Web today is used by all and is an essential part of our lives. It comes to our rescue at work, at home, on the road and is handy round the clock. However, web accessibility, that comes to us with a click of a mouse or a finger tap can be a lot trickier for many. When it comes to people with disability (PwD), a simple online form to create an account on a website can become an impossible task.
Did you know that an accessible establishment is the one with colour contrast between the steps and the risers? Were you aware that to ensure accessibility in a building, the handrail should extend beyond the first step? Did you know that just having a ramp beside stairs does not make a framework accessible? While people have a keen interest in making their built environment and technology accessible for PwD, the reality is that they often do not know how or where to start.
All the above and much more regarding accessibility, whether physical or technology, was discussed at a session organised at International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT), Bengaluru on May 15, marking the eighth Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). The event was held by E-Health Research Center of IIITB in association with Rotary Bengaluru Abilities.
“The purpose of GAAD is to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about accessibility and people with different disabilities. The target audience of GAAD is the design, development, usability, and related communities who build, shape, fund and influence our world, both in physical and in digital space. The intention of this event was to make our students, the start-ups incubating at IIITB and the web designers to be aware of the need for accessibility,” said Amit Prakash, associate professor, IIITB.
The session witnessed multiple presentations made on web and physical accessibility by industry experts and PwDs alike. “Today, while the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act (RPWD) 2016 includes 21 disabilities instead of seven as per the old act, in general, all types of disabilities are stereotyped. It is time that we combine accessibility with reasonable accommodation to achieve total accessibility. As per the RPWD act, even the old buildings should adhere to the act guidelines by June 2022,” said Rama Krishnamachari, Diversity and Equal Opportunity Center (DEOC).
Ankit Jindal, founder of Friends for Inclusion, a not for profit social start-up which focuses on technologies for PwD, said, “There are international and Indian standards to make digital content accessible to PwD. All mainstream products need to incorporate these accessibility standards. Many a time, developer community discard this for an easier route.”