Before the Kyoto Protocol in 2011, climate change was a divisive issue due to vested interests of various economic players, chief of whom were oil companies, since the use of fossil fuels was said to be one of the biggest climate polluters in the world. It did not help matters that this came on the backdrop of very serious environmental catastrophes, the biggest being the BP oil spill in 2010. Amidst the noise, Tesla, a small vehicle company started in 2003 was slowly gaining ground in the developed world despite strong opposition from oil companies.
With the clamor for environmental responsibility gaining ground, economic blocks such as the European Union set high vehicle emission standards to try and minimize gas pollution responsible for global warming. Caught between a rock and a hard place, things began to change with the improvement of engine capacities and discussions on alternative sources of energy started to gain traction. The discussions have also caused oil marketers such as Total to rebrand to Total Energies as the world looks to shift to environmentally friendly sources of energy. The problem was, however, electric vehicles were still at nascent stages and there were doubts as to whether there were good enough battery capacities necessary to cover short distances for a start. Then, came the introduction of hybrid vehicles, where it’s a combination of both oil and battery capabilities complimenting each other.
For persons with visual disabilities, independent living may somehow seem far fetched since they have to depend on people for the very basic of things. Crossing the road, checking if the electricity is okay, and getting to a place. While there has been technological progress in terms of assistive technologies, the technologies themselves are somehow expensive as a standalone item or service, and this is where there is the use of assisted living in terms of professional guides or close friends who will be the guide to the visually impaired person. With the use of guides, one has to develop trust between themselves and the guide, and besides that, guides come at a cost. If there is no cost involved, then it’s a matter of goodwill, and this one is hard to get since not all human beings are empathetic to the plight of those of us with challenges, more so vision challenges.
Technology integration is the incorporation of technology into disability aspects such as automatic wheelchairs for those with physical impairment or audio responses for those that cannot see. For those that cannot hear, there is the use of flash lights for instance, to alert them of a visitor at the door, the deaf version of a doorbell. Technological integration has also deepened over the last few years especially with the introduction of smartphones, and hence talkback applications on mobile phones came around. Microsoft also introduced screen reading capabilities in its browser, making it easy for those with visual impairments to navigate websites easily.
As it is, there is a lot of focus on African led startups and startups that can help persons with disabilities be more independent are given more premium. This is because, independence for a person with disability means more reliance on technology. If not, a novel way is introduced so as to achieve inclusion and have a product appeal to a bigger number of users. Independent living is also an achievable goal given the use of assistant gadgets such as Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant from Google. What needs to be done is to make it easier to customize these gadgets to suit the needs of a person with disabilities in their private spaces, and caution taken as far as data handling is concerned.
With massive infrastructure projects taking place, stakeholders in the technology and disability sector should strive to check for accessibility features on projects such as roads. This is because with more digitization and the creation of smart cities, the penetration of persons with visual impairment is possible in some careers otherwise thought impossible. Smart driving vehicles and trucks are gaining ground and this means that with remote guidance from the vehicle and the company doing the transportation, its possible for a person with visual impairment to be a track driver and thrive in the logistics industry. It might seem unnecessary to do it but its also a way of increasing trust between the organization and the driver since they will depend on each other for the success of the trip.
The challenge, therefore, remains in organizations that are focused on economic empowerment of persons with disabilities to identify innovators with disabilities and how the innovations can help reduce or minimize challenges to economic inclusion. Organizations such as StepWise and Innovate Now (iN) can help refine the ideas and gain an early market before such innovations are taken up by bigger incubation hubs such as Google Startups for Africa, to take advantage of the 120-billion-shilling startup fund from Google. From these disability-led startups, other persons with disabilities can be employed thus expanding economic empowerment opportunities for everyone and thus a never-ending cycle of employment is created.
Cheers to economic empowerment and independent living.
MY DISABILITY INSPIRED MY CAREER TRANSITION
Employing persons with disabilities: fears and realities.
To create jobs, let us support businesses owned by Persons with disabilities.
CHANGE DISABILITY MESSAGING TO REALIZE THE FULL POTENTIAL OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
STEM ROUTE APPROPRIATE FOR SELF EMPLOYMENT OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
USE BLOCKCHAIN TO ENHANCE THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE 5% OF PUBLIC POSITIONS FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
DISABILITY IS A STRENGTH IN THE WORKPLACE NOT A WEAKNESS
TAX INCENTIVES A BOOST TO THE ACCESS TO ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES
DISABILITY BUSINESS ASSOCIATIONS BEST PLACED TO PROTECT ECONOMIC INTERESTS OF PWDs.
WORK LIFE BALANCE FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES.
Drop some requirements to widen the disability workforce.
Accessibility Is Possible Through Empowerment
DEALING WITH WORK RELATED STRESS FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES.
Finally, inclusion becomes a yardstick for success
Let's bring Persons with Albinism to the table for long term sustainable solutions to Disability challenges.
INVOLVE PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES IN E-SPORTS TOO.
HOW TO INCLUDE PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES IN POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC MATTERS
Employers are already creating accommodating workplaces. Now it’s time to hire more people with disabilities.
DEAR INCOMING GOVERNMENT, EXPAND THE OPPORTUNITIES FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES.
RETHINKING DISABILITY EMPOWERMENT IN THE MIDST OF AN ECONOMIC CRISIS
PERSONALIZE BUSINESS TRAINING FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES TO CREATE MORE JOBS
BROADEN ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITIES FOR THOSE WITH VISUAL IMPAIRMENTS