Inclusion and Independence: The impact of Mobile Technology on the Lives of Persons with Disabilities in Kenya and Bangladesh

Catherine Holloway, Vicki Austin, Giulia Barbareschi, Clara Aranda, Nusrat Jahan, Naemur Rahman, Charles Musungu Mutuku
Nov. 1, 2020
Academic Research Publications

This paper waspresented at the 2020 IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference (GHTC) which took place as a virtual conference from 29 October to 01 November 2020 due to travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. IEEE GHTC 2020 shared practical technology-enabled solutions that addressed the needs of underserved communities in resource constrained environments around the world.


Globally, mobile technology plays a significant role connecting and supporting people with disabilities. However, there has been limited research focused on understanding the impact of mobile technology in the lives of persons with disabilities in low or middle- income countries. This paper presents the findings of a participatory photovoice study looking at the role that mobile phones play in the daily lives of 16 persons with disabilities in Kenya and Bangladesh. Participants used a combination of pictures and voice recordings to capture their own stories and illustrate the impact that mobile phone use has on their lives. Through thematic analysis, we categorized the benefits of mobile phones captured by participants as 1) Improved social connection; 2) Increased independence and 3) Access to opportunities. While mobile phones are ubiquitously used for communication, for persons with disabilities they become essential assistive technologies that bridge barriers to opportunities which are not accessible otherwise. Our paper adds evidence to the need for mobile phones for persons with disabilities to enable communication and connectivity in support of development.
Published on IEEE.The full paper is availible here.