The numbers present valuable information on trends and patterns within the country’s demographic that should inform policy decisions and resource distribution
This was after the realise of the numbers byt the Kenya bureau of statistics. Unfortunately, for disabled person it was a bitter peal to take having lots of expectations.
The data presented seem to have reduced the numbers of persons with disabilities.
What happened?
The reality check indicates the lack of proper representation and lack of technical knowhow of disability data desegregation took place.
did the disability sector participate in the cycle of activities at the Kenya bureau of statistics?
The data released seems to be negative.
Reasons?
First application and training of the use of the Washington group of questioners was not properly conducted.
Secondly no pilot activity was done on how to collect disability desegregated data.
Thirdly the training of enumerators was a second thought.
Fourthly, were the organization of disabled persons involved in the process?

Facts for consideration:
It is well known. That
An estimated one billion people worldwide live with disabilities. Of the world’s poorest people, one in five live with disabilities.
Notable, in developing nations like Kenya conditions where we lack material resources as well as opportunities to exercise power, reach our full potential, and flourish in various aspects of life. (WHO and World Bank, 2011).
Globally, People with disabilities were not listed as a priority in the Millennium Development Goals. This is also true in the Kenyan context where disabled persons are not listed in the big 4 agenda. As a result, there is exclusion from many development initiatives, representing a lost opportunity to address the economic, educational, social, and health concerns of millions of the Kenyan’s most marginalized citizens (UN, 2011). In contrast, for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, United Nations member states pledged to leave no one behind, recognizing that development programming must be inclusive of people with disabilities.
Expected irreducible minimum:
To ensure disability-inclusive development, disability data must capture the degree to which society is inclusive in all aspects of life: work, school, family, transportation, and civic participation, inter alia. Disaggregating disability indicators will allow us to understand the quality of life of people with disabilities, towards developing programs and policies to address existing disparities.
Opportunity for Kenya disability movement:
Kenyan disability movement should stop board room meetings among themselves and join where the cake is being mashed and prepared.
At the Global Disability Summit in July 2018, the World Bank announced new commitments on disability desegregated data support to countries.
Specifically, the Bank pledged resources to strengthen disability data by scaling up disability data collection and use, guided by global standards and best practices.
This commitment is aligned with the World Bank’s October 2015 pledge to support the 78 poorest countries in conducting household surveys every three years. Regular household surveys are an excellent option for disability measurement, as they can be stratified to oversample people who are more likely to experience limited participation in society. In multi-topic household surveys, disability data can be collected along with other socioeconomic data, enabling a richer analysis of the experiences of people with disabilities. Finally, regular household survey programs can measure the change over time and space in key indicators such as the frequency of types of disability, severity of disability, quality of life, opportunities and participation of people with disabilities, and rehabilitation needs. For example, the recently launched 50×30 initiative may offer a good opportunity to collect disaggregated farm- and rural-related indicators by disability status
The Kenyan disability sector should stop ghetorization of disability issues and we shall realize real mainstreaming when we speak to where barriers exist.
It is encouraging that more disabled persons in the social media are demanding a specific census for persons with disabilities.
Weather this will be executed time will tell.
All in all, we need a model survey for disabled persons in order to have proper planning and ensure we get the Kenyan national cake.

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.

Will you Be my Valentine? “Tips for an extra special day with your blind partner” Author Mugambi Paul

Friendship, love, and romance are in the air with Valentine’s Day in Nairobi..

Whether you’re on your first date, or it’s your tenth with your true love, planning the right date night, getting the right flowers, a gift, dinner reservations,
etc can be a bit stressful.

And you may imagine that going on a first date with someone who is blind or visually impaired can even be more awkward.

But in reality, going on a date with someone who is blind or low vision is no different than dating any other person.

Here are a few tips for sighted companions or partners to help make your date memorable.

#1 Sighted Guide

Consent is key! Once you’ve selected a place, made a reservation or planned an activity, don’t forget to brush up on your sighted guide technique.

There is an etiquette to offering sighted guide assistance to a blind person. Always ask first, don’t grab or push.

Now a days I combine my White cane experience with Sunu Band
to navigate indoor spaces like restaurants and cafes. Moreover, it has aided me with the line like at theaters, so I know when it’s my turn to move up in the queue.

The Sunu Band is also great for when you are doing a sighted guide as the blind or low vision person being guided retains awareness and more control.

#2 Be descriptive

But not overly so – allow your partner the chance to soak in the ambiance.

Now that you’ve arrived at that fancy, romantic restaurant or place, offer a lite description of where you are to your partner.

Allow your blind partner the chance to ask about his/or her surroundings.

#3 Don’t just read the menu

make it conversation instead of reading a list.
You know Nairobi hotels and restaurant do not offer braille, or large print menus, you have to check with your partner their preference.

If those aren’t available, you can start by asking what are they’re in the mood for drink and food? If it’s a place you know well, make a recommendation
or mention the specialty of the house.

But whatever you do, don’t order or speak for your blind or low vision partner. Especially, don’t allow waiters or staff to ask you to speak for your blind
partner.

In the event it happens, tell your waiter to direct the question or comment to your partner.

#4 Table manners are still king

And throw away the messy stereotypes. Enjoying a meal with someone who is blind or low vision is just like eating or drinking with anyone else. Again being
a little bit more descriptive is good.

When the meal arrives, you may offer a quick description of where things are on the table. For example, your wine glass is to your left or at your 9 O’clock.
Sometimes using the clock reference is helpful.

Remember, don’t overdo it and stress about the vision impairment. Just be yourself and enjoy each other’s company through great conversation, drinks, and
food. At the end of the date, the most important thing is that you both have fun.

Additionally, everyday should be a valentine.
You should even practise self-love.
Self-love means allowing yourself to be happy. Too often, we manipulate ourselves instead of increasing the amount of joy we bring to our lives.

So, every day, do things that make you feel good. Even 10 minutes of self-care can add up and make you feel much better in the long run. But you’re worth
more than 10 minutes. You are the most crucial person in your life. Act, accordingly, show love, and be open to receive love.
All in all, do things that fulfill your soul. Get rid of people who don’t make you feel good.
What others say or think about you has nothing to do with reality. It’s just their perception.

Sure, we’d all like to be around people who are kind and loving, but the harsh reality is that rudeness exists. Yet, it doesn’t need to affect you and
especially not your wellbeing.

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.