Although collecting data on disability remains challenging, estimates in developing countries like Kenya stress that80 % of children with disabilities may be out of school. The recorded 250,000 enrolled children with disabilities continue to struggle due to inadequate learning materials responsive to their needs. Printed books cannot offer all the necessary features to ensure access to education for all children including those with disabilities. Through the Accessible Digital Textbook project, UNICEF Kenya works with Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) and stakeholders to develop a pilot open-source accessible digital textbook on Environmental Activities for Kenyan first graders. The textbook has been built upon EPUB 3 developed by the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) and Readium Foundation, in close collaboration with UNICEF HQ Disabilities Unit. It is available in two major formats: the triple version format and the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) format. The triple version format provides specific version for specific disability, while the UDL one provides different media-overlays (audio for learners with visual impairment, Kenyan Sign Language for those with hearing impairment, and simplified text for learners with intellectual disabilities). The UDL format aims to ensure that the pilot textbook not only benefits children with disabilities, but all children regardless of learning styles.
During the investment period, the textbook was piloted in 25 primary schools in five counties in Kenya, engaging 130 learners with disabilities and 30 teachers. The piloting process aimed at assessing the usability of the textbook. After incorporating the feedback of learners and teachers during the piloting process, an improved version of the pilot textbook is made available. An official launch event has been planned out by the Ministry of Education in August 2019. Moving forward, UNICEF Kenya has received some funding to further support KICD in scaling up the project by developing digital accessible textbook for four subject areas to benefit at least 25,000 children with disabilities in the country. The scaling up process will critically leverage on the lessons learned from the pilot project.