6 Organizations Advocating for Persons With Sensory Disabilities in Kenya
Sensory disabilities commonly refer to disabilities related to hearing and eyesight. Several organizations in Kenya advocate for the rights of persons with sensory disabilities.
Kenya Society for the Blind (KSB)
Established in 1956 through Act of Parliament Cap 251 of the laws of Kenya (Revised 2012), KSB has the mandate to serve Kenyans who are visually impaired or those at risk of developing visual impairment.
The Society’s objective is to create “an environment that encourages the inclusion of the visually impaired persons in the society and promotes the prevention of avoidable blindness.”
KSB's responsibilities include preventing blindness and promoting the welfare, education, training, and rehabilitation of visually-impaired persons (PWVI). KSB also acts as the liaison between the government and PWVIs and strives to stir the public's interest in matters relating to them.
KSB is also the implementing body of the Kenya Integrated Education Programme (KIEP), a partnership that includes the Ministry of Education and other partners. KIEP supports the education of learners with visual impairments in 22 counties, targeting at least 2500 children. The support includes assistive devices such as braille machines, braille papers, white canes for the learners, and braille training for the teachers.
KSB also partners with the Ministry of Health and other stakeholders in the Kenya Ophthalmic Programme (KOP) to reduce incidences of preventive visual impairment in the country. KSB achieves this by providing preventive and curative eye care by integrating eye care into the country's health care system.
Kenya Union of the Blind (KUB)
Established in 1960 through the Societies’ Ordinance Act of 1952 of the Colony & Protectorate of Kenya, KUB is the country's national organization for visually-impaired persons.
The 52-year- old organization strives to "promote the social inclusion of persons with visual impairments through uniting and empowering them and advocating for their rights." In this endeavor, the Association hopes to contribute to "a barrier-free society in which persons with visual impairments enjoy full and equal opportunities."
Among the values that the Nairobi-based agency operates on include human dignity, equal opportunities, social responsibility, the rule of law, teamwork, and organizational ethics. Its priority areas include capacity building, accessibility, human rights and representation, and information sharing and collaboration.
Towards improving the capacity of persons with visual impairments, KUB runs various programs such as Blind Children Education Support, Blind Sports, Arts & Talent Promotions, and Blind Sports, Arts & Talent Promotions. Others include advocacy, IT Technologies Training Programs, Economic Empowerment Programs, and Blind Youth Mentorship Programs.
Kenya Institute for the Blind (KIB)
Established in 1968 as the East African regional office for the Hadley International School of America, KIB became an institution under the Ministry of Education in 2004. In 2004, the Ministry registered KIB as a National Braille Resource Center for persons with visual impairments.
The Institute's objectives include establishing and managing a Braille printing press to produce learning, leisure, and teaching materials. The Institute also aims to establish an archive containing learning materials for PWVI and produce large print materials for this group of people. In addition, KIB strives to teach braille reading and writing skills to persons caring for PWVIs and offer rehabilitation to visually-impaired persons.
Deaf Empowerment Society of Kenya (DESK)
Based in Embu County, DESK is a non-governmental organization (NGO) established in 2013 to “ensure equal opportunities in all walks of life for Deaf persons residing in Embu County and throughout Kenya.”
According to the Society’s website, DESK was established to address the deep-rooted discrimination against persons with hearing impairment. The organization strives to achieve this through human rights advocacy; political, social, and economic empowerment; and education and training.
Kenya National Association of the Deaf (KNAD)
KNAD is a national umbrella organization advocating for the rights of hearing-impaired persons in Kenya. On its website, the organization recognizes and laments what it terms as the marginalization of hearing-impaired persons in the country. This tendency, it says, is brought about by Kenyans' view of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) as "objects of benevolence."
Towards improving the situation, KNAD strives to "routinely mobilize and empower vulnerable deaf people for active representation, meaningful participation, and advocacy for an inclusive society."
Kenya Society for Deaf Children (KSDC)
Started in 1958, KSDC is a non-profit making non-governmental organization (NGO) to assist hearing-impaired children. The Society strives to achieve this by promoting the active participation of such children in the Society. In the long run, KSDC's aspiration is for every hearing impaired child in Kenya to have “the opportunity to reach their full potential.”
The 64-year-old organization is also committed to children's rights with hearing impairment, especially in education, general welfare, and health. KSDC strives to fulfill these commitments through strengthening institutional structures dealing with hearing-impaired children and sensitizing the Society about the rights and needs of such children.
KSDC also runs support programs for families with such children and advocates for and lobbies for hearing-impaired children.