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Enabling ICT through access and affordability

In the image, Ramdas Athawale, Minister of State, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India, is shown releasing a knowledge report by CBM with dignitaries on the stage at the Assocham Annual Accessibility Conference in New Delhi.
© Assocham
Ramdas Athawale, Minister of State, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India, releasing a knowledge report by CBM at the Assocham Annual Accessibility Conference in New Delhi.

At a recent Conference supported by CBM India and organised by Assocham, a leading industry body, the speakers and participants from government, industry and NGOs highlighted that Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) play a fundamental role in enabling access to basic services and opportunities. Lack of access to them can leave communities further marginalised, without access to employment, health services, education and participation in governance.

For persons with disabilities access to ICT is even more important as not only are they already excluded due to the existing barriers they are also, in most cases, completely dependent for their very participating.

Recently, 21st March 2017, CBM India partnered with the Associated Chambers of Commerce of India (ASSOCHAM) for its 3rd Annual Conference cum Exhibition on Empowering Persons with Disabilities through Accessible & Assistive Technology Mainstreaming through Affordable ICT.

A shared concern

One of the core mandates for CBM has been to bring policymakers, private sector, civil society organisations, experts, and citizens together for creating awareness and sharing best practices for an inclusive and barrier-free world.

CBM believes that information technology has tremendous potential to change the lives of vulnerable groups, especially persons with disabilities and other.
 
The conference is seen as an important calendar event by various stakeholders associated with ICT and disability inclusion, with senior level participants and speakers from leading technology companies like IBM, Microsoft, Accenture and Capgemini.

Participation by the government over the years also provides a policy traction for the event with the presence of ministers, secretaries and senior leadership from government agencies that are directly entrusted with the mandate of working for inclusion and participation of persons with disabilities.

Affordability and access

©Assocham
Mr. T. D. Dhariyal, former CBM Advisor Mainstreaming and Disability – and now the Disability Commissioner, Government of Delhi – delivering the keynote address at the Assocham Annual Accessibility Conference supported by CBM.
The conference this year focused on mainstreaming and affordable ICT for inclusion. The theme was intended at draw attention to the fact that though there is a justifiable excitement about ICT for its potential in creating a more levelled field for persons with disabilities, for a country like India the aspect of affordability is critical.

Mr. T. D. Dhariyal, former CBM Advisor Mainstreaming and Disability – and now the Disability Commissioner, Government of Delhi – delivered the keynote address at the conference.

“The Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPD) Act, 2016, defines communication to include language, display of text, Braille, tactile communication, large print, accessible multimedia as well as written, audio, plain-language, human-reader and augmentative and alternative modes, means and formats of communication, including accessible information and communication technology,” Mr. Dhariyal said.

He cited various clauses of the new Act to highlight the legal framework we have for accessibility in ICT. The Act clearly mandates that accessibility includes both environmental and information technology accessibility (ICT accessibility).

Click here to read more here on ICT and accessibility.
 
Mr. Dipendra Manocha, President, DAISY Forum of India, stressed on the need for convergence and looking at accessibility in a holistic manner to leverage the maximum benefit from what the ICT driven world has to offer. He also highlighted that a comprehensive approach to accessibility will also bring down costs and allow us to tap into infrastructure investment.

He used specific examples to explain how isolated planning and implementation can disrupt the move towards full and effective participation. He used the example of a public service like library and said: “If you create ramps into the library and do not provide accessible books, the purpose of inclusion is not served.”

Ramdas Athawale, Minister of State, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India, was the chief guest at the conference.

He drew a parallel between the struggle against exclusion by socially marginalised sections with that of persons with disabilities by stressing that inclusion is embedded in the country’s constitution and has been a part of India’s quest for equality for all its citizens.
 
Mr. Athawale stressed on the need for the private sector and civil society to continue playing a pivotal role as the government initiatives by themselves are not enough.

The minister then unveiled a report curated by CBM India for the conference and sharing with hundreds of software and IT companies that are part of Assocham. The background note will be sent out to the policymakers, media and senior government officials.  


Thumbnail for video "Highlights of 2nd T20 World Cup for blind 2017 finals" Thumbnail for video "Highlights of 2nd T20 World Cup for blind 2017 finals"

Highlights of 2nd T20 World Cup for blind 2017 finals

The highlights of T20 World Cup for the blind finals held at Chinnaswamy Stadium Bengaluru, India


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