Innovate solution to challenges facing disabled persons – stakeholders urge
There is an urgent need for Kenyans to devise solutions to challenges faced by disabled persons in their day-to-day activities for them to live decent lives.
Speaking during a disability awareness forum organized by Zetech University, education, humanitarian organizations representatives among other stakeholders rooted for inclusiveness of disabled persons in educational institutions and workplaces for them to feel being part of the nation builders.
The stakeholders, led by Samchi Group Human Resource Manager Ms. Rosemary Wambui said that students and staff in institutions of higher learning especially have a major role to play in fighting the stigma around disability so that more disability- inclusive professionals are channeled into workplaces.
“The change begins from here and students alongside staff have a front role of ensuring that persons who are abled differently are part of the society. This can be achieved by including them in every school activity and helping them to enhance their capabilities so that they can also be adopted in the current job market without struggles,” said Wambui.
On her part, CEO People Link Consultants, Ms. Goretti Kimani affirmed that adopting disability inclusive terms and languages helps dignify the PWDs and also improve familiarity with a disability inclusive language.
Zetech University Vice Chancellor Professor Njenga Munene pointed out the need to continue supporting the local community by engaging in activities that help improve their status in the community.
He said that the university has been in the forefront in innovating solutions to help disabled persons live meaningful lives adding that the private university has a disability mainstreaming policy that provides a framework for identifying and removing any structural, organizational, physical, and attitudinal barriers which exist for persons with disabilities using our facilities.
“Zetech University is on a journey to becoming a disability inclusive institution, where all students will be able to invent their future from a level playing field. One of our innovators, founder and CEO TotoSci Holding limited; Anthony Muthungu invented the intelligent Alexcane to enhance convenience among visually impaired people, and this is just the beginning. As an institution whose stronghold is ICT and innovation, this is just the beginning. We are on a journey to ensure that the University practices and facilities are not intentionally or involuntarily discriminatory, or present unnecessary barriers to students and staff with disabilities,” he said.
According to the 2019 census, about 0.9 million Kenyans are living with some form of disability, and 0.7 million of them live in rural areas.
The Country Director Light for the World, Mr. Stephen Njenga noted that the youth have a critical role in enhancing disability inclusivity from their institutions of learning and at the workplaces.
“The youth have the power to make Kenya a disability inclusive country. I encourage you to create lasting accessibility to people living with disability instead of just accommodating them to ensure a long-lasting impact. You can achieve this through coming up with innovations, developments and products that are user-friendly for people with disability and without,” noted Njenga.
Director at the Directorate of Disability Services Kenyatta University, Dr. Mbugua Wa Mungainoted that the inaugural disability awareness event by Zetech University was a wake-up call to institutions of higher learning, to develop and maintain the culture of disability inclusion to ensure that all students get access to quality education whether they have a disability or not.
“I would like to commend Professor Njenga Munene for ensuring that the University also has a well-equipped Counselling Department. Mental wellness is very critical when handling PWDs in that it provides a comprehensive support, especially to new students to help them get a sense of belonging and blend in the University, Dr. Mbugua remarked.
Member of United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) committee of Experts, Dr. Samuel Kabue commended the Zetech student leadership for being at the forefront of disability inclusion. “The student leadership at Zetech University is doing a commendable job in championing disability inclusion and ensuring that students with disability have their needs taken care of’, said Dr. Kabue.
The panelists discussing disability inclusion in the workplaces and institutions encouraged students to reflect on the language used when addressing PWDs, as this helps encourage inclusivity and end stigma