Africa Rights Talk Podcast Series

Tech4Rights: The use of assistive technologies for persons with disabilities

In conversation with Mr Silver Francis Oonyu and Mr Wilson Macharia


The annual campaign spearheaded by the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria is #Tech4Rights: Rethinking a human rights-based approach to new technologies in Africa. The #Tech4Rights campaign focuses on the impact of new technologies on different aspects of human interaction and the impact of technology on human rights. This campaign has a series of activities that investigate technology in various specific areas, including assistive technologies and persons with disabilities. Assistive technology includes products, equipment and systems that enhance learning, working, and daily living for persons with disabilities. Some common assistive technologies include but are not limited to hearing aids used to enhance hearing; cognitive aids often used by people with memory and attention challenges; and voice recognition programmes, screen readers, and screen magnifiers used by people with mobility and sensory impairments.

In this episode, we have Mr Wilson Macharia, an LLD candidate working at the Centre for Human Rights, who is in conversation with Mr Silver Francis Oonyu, a Disability Rights Advocate from Uganda. Although from different national and professional backgrounds, both Wilson and Silver use assistive technology and shall be discussing their experiences as users with visual impairment. Notably, assistive technologies vary depending on the type and degree of one’s disability. Therefore, although this episode may touch on various types of assistive devices, the main focus shall be on those used by persons with visual impairment.

Legally blind, but privileged to be visionary, Mr Silver Francis Oonyu is passionate about inclusive education. He is a teacher by profession and a consultant in education. Silver is an advocate for persons with disabilities. He is passionate about activities that help persons with blindness and those who are partially sighted. Silver has made it his mission to empower children who are disabled. In 2014, he founded the Silver Memorial Inclusive Learning Center  (SMILE) School in Opucet, Uganda. The school teaches about 200 students how to effectively use adaptive tools, including Braille, information communication technology, and canes. 

Wilson Macharia is an LLD candidate and Tutor at the Centre for Human Rights. He is also a researcher in the Centre’s Disability Rights Unit. A consultant in disability rights, Wilson has been involved in designing and implementing key projects and policies aimed at eliminating the barriers that impede the full and effective participation of persons with disabilities. This includes coordinating the Public Participation Disability Inclusion Index project which seeks to enhance the participation of persons with disabilities in political and public life in Kenya. Wilson sits in the Caucus for Disability Rights Advocacy hosted by the United Disabled Persons of Kenya, and is a member of the Reference Group which successfully conducted baseline research on the inclusion of students with disabilities at the University of Nairobi. His research interests include access to justice, socio-economic rights of vulnerable groups and marginalised communities, and digital inclusion.

This episode is also part of a collaborative effort between the Centre for Human Rights and Paradigm Initiative

This conversation was recorded on 15 June 2021.
Edited by Tatenda Musinahama

Music: Inner Peace by Mike Chino https://soundcloud.com/mike-chinoCreative Commons — Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported — CC BY-SA 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/b...Music promoted by Audio Library https://youtu.be/0nI6qJeqFcc 


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