“Accessible Information and Communication Technology : The person with Disability Perspective”

Sep Tue 2020 01:02:18

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“Accessible Information and Communication Technology : The person with Disability Perspective”

Background

World Health Organization estimates that nearly 15% of the global population lives with some forms of disability and out of which nearly 2-4% belongs to severe difficulties due to their disability. In the Nepal Census 2011, it has reported nearly two percent (1.94%; 513,321) of the total population of Nepal reported having “some kind of disability”. It is claimed to be a very low estimate due to inadequate capacity in collecting information on disability.

There are different barriers like environmental, attitudinal, and institutional barriers for meaningful participation of persons with disabilities in decision making. Within the environmental barriers, there are barriers related to physical and information challenges of accessibility. If Information Communication Technology (ICT) is accessible then it can contribute to the challenges of accessing information and strengthen the communication skills of a person with disability.

It is also revealed that women are more likely to experience challenges of disability therefore there should be more discussion on challenges faced by women with disability in accessing these ICTs for promoting their leadership and participation to access basic public services.

In this context, CAN Federation, Women in ICT (WICT) committee organized the virtual discussion to discuss on “Accessible Information and Communication Technology: Person with Disability Perspective”.

 

Discussion

 

The virtual discussion initiated with a warm welcome remark from the President of CAN Federation, Mr. Nawaraj Kunwar. He shared that there is marginalization faced by the person with disability in access to Information and Communication Technology (ICT). He emphasized that government and private sectors should collaborate more for making digital accessible technologies to protect the rights of the person with disability.

Women in ICT Committee advisor Ms. Shikha Shrestha, moderating the discussion shared about different barriers faced by the person with disability that challenged them in occupying a meaningful position in decision making. She shared that barriers of accessing information and communication technology is one of the key challenges that need to be addressed for empowering the person with disability.

 

Mr. Prakash Maharjan and Ms.Santoshi Ghimire helped with sign language interpretation.


Resource persons:


·       Mr. Anil Kumar Dutta, Joint Secretary at the MoCIT (Ministry of Communication and Information Technology)


·       Dr. Birendra Raj Pokharel, Chairperson at Action on Disability Rights and Development Nepal (ADRAD)


·       Ms. Jaya Luintel, President & CEO at The Story Kitchen


·       Mr. Sagar Prasai, Founder & Director at Diverse Patterns


·       Ms. Tika Dahal, President at NDWA (Nepal Disabled Women Association)


 

Ms. Tika Dahal from NDWA presented her valuable opinion on the situation of differently-abled persons and women in the ICT sector. She also reflected on the responsibility of the government and policy-makers to disseminate information properly.

She doubts if the information meant for the disabled is really intended for them. Furthermore, she questions if the disabled can actually access such information.

Even in this pandemic, it might be difficult for the disabled to adapt to the online study fashion. In fact, women are also a victim of a male dominant society when it comes to ‘work from home’ adaptation, according to her. She pointed out that most women may have to sacrifice the usage of technology for their husbands or children for chores.

Also, she praised the recent attempts of the government and other associations for advocating the rights of the differently-abled. She requests the government to collaborate with private organizations such as the NDWA to move forward with digitizing the country completely.

 

Digital Accessibility for all

Ms. Sagar Prasai explained about digital accessibility and how essential it is to make documents accessible for all. To ensure accessibility for all, both parties should meet in the middle ground.

For example, if creators are optimizing information for access to all, a differently-abled person should have an assistive device to access the information.

However, the concept of digital accessibility should not be limited to only the disabled, according to Sagar Prasai.

 

 Use of Digital Signature

Mr. Anil Kumar Dutta shared that the government has been implementing the practice of digital signature. Or, at least is in the process.

Many government offices have provisions of online services that allow people to stay at home and avoid the obligation of physical presence.

 

Mainstream or ‘Menstream’ media

Ms. Jaya Luitel highlighted the importance of security while using online resources and platforms. Sharing a global survey of women in Media, she explained that the voice of women has been silenced. However, that is changing but not fast enough.

Both Global and Nepali data shows that media channels invite men as expert or spokesperson. There is a minimum presence of women in media in terms of their stories being heard or introducing them as role models.

She demands that the voices of marginalized, silenced, and disabled women should be heard. The Story Kitchen came to be as an alternative platform to amplify such voices, she explained.

 

Collaboration is the key

Dr. Birendra Raj PokharelS explained the fundamentals of accessible technology. It promotes equality, non-discrimination, and participation.

Furthermore, he stressed the need for collaboration with private-public entities to bring this matter into attention. This will help to tackle the accessibility issues and develop technologies such as apps and GPS to empower and secure the disabled.

 

Ms. Sheela Kansakar Karkee, Chairperson, Women in ICT Committee, CAN Federation thanked all the resource persons, President of CAN Federation, Immediate and Past Presidents, CAN Federation board as well as executive members, CAN Federation staffs, Participants, technical teams, including Women in ICT Committee members for their strong support in organizing the event. She thanked the interpretations as well as note-taker for their effort in making these deliberations accessible. She opined that this event will be a milestone event for promoting collaboration between CAN Federation and Disability right promoting agencies to contribute to the common goal of making ICTs accessible to all. 

 

 

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