Dear Friends,In October, we participated in the first ever conference in Africa of the International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairment (ICEVI). It was in Nairobi. We are deeply grateful to our honored and loved friends Praveena Sukhra-Ely, Chief Director, Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Government of South Africa; Dr. Donatilla Kanimba, founding Executive Director of Rwanda National Union of the Blind (RNUB); Nafisa Baboo, Director of Inclusive Education, Light for the World; Martin Kieti, Secretary of ICEVI Africa; and many, many others who have committed their lifelong energies to advancing learning and life chances for people with visual impairments. This conference exemplified community on the continent, and we were both changed and nourished by being part of it. On the advice of the people above and our own experiences at Africa Forum in Addis Ababa, 2019, we were ground support for delegates to this conference. This role was developed and informed by our colleagues Venantie Mukanziza, Anne Nzisa, Bazil Onen, Ignatius Kweyu, Emillie Awuor, and others who gave their heads, hearts, and hands to the work. On the final night of the conference, we were overjoyed to be warmly celebrated for our efforts by Mr. Kieti; by ICEVI Africa Chair and Chair of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) Madam Gertrude Oforiwa Fefoame; and by Director Fred Haga, Directorate of Special Needs Education, Ministry of Education, Kenya. We also appreciated the uncommon kindness and collaboration of the staff and management of Panari Hotel, who went above and beyond in their hospitality.
This conference brought together practitioners in education, policymakers, technology developers, and visitors to discuss the future of education for people with visual impairments in Africa. It was also exciting for us to make a first public presentation of findings from a four-year study of the “e-readiness” of Kenyan schools that include learners with disabilities. We have funded this project and worked on it with Director Haga and his team in MOE DSNE since 2019. In 2023, the esteemed Dr. Paul Lynch and Dr. Christopher Hand of the University of Glasgow joined our efforts and have assisted greatly with their knowledge and passion for inclusive and equitable education. At ICEVI Africa we met old and new friends who work in accessibility on the continent, for example, colleagues from Editmicro in South Africa and Clovernook Center for the Blind in US. Asante sana sana to Mr. Kieti for organizing this rejuvenating event and guiding us in our role.