The 3rd of December every year is recognized by the United Nations as the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This year’s theme for the day is “Transformative Solutions for Inclusive Development: the Role of Innovation in Fueling an Accessible and Equitable World.” Kenyatta University is proud to recognize all persons with disabilities within and outside the institution, and their various roles in society.
Our goal as an institution of higher education is to provide knowledge and promote social interaction in order to help in the realization of individual and collective aspirations, shape futures, transform and enhance lives.
In line with our philosophy, and in responsiveness to societal needs and the right of every person to knowledge, Kenyatta University has continuously supported learners with diverse disabilities. Amongst higher education institutions in Kenya, Kenyatta University has since inception admitted and trained the largest number of students with disabilities, many of whom have gone on to render sterling public service. Currently we have 120 such students, a majority of whom have physical and visual disabilities; more students with hearing impairment have been enrolling because of the sign language interpretation services we offer at the University.
The University has adopted the use of assistive technologies such as Orbit Readers and Talking Scientific Calculators for visually impaired learners. The University Library has a specialized section, with specialized IT equipment, where students with special needs are attended to by trained staff, and Screen Reader software is availed to students who need it. In order to avail information to all members of the community, the University Library has been working within the framework of the Marrakesh Treaty to avail educational materials in alternative format so that blind users can access it. At the same time, the ICT Directorate is working to make all communication accessible in line with the Kenya Standard (KS ISO 2952) on Accessibility for ICT Products and Services for persons with disabilities.
Our continuous process of improving and maintaining the accessibility of the University’s built and digital environment, as well as providing a transport service within campus for students with disabilities, is part of our commitment to achieving an inclusive society. In addition, there are Disability Mainstreaming Champions in all departments and sections working to see that all individuals with disabilities get accommodation for their various needs
Recognizing that work is important in everyone’s life, Kenyatta University has employed a significant number of persons with disabilities, of whom there are 63 at present. This is a step in the right direction given that workplaces should not only be diverse but also inclusive. Further, Kenyatta University has a partnership with the National Council for Persons with Disabilities which gives the University access to their digital employment portal NCPWD Fuzu which links employers with qualified jobseekers with disabilities who are registered on the platform. The University also engages directly with corporate organizations to secure placement for our students. Employment of persons with disabilities promotes first-hand interaction with colleagues with and without disabilities, which helps to demystify myths and misconceptions about persons with disabilities.
Technology has greatly transformed how we deliver interventions at the University. At present we are exploring the use of digital technology that allows deaf learners to hail a sign language interpreter with subject specialization, thereby eliminating the need for having an interpreter physically present. It is necessary that we continue exploring ways through which Assistive Device innovations can enable access to education as well as social-economic opportunities for persons with disabilities. By continuously innovating technologies and soft skills approaches to serve the needs of persons with disabilities, we shall all enrich our collective human experience.
Prof. Paul K. Wainaina, Ph.D.
Kenyatta University, Thika Road Main Campus
P.O. Box 43844 - 00100, NAIROBI