Mobile as AT Kenya

Global Disability Innovation Hub, Harrison Kamau
Feb. 28, 2024

Smartphones with internet connectivity can transform the lives of persons with disabilities. They can play a pivotal role in ensuring that persons with disabilities thrive by creating access to information, education, and employment opportunities that might otherwise be out of reach. Smartphones act as both enablers to using digital assistive technologies, and assistive technologies themselves. For example, a person with a visual impairment can use an application such as BlindSquare to receive relevant information about their surroundings in order to locate shops or other places of interest.

Other applications can understand slurred speech and translate to text, while read-aloud software can make websites accessible. However, most persons with disabilities do not have access to a smartphone or get the training in digital skills necessary to be able to maximize their phone use, especially in low-and middle-income countries. GDI Hub, ATscale and Google want to change this so that more people can live more productive and independent lives than before and are undertaking an exciting study in Kenya, India and Brazil with 800 participants who have received smartphones and training.

The study will explore what it will take to make smartphones more accessible, affordable and effective to meet the needs of persons with disabilities, including accessing and using accessibility features already built into smartphones within the context of low and middle-income countries. Initial evidence on the ways in which smartphones are both an enabler in people’s lives, and a piece of assistive technology with the potential to replace older forms of stand-alone assistive technology will be shared.

The video below shares the story of Felista Kasina and John Mwangi two visually Impaired individuals navigating life through their smartphones and google softwares.