UNESCO organizes training on inclusive publishing and web accessibility in Kenya

UNESCO, in partnership with stakeholders in the education sector in Kenya, organized a five-day training on Inclusive publishing and web accessibility from 9 to 13 November 2015 in Nairobi, Kenya. The training focused on persons with disabilities, especially the visually impaired and those with hearing impairment. The main aim of the training was to prepare education stakeholders to ensure equal access to digital educational materials.

The training attracted 35 participants (comprising 20 men and 15 women), three of which were visually impaired. The participants were drawn from the Ministry of Education Science and Technology, specifically under the National ICT and Innovation Centre (NI3C), Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD), ICT Authority, Inable Africa and Kenya Institute for Special Education (KISE).  Marina Patrier, UNESCO’s Education Programme Specialist, spoke to the participants on the first day of the training saying that UNESCO is totally committed to ensuring everyone is able to read in the digital age.

During the workshop participants were provided with an overview of the lack of access to information by the disabled: according to recent WHO estimates, 10% of each country’s population has a particular disability. The trainer Prashant Verma highlighted that only 0.5% of published information is available in accessible formats. This is why Kenya should campaign for better access to information so as to have equal and open access to knowledge, without which the right to education is denied.

Participants were able to interact with the facilitators and each other as they practiced use of the speech-to-text technology that enables persons with visual impairment to read on their phones and computers. It was also noted that visually impaired persons can access the computers well by using the keyboard as opposed to using the mouse. Participants also had the opportunity to look at various web accessibility features that are friendly to persons with disability.

The third day of the workshop introduced participants to various types of software for creating science and mathematics content. Participants were encouraged to always have the interest of the learners with disabilities in mind when creating or publishing content. All those present at the workshop also had the opportunity to carry out exercises to ensure they were fully acquainted with the technologies presented.  On the last day of the training, participants were able to do presentations of various exercises such as converting books’ content into accessible formats.

The training ended on Friday 13 November 2015. In a short closing ceremony, John Temba, from the Ministry of Education Science and Technology, said: “We are grateful to UNESCO for this opportunity; I also thank the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development for mobilizing all stakeholders so as to cater for the needs of persons with disabilities. I will ensure that the Kenya Institute of Special Education is also actively involved so that learners with disabilities can open and freely access digital information.”

To reiterate the commitment of Kenyan’s government to ensure access to information for all, John Kimotho, from the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD), said: “I am grateful that my staff has been equipped with all the relevant knowledge. We will ensure that our already published digital content is modified so as to incorporate features that will enable persons with disabilities to access the information.”

This training took place within the framework of UNESCO’S programme promoting universal access to information and knowledge, and ICT accessibility including for the disabled, and for all languages.