Innovative Competence Network for E-Inclusion and Assistive Technologies: The Kenya and Zimbabwe Experience

Authors : Amos C. Kirongo*, Benjamin Aigner, Guyo S. Huka, and Christoph Veigl

Information and Communication Technology (ICT)-based Assistive Tools allow individuals with even severe disabilities to learn, work in a well-paid job and participate in social activities. However, suitable Assistive Tools are often not available or hardly affordable to people with low income, especially in countries of the Global South. In order to address these challenges, Meru University of Science and Technology Kenya, University of Harare – Zimbabwe and the University of Applied Sciences Technikum Wien established various resources in the sector of Assistive Technology, including various open source designs for alternative computer input solutions. These resources will be exchanged and applied under the planned Competence Network for e-Inclusion and Assistive Technology (CNEAT) program. The aim of the program is to establish dedicated centres to share knowledge, tools and best-practice models for affordable Assistive Technology and its application. A delegation of the Meru University of Science and Technology and the University of Applied Sciences Technikum Wien visited Schools with persons with disabilities in Kenya at Igoji Small Home, Kaaga School for the Mentally Handicapped and Athi Special School in Meru County. Secondary and primary information regarding these Centres were studied and analyzed. The findings from the site visits identified the lack of resources that exist in these schools. Assistive Technologies and solutions be co-created, and provided on demand, to persons with disabilities, raising their self-efficiency and contributing to the reduction of poverty in the region. Further, Assistive Technology solutions would catalyze development and human wellness by addressing the indigenous knowledge and customs for continued decolonization of approaches to human resource development.
Keywords: Assistive Technologies, Human Wellness, Assistive Tools, e-Inclusion, Decolonization

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About the Author: Amos Chege

I am currently a PhD. Computer Science student with a research interest in the area of Image Processing, machine learning, and data mining. My PhD. proposed work is based on development of Algorithms that will result in the creation of solutions for farmers faced with challenges on detection of a variety of plan stresses and remedying the challenges through Technology. In the area of Assistive Technologies, my research team and I have done research work in the area of Competence Network for e-Inclusion and Assistive Technologies. The research team from University of Applied Sciences Austria and Meru University of Science and Technology Kenya, managed to attract seed fund, and conducted a pilot study. The study was based in Meru County in Kenya where we were able to identify the need for Information Communications Technology (ICT) Assistive Devices for Special school Learners with Physical Disability. The gap identified will lead to design and roll-out of Innovative technologies that will enable learners in Special Schools access learning content electronically and be able to learn like other children. Findings of this study were presented during the 10th Decolonizing the Spirit Conference in University of Embu in July 2016. In the area of Open Government Data, together with my co-authors, we succeeded in proposing a model for integration of Open Government Data to Content Management Systems in Kenya. The research findings have been presented during the Nairobi Innovation Week Research Symposium at the University of Nairobi in March 2017. During the 11th Egerton University's International Conference and Innovation Week, held in March 2017, we were awarded the Best Paper Presentation in the category of Governance, Law and Security. We have proposed a model for adoption of Open Government Data in Kenya. In the area of Electronic Learning, we have done with my co-authors research in the areas of eLearning adoption and use in Institutions of Higher Learning and presented in the KEMU 2016 Annual Research Conference We have also done papers on Electronic waste management and disposal and presented in the International Conference on University - Industry Linkages held in Meru University of Science and Technology in October 2017. Currently ongoing research interests are in the area of Image Processing, Assistive technologies, Open Government Data, Enterprise Resource Planning adoption initiatives, Information Systems Risks and Security, and Remote Sensing in Turbidity Measurement in Water.

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