Persons with disabilities call for accessible ICT equipment

RWANDA: The National Council of Persons with Disabilities (NCPD) will soon embark on an advocacy campaign to agitate for the welfare of persons with disabilities through increased access to technology based services.

The remarks were made by the Executive Secretary of NCPD, Emmanuel Ndayisaba, at the launch of the Disability Week, ahead of the International Day for Persons with Disabilities due on December 3.

Ndayisaba said technology is crucial for development in today’s world, hence the need for persons with disabilities to get easy access to it.

“Technology is no longer a luxury. If someone is locked out of it, they are left behind. That’s why we want to get persons with disabilities catered for in the rollout of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the country,” Ndayisaba said.

“The braille facilities are not readily available, while mobile money transfer systems and other transaction devices are not user-friendly,” Ndayisaba said.

He said NCPD will work closely with telecommunication companies and banks to develop ways of how persons with disabilities can easily access mobile financial services.

“It would be interesting to see Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) becoming accessible for people who are blind. If such facilities had voice commands, it would be easy for the blind to follow them and also enjoy self-service in financial transactions,” he said.

Dr Alvera Mukabaramba, the Minister of State for Social Affairs, said the government is committed to helping persons with disabilities to live comfortably.

“The initiative of working in cooperatives for persons with disabilities is yielding good results. The government is carrying out a study that should be completed by the end of the year, which will present the true picture of various disabilities in the country and how they can be helped,” she said.

The minister said the government had deployed doctors as part of the study to ascertain the level of disabilities.

NCPD says the current figures from the 2012 census show that there are 446,000 persons with disabilities in the country but that the disability criteria were not clear in some cases.

Mukabaramba said some people were wrongly categorised as disabled yet they had curable diseases.

She said depending on the progress made in the ongoing study, the number is not likely to be more than 200,000.

NCPD said there are 118 cooperatives of the disabled across the country.

The Disability Week, scheduled for November 24 to December 8, will consist of various activities including study visits to ICT-based companies and Rwanda Library Services and community work at Jyamubandi Mwana School for the Disabled located in Jabana Sector, Gasabo District.

At the launch of the Week, Bralirwa offered 48 weaving machines worth Rwf50 million to help persons with disabilities, which Jonathan Hall, the brewery’s Managing Director said will help them generate income.

Source: NewTimes

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