It’s exciting to see that assistive technology is now firmly on the radar of so many!

I’ve been working with Motivation for more than five years now and, in this time, I’ve been lucky enough to visit our projects in Kenya three times. A couple of weeks ago I returned from my latest trip. It was incredible to see the progression of our work, but also the changes across other stakeholders in Kenya.

This time it was clear that people increasingly understand the importance of disability inclusion. We had more meetings with other NGOs and government organisations on this trip than ever before – those who haven’t previously focused on disability were committed to learning from our expertise.

It’s exciting to see that assistive technology (AT) is now firmly on the radar of so many! No doubt, there is still a long journey ahead to ensure that these conversations filter down to work on the ground, so those who need AT can get it. But it’s so encouraging to see a shift in levels of awareness.

Another highlight of my recent trip was meeting our team of peer trainers. They quite literally bought tears to my eyes with stories of the impact that the peer-to-peer approach had on themselves - and how happy they are to now share this with others in their role as peer trainers themselves. For some, this included the realisation that they could become a mother or father after a spinal cord injury. The picture below shows me and Salome, one of our peer trainers, and her new child – it’s not hard to see how happy everyone is in this photo!

There is now global acknowledgment of the urgent need for assistive technology, too. We saw it at the Global Disability Summit when AT was selected as a key theme of the summit and many people spoke about its importance. And I definitely saw this on the ground during my visit to Kenya. From the government of Kenya and the National Hospital in Nairobi to many Disabled People’s Organisations and the UK Government, it’s wonderful to see this being taken on board by so many.

As of last week (Monday 3 December) this recognition is now enshrined in the new Disability Strategy of the UK government. I was proud to be involved at the launch with the Department for International Development and Bond’s Disability and Development Group event last Monday, which coincided with the International Day of People with Disabilities. The Strategy makes assistive technology a key enabler of their theory of change.

The strategy outlines how “assistive technology such as wheelchairs, prosthetics, hearing aids and glasses, is a key enabler for change and can be transformative and life changing for people with disabilities. It will be a focus across everything we do and plays a vital role in supporting inclusion.” It goes on to highlight DFID’s target to reach 500 million people with assistive technology by 2030. 

This recognition is music to my ears, and to those of many people with disabilities, as well as our partners working in Kenya. Times are changing and, at Motivation, we’re delighted to be on this journey.