BIF in association with BE has come out with ICT Accessibility Recommendations for Persons with Disabilities by releasing a White Paper titled ‘Priorities for a COVID-19 World: ICT Accessibility for Persons with Disabilities in India’ during Digital Dialogues webinar.
The paper was jointly released by Dr. Malcolm Johnson, Deputy Secretary-General, ITU; JS Deepak, Former Ambassador to WTO & Former Secretary – Department of Telecommunications (DoT), Ministry of Communications; K Ramchand, Member (T), DoT; HK Mahajan, DDG (SR & E), DoT; and Vinay Thakur, Chief Operating Officer, National eGovernance Division, MeitY.
The key recommendations are:
1. Integration and implementation of the DiDRR Guidelines within the COVID-19 response system
2. Setting up an inter-ministerial steering committee to recommend and implement accessibility measures within the government and other stakeholders as recommended by TRAI
3. Time-bound action plan to drive compliance with GIGW guidelines: Identification and prioritisation of the key government and private websites and apps used to monitor and provide COVID-19 related relief and assistance and make them GIGW compliant; Engage service providers and institutions involved in education, entertainment, shopping and healthcare to create accessible ICT infrastructure and offerings; and develop a timeline with action plan for GIGW 2.0 compatibility
4. Adoption and notification of telecom accessibility standards by TEC and inclusion in certification criteria for telecom devices and products manufactured/procured/sold in India
5. Expedite the adoption and notification of accessible ICT procurement standard by MeitY
6. Inclusion of ICT Accessibility in the Universal Service Charter: Universal Service charter be expanded to include persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups as beneficiaries; and assistance provided by the USOF may include assistive technologies, devices, content, skilling and services required to make complete digital inclusion and empowerment of these groups possible
7. Promote adoption of assistive technologies and accessibility to drive greater broadband adoption amongst persons with disabilities and promote digital inclusion in line with the NDCP’s objectives
8. Ensure accessibility of all COVID-related information being broadcast through media as per accessibility standards notified by MIB
9. Remove copyright barriers to accessible digital content through issuance of a gazetted notification that confirms permissibility of import and export of accessible-format books
Persons with Disabilities comprise about one billion of the world’s population and India has its own share of individuals living with varying levels of disability. Those with mobility issues, hearing, visual or speech impairment, mental disorders or more, are often dependent on caregivers. This is all the more relevant in the present COVID-19 scenario, when restrictions on human interaction and assistance have left Persons with Disabilities isolated and vulnerable but assistive technology can be a game changer.