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Kenya gazettes digitally inclusive products for PWDs

The Kenya Bureau of Standards  (KEBS) in partnership with inABLE has launched the first-ever Kenya Standards (KS 2952-1:2022) on accessibility for ICT products and services for persons with disabilities in Africa at the Inclusive Africa Conference.

The new standard, gazetted on May 13, 2022 is set to ensure that Public and Private sector digital products and services are accessible to Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), older persons largely disconnected from most e-government services, and business owned digital platforms.

Speaking during the event at the Nairobi hotel, Ministry of Public Service, Gender, Senior Citizens Affairs and Special Programmes Cabinet Secretary Margaret Kobia said, “I am pleased to note that today we witness yet another milestone in our country’s quest for disability inclusion. This is the launch of the Kenya Standard (KS ISO 2952) on Accessibility for ICT Products and Services for persons with disabilities.”

Cabinet Secretary for Public Services, Youth and Gender Affairs, Prof.Margaret Kobia, (R), Chief Administrative Secretary for ICT and Broadcasting, Maureen Mbaka (L), and Founder and Executive Director, inABLE (Kenya USA), Irene Mbari-Kirika (C) during the official Launch of The First-ever National ICT Accessibility Standard for Products and Services in Africa on Wednesday, May 25, 2022 at Trademark Hotel, Nairobi. Photo by Widen Ratemo

Kobia said that the launch makes Kenya the first country in Africa to develop a digital accessibility standard for persons living with disabilities with the standard providing a framework for gauging and ensuring public ICT products and services are sensitive to the needs of persons with disabilities.

“To accommodate all people in the society, inclusive design and universal design principles should be integrated into digital products and service,” KEBS Managing Director Lt Col (Rtd.) Bernard Njiraini stated.

“KEBS congratulates all of the industry partners and stakeholders who worked efficiently and collaboratively to develop clear standards to inform the implementation framework on the inclusion of persons with disabilities, including enhanced access to ICTs, products and services,” added Njiraini.

According to Executive Director Irene Mbari-Kirika, inABLE “the Standards for Accessibility- ICT Products and Services is a game changer for public and private organizations who must now prioritize digital accessibility compliance to ensure that everyone, especially PWDs, can access their websites, mobile applications, and other digital resources”.

The Standards specifies the functional accessibility requirements applicable to ICT products and services covering requirements and conformance both software and hardware as well as services are covered and intended for use with web-based, non-web and hybrid technologies.

The development and implementation of these standards is in line with global trend of technology that makes it possible for people to achieve more. Assistive Technology (AT) is widely adopted to ensure that Persons with Disabilities are able to access products and services. The combination of accessible ICT and AT enhances function, independence and overall wellbeing of Persons with Disabilities.

By Hamdi Mohamud

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