On the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, December 2, 2020, USAID featured eKitabu's Digital Story Time as one of the three ways the Agency is supporting persons with Disabilities to face the challenges of COVID-19.
The COVID-19 global pandemic has challenged all communities, and tested our resilience, tenacity, and patience in ways few could have predicted as 2020 began. This is especially true for those groups who already live at the margins of society, for whom existing inequality and discrimination have exacerbated the negative impacts of the pandemic.
Persons with disabilities are one such group for whom the pandemic has taken an especially harsh toll. Although the true breadth and depth of impact is still emerging, initial research indicates that many persons with disabilities have experienced discrimination in accessing COVID-related information and treatments, resulting in higher rates of mortality, especially for those in group living settings.
In Kenya, USAID partnered with eKitabu (“Book” in Swahili), a local education content organization, to leverage existing early grade storybooks in accessible digital format, and embedding Kenyan Sign Language to create “Digital Story Time.” This daily 30-minute television program for children and families features educational content with voice narration, Kenyan Sign Language, and captions in Kiswahili and English, with images and interactive activities to engage deaf children and hearing children in learning to read together.