When thinking about disability and rehabilitation it is important to remember that perceptions of disability are slowly changing. Since at least the 1960s there has been a gradual but increasing realization amongst politicians, policy makers and other stakeholders in regard to the world of persons with disabilities.
In the recent past, there has been a rise in the number of persons with disabilities by 163 percent in two decades and therefore the need for rehabilitation services has become real for one in every five persons. Rehabilitation services that improve the quality of people’s life include physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech-language and audiology therapy, orthopedic technology and mental health therapy among others.
Promoting more inclusive societies and employment opportunities for persons with disabilities requires improved access to basic education, vocational training relevant to labor market needs and jobs suited for persons with disabilities.
Women and men with disabilities can and want to be productive members of society. In both developed and developing countries, promoting more inclusive societies and employment opportunities for people with disabilities requires improved access to basic education, vocational training relevant to labor market needs and jobs suited to their skills, interests and abilities, with adaptations as needed. Many societies are also recognizing the need to dismantle other barriers, making the physical environment more accessible, providing information in a variety of formats, and challenging attitudes and mistaken assumptions about people with disabilities.
One of the leading organizations that is committed towards improving the lives of persons with disabilities is the Association for the Physically Disabled in Kenya (APDK) through advocating for an inclusive society, provision of rehabilitation services, both physio and Occupational Therapy, provision of appropriate wheel chairs and assistive devices such as crutches, walking frames and surgical boots. APDK also works towards economically empowering and advocating for the rights of persons with disability.
The Ministry of Public Service, Gender, Senior Citizens Affairs and Special Programs offers Disability Development Programmes through the Rehabilitative Services Division. The ministry’s goal is geared towards protection, empowerment and advocacy of needs of persons with disabilities.
There are several Vocational Rehabilitation Centers (VRCs) spread out all over the country from Embu, Kabarnet, Odiado, the Industrial Rehabilitation Centre in Nairobi, Nyandarua, Kericho, Kakamega, Kisii, Machakos, Muriranjas in Muranga and Bura in Taita Taveta. All the above centers offer services geared towards making the lives of persons with disabilities better.
Human and Inclusion (HI), formerly known as Handicap International, and Jesuit Refugee Services (JSR) offer specialized services that continue at the centers in Kakuma and Kaloboyei. These organizations offer rehabilitative services ranging from mobility assistance and psychosocial services to persons within Kaloboyei settlement, Kakuma camp and the host community.
JRS operates five inclusive education facilities that offer children with disabilities in Kakuma and Turkana host community regular and specialized education, psychosocial services, and auxiliary services. Parents of these children as caregivers are given support, counseling and training. JRS also conducts community outreach to identify children with disabilities and offers rehabilitation services, psychosocial support and non-formal education to homebound children with disabilities.
Chesire Disability Services Kenya (CDSK) is another organization that offers rehabilitations services for persons with disabilities. These homes include Oriang Chesire Home in Homabay that offers inclusive education, Limuru Chesire Home in Kiambu Country that teaches life skills for girls only, Kariobangi Chesire home and day care Centre for the elderly in Nairobi and Makueni Cheshire Home in Makueni Country that runs a vocational training and rehabilitation Centre.
CDSK rehabilitates children and youth with disabilities through corrective surgeries, different kinds of therapies and provision of various assistive devices. The organization also offers life skills training to youths with disabilities for economic empowerment.