a. Research Projects Fabrication Lab in a Kit (FLIK): Do it Yourself Digital (DIY) Assistive Technology (DAT) Study in Kenya

This is a research study in collaboration with Maseno University and York University, Canada. In this project, we use a Community-Based Research (CBR) approach to understand the socio-economic, cultural, psychological and technological dynamics that determine the impact of designing, developing and deploying do it yourself (DIY) digital assistive technology (DAT) for Kenyan children with disabilities. Specifically, the study aims to examine (1) how the stakeholders’ cultural attitudes and norms about disability affect the process of development and use of DAT for this population and (2) how collaborative Participatory Design (PD) processes shift the understanding of technology and disability in this cultural context. As a prototyping and fabrication platform, the study will employ the use of TalkBox, a low-cost DIY open-source communication and information access system that the study team has developed and used in collaborative workshops with teachers, parents and children with disabilities in other set-ups

Fabrication Lab in a Kit (FLiK) is a 12 months research study that will be done in three phases, each engaging key stakeholders. Phase 1 will involve conducting an environmental scan of the fabrication material and technology available in Kenya and design technical kits and teaching material to be used in the workshops. Phase 2 will involve training of research assistants and interns on how to facilitate PD workshops and use the DIY fabrication tools. Researchers will then conduct a workshop with stakeholders, including children with disabilities (~10-15 children) and their teachers, where modified TalkBoxes will be designed and fabricated. Data will be collected before, during and after the workshop. Phase 3 will focus on analysis of data and dissemination.

The intended project outcomes include (1) understanding the impact of participatory practices on attitudes towards disabilities, on self-efficacy, and on the technical knowledge of stakeholders; (2) increased access to DATs both through access to the developed technologies retained by stakeholders and the participants’ increased technical knowledge; and 4) an increased understanding of the stakeholders’ socioeconomic and technological dynamics in the design and deployment of assistive technology with potential implications for policy and guidelines for others in the international network seeking the meaningful social inclusion of persons with disabilities through genuinely collaborative communities that bridge ability, age, income, and expertise domain.

Who is involved?

Children Living with Disability: We recruit children living with disability from St. Francis, Oriang’ Primary School (n=12) and Lutheran School of Mentally Handicapped (12), both which are in Kisumu County. Method: First the school population is profiled to establish the total number of children in the school. A list of children living with disability in the school is prepared to establish types of disabilities in the school. Children living disability (speech, cognitive and hearing disability) are then sampled and screened for participation.

Parents and Caregivers of Children with Disability: Parents of children with disability at St. Francis Oriang’ and parents of children with disability from Lutheran are screened for eligibility to participate in the study and only those who meet the selection criteria will be eligible to participate. Eligibility criteria include (a) parents living with children with disability for more than three months, (b) Parents living with disability, and (c) Parents whose children are in contact with children with disability (in the same class). Selected parents participate in an in-depth interview to assess their knowledge, attitude and perception of toward disability.

Facilitators: A total of 6 facilitators from Maseno University have been recruited to participate in the project. This is distributed across different departments as follows: Computer science students=2, Social work students=2, Special education students= 2 computer instructors (1 each from the participating schools)

b. Production of Moringa Concentrate Using Appropriate Technologies (MC) in Kisumu County, Kenya

This is a research study in collaboration with Northwestern University and UC Davies, USA. In this study, our general objective is to assess the impacts of household water insecurity on agricultural and economic productivity, nutrition, and physical and psychosocial health in Kisumu County, Kenya. Specifically, we aim to investigate the prevalence of household water insecurity in Kisumu County, Kenya by surveying water insecurity among 250 households, explore the consequences of household water insecurity among 250 households in Kisumu County, Kenya, assess the acceptability and feasibility of growing moringa (a drought-resistant crop) among approximately 40 households in Kisumu County, Kenya and explore the impacts of HHWI on moringa cultivation in Kisumu County, Kenya.