IGF 2022 Town Hall #36 Accessibility Standards a catalyst to Inclusivity

Wednesday, 30th November, 2022 (06:30 UTC) - Wednesday, 30th November, 2022 (07:30 UTC)
Large Briefing Room

Panel - Auditorium - 60 Min


Equitable access to digital infrastructure has never been more important. Technology has proved to be a very useful and necessary tool to provide essential public services during the global pandemic. The response to COVID-19 highlights the important role ICT plays in fostering inclusive, just, and fair societies. It has also brought to light that digital divides are affecting people’s access to economic opportunities and inclusion in their communities. To bridge the digital divide, local and regional governments need to adequately understand the gaps and needs of their ecosystem through inclusive initiatives. This is because digital technology has the transformative potential to maintain a functioning economy and allow people to access the basic services and products needed for everyday life, such as education, health, work, and culture during this time of the pandemic. The application of digital technologies must therefore be responsive and inclusive of all members of the population. While digital technologies are increasingly integrating into every aspect of our lives and have become a positive force for innovation, across the globe, persons with disabilities are still marginalized and face significant barriers to the access and use of these technologies. These hindrances reduce their opportunities in the labor market and diminish their potential for independent living. For an inclusive digital and innovation ecosystem to be realized, countries need to make deliberate efforts to (1) improve digital accessibility, (2) make it easier for anyone to see, hear, and use a digital device, and (3) to enable the user to customize their digital environment according to their preferences, needs, and abilities. Kenya has ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Article 9 of the CRPD requires State Parties, “to ensure persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications, including information and communications technologies and systems.” However, for this policy to play a key role in creating an enabling digital and innovation ecosystem and realize the full potential of Kenya’s digital economy, there is an urgent need for the creation of standard guidelines to operationalize the policy. A first step in the right direction has been undertaken with the Kenyan Digital Economy Blueprint, which identifies the accessibility of ICT services for persons with disabilities as a crosscutting issue relevant to all five pillars of the strategy. The Blueprint states, “The Government must take measures to ensure that digital services are accessible by visually and hearing-impaired persons”. More concretely, under the strategy’s innovation-driven entrepreneurship pillar, it highlights the importance of an “accessible, inclusive and collaborative innovation ecosystem that supports entrepreneurship at all levels.” For the Government of Kenya to operationalize its commitment to an inclusive digital and innovation ecosystem as stipulated in the Digital Economy Blueprint, universal design for digital tools will be essential. Universal design means the mainstreaming of products and/or services that are accessible to, and usable by, as many people as reasonably possible, in a wide variety of situations and to the greatest extent possible without the need for special adaptation or specialized design. Universal design is the key stepping-stone toward the realization of an inclusive innovation-driven entrepreneurship environment that supports disruptive technologies in Kenya and Africa as a whole. Policy Questions The key policy questions of the panel are: a) How are PWDS within Africa leveraging on ICT to access products and services to improve their livelihood? b) What are some of the challenges faced by PWDS within Africa while using ICT to access products and services? c) What are existing interventions by respective governments to mitigate the challenges faced by PWDS within Africa on the accessibility of ICT products and services? What suggestions can you make for the interventions to be more inclusive? Expected Outcomes (Please provide the session's expected outcomes and any specific outputs (e.g. publications, or follow-up events or processes) you expect the session to produce or feed into). This panel will contribute to the following themes of IGF 2022: • Connecting All People and Safeguarding Human Rights Outputs • Shared experience by and anticipated impact of the new Kenya Standard KS2952:2022, on Accessibility of Products and Services.

Yes, participation will be both online and offline. We will use include a live transmission for participants to interact through the zoom link. We also incorporate breakout sessions.


inABLE Communication Authority of Kenya Kenya Buerue of Standards. Information and Communication Technology Authority of Kenya GIZ


Irene Kirika - inABLE Julius Mbura - inABLE Derick Khamali - Communication Authority of Kenya Zacharia Lukorito - Kenya Buerue of Standards. Francis Mwaura - Information Communication Technology Authority of Kenya

Onsite Moderator

George Siso

Online Moderator

Mutembei Kariuki


Regina Musau



Targets: 4.4 4.5 16.6 16.10 17.13 17.14 17.17