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Reprieve for Persons with Disabilities as Kenya Gazettes ICT inclusivity Products, Services

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By Shadrack Nyakoe

The Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) in partnership with inABLE will launch the first-ever Kenya Standards (KS 2952-1:2022 Kenya Standard — Accessibility-ICT products and services — Part 1-Requirements, First Edition and KS 2952-2:2022 Kenya Standard — Accessibility-ICT products and services — Part 2 –Conformance, First Edition) in Africa at the Inclusive Africa Conference scheduled on 25th May, 2022. 

The new standard, gazetted on 13th May 2022 is set to ensure that Public and Private sector digital products and services are accessible to Persons with Disabilities (PWD’s), older persons largely disconnected from most e-government services, and business owned digital platforms.

Speaking during the event, Prof. Margaret Kobia, PHD, EGH, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Public Service said, “I am pleased to note that today we witness yet another milestone in our Country’s quest for disability inclusion. This is the launch of the Kenya Standard (KS ISO 2952) on Accessibility for ICT Products and Services for persons with disabilities. This launch makes Kenya the first country in Africa to develop a digital accessibility standard for persons with disabilities. The standard provides a framework for gauging and ensuring public ICT products and services are sensitive to the needs of persons with disabilities.

The standards, prepared by the Joint Working Group on Accessibility of ICT Products and Services for Persons with Disabilities under the guidance of the Standards Projects Committee of the Kenya Bureau of Standards. Policy makers, regulators, providers, procurers and users of ICT products and services are the intended users of this standard. The development of these standards is in response to the National Information, Communications and Technology (ICT) Policy of Kenya of 2020.

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 Lt Col (Rtd.) Bernard Njiraini, KEBS Managing Director, stated, “To accommodate all people in the society, inclusive design and universal design principles should be integrated into digital products and service.”

“KEBS congratulates all of the industry partners and stakeholders who worked efficiently and collaboratively to develop clear standards to inform the implementation framework on the inclusion of persons with disabilities, including enhanced access to ICTs, products and services,” added Njiraini. 

 According to Irene Mbari-Kirika, inABLE Executive Director, “the Standards for Accessibility- ICT Products and Services is a game changer for public and private organizations who must now prioritize digital accessibility compliance to ensure that everyone, especially PWDs, can access their websites, mobile applications, and other digital resources.”

 The Standards specifies the functional accessibility requirements applicable to ICT products and services covering requirements and conformance both software and hardware as well as services are covered and intended for use with web-based, non-web and hybrid technologies.

The KS 2952 comprises a series of standards that range from Accessibility ― ICT Products and Services: Part 1, Requirements and Part 2, Conformance. Part 1 of this standard contains the necessary functional requirements and provides a reference document such that if different actors follow procedures, the results of testing are similar and the interpretation of those results is clear.  Part 2 of this standard provides determination of conformance with the individual requirements given in part 1.

The test descriptions and evaluation methodology elaborates a level of detailed compliant with ISO/IEC 17007, so that conformance testing can give conclusive results. KS 2952 sets out in a single source, detailed, practical and quantifiable functional accessibility requirements and conformance that take note of global initiatives in that field and, which are applicable to all Information and Communication Technology (ICT) products and services identified usable in public procurement.

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The development and implementation of these standards is in line with global trend of technology that makes it possible for people to achieve more. Assistive Technology (AT) is widely adopted to ensure that Persons with Disabilities are able to access products and services. The combination of accessible ICT and AT enhances function, independence and overall wellbeing of Persons with Disabilities.

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