Accord­ing to the World Health Orga­ni­za­tion (WHO), an esti­mat­ed 2.2 bil­lion peo­ple world­wide suf­fer from some form of visu­al impair­ment, and in near­ly half of those, vision impair­ment could have been pre­vent­ed. The lead­ing caus­es of vision impair­ment and blind­ness world­wide are uncor­rect­ed refrac­tive errors and cataracts.With the ris­ing bur­den of non-com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases like dia­betes, blind­ness due to dia­bet­ic neu­ropa­thy has been increas­ing steadi­ly in the last two decades. 

Octo­ber is the World Blind­ness Aware­ness Month, estab­lished to high­light  the real­i­ties of liv­ing with­out sight while point­ing out the chal­lenges of visu­al impair­ment, approach­es to  main­tain­ing eye health and actions that can be tak­en to improve the qual­i­ty of life for per­sons with visu­al impair­ments and ensure they live to their full poten­tial. Octo­ber is a good time to reflect on how vision loss affects our lives and those of the peo­ple around us and dis­cuss how we can make it bet­ter as a soci­ety. 

Tech­no­log­i­cal advances con­tin­ue to be lever­aged in many spheres to improve health and the gen­er­al qual­i­ty of life. For visu­al­ly impared per­sons, these could include assis­tive tech­nolo­gies and oth­er solu­tions that are built to serve their needs as well. We must also con­sid­er how tech­nol­o­gy can help those with visu­al impair­ments, whether they are par­tial or total. Tech­nol­o­gy that ensures inclu­siv­i­ty of peo­ple suf­fer­ing from blind­ness and oth­er vision impair­ments will empow­er peo­ple suf­fer­ing from blind­ness and low vision with the abil­i­ty to inde­pen­dent­ly nav­i­gate their envi­ron­ment, inter­act with oth­ers, and par­tic­i­pate in all aspects of life. The first step towards inclu­sive tech­nol­o­gy is to remove the obsta­cles that make it dif­fi­cult for peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties to use devices. This includes mak­ing sure that our mobile apps are com­pat­i­ble with screen read­ers, which pro­vide alter­na­tive text, and/or con­vert text on a com­put­er screen into speech or braille.

Pro­mot­ing Inclu­sion 

Inclu­sive and acces­si­ble design is an approach that enables peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties to use tech­nol­o­gy and par­tic­i­pate ful­ly in soci­ety. It means design­ing prod­ucts, ser­vices and envi­ron­ments so they are usable by every­one. The Prin­ci­ples for Dig­i­tal Devel­op­ment (the “Dig­i­tal Prin­ci­ples”) are a liv­ing set of guide­lines that assist donors and imple­ment­ing part­ners in incor­po­rat­ing dig­i­tal tech­nol­o­gy into devel­op­ment and human­i­tar­i­an assis­tance ini­tia­tives. These prin­ci­ples and approach­es to uni­ver­sal and acces­si­ble design aim at ‘Leav­ing No one Behind’ as part of efforts to make the Inter­net more inclu­sive. 

The dig­i­tal prin­ci­ples were stew­ard­ed by Dig­i­tal Impact Alliance (DIAL) and are intend­ed for use by gov­ern­ments, busi­ness­es, civ­il soci­ety orga­ni­za­tions and oth­ers who are design­ing or imple­ment­ing poli­cies or pro­grams that pro­mote access to dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies for all peo­ple. The Prin­ci­ples for Dig­i­tal Devel­op­ment are now endorsed by more than 250 orga­ni­za­tions, and Intel­liSOFT is rec­og­nized as a Gold endors­er of the Dig­i­tal Prin­ci­ples. 

Intel­liSOFT has estab­lished a con­sor­tium known as the Uwe­zo wa Diji­ti Kenya (UWADI-KE) which is an acronym in Swahili that lit­er­al­ly trans­lates to “Capa­bil­i­ty of dig­i­tal”. The con­sor­tium con­sists of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Nairobi’s Depart­ment of Com­put­ing and Infor­mat­ics and AuraSafi­ra. 

Cen­tered on inclu­sive inno­va­tion that aims to leave no one behind, at Intel­liSOFT,we are com­mit­ted to ensur­ing that our prod­ucts and ser­vices are acces­si­ble to peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties (PWDs) includ­ing those with impared vision. To improve inclu­siv­i­ty and acces­si­bil­i­ty for peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties, Intel­liSOFT is work­ing with the Uni­ver­si­ty of Nairo­bi and the Kenya Soci­ety for the Blind to cre­ate a Learn­ing Man­age­ment Sys­tem (LMS) that can merge tech­ni­cal solu­tions, acces­si­bil­i­ty guide­lines, and uni­ver­sal design. 

The UWADI-KE ini­tia­tive places great empha­sis on acces­si­bil­i­ty and dig­i­tal inclu­sion for PWDs, and aims to offer a plat­form for con­ver­sa­tion and co-cre­ation. UWADI-KE encour­ages the prac­ti­cal appli­ca­tion of the dig­i­tal prin­ci­ples, with par­tic­u­lar empha­sis on the first prin­ci­ple: Design with the user .This is intend­ed to pro­vide improved project devel­op­ment and imple­men­ta­tion infor­ma­tion for tools and sys­tems that include PWDs, ulti­mate­ly pro­mot­ing inclu­sion.

#blind­nes­saware­ness

 

Categories: World Health Days

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