Access to ICT extremely important for people with disabilities in modern era, experts say
The non-government organization Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF) has demanded the use of special technology and methods to access the websites of various organizations and ensure that people with disabilities are able to use them effectively.
The demand was voiced at a virtual workshop, “Increasing Access to Websites for People with Disabilities”, on Tuesday.
Bhashkar Bhattacharjee, a consultant on visual impairment, presented the findings of an audit report, “Web Accessibility Report by Identifying Gaps and Barriers with Recommendations and Guidelines”, at the workshop. The report was based on the experiences of 30 people with visual impairment who accessed various websites.
According to the participants, they faced difficulty using the keyboard, reading the Bangla PDF format, and accessing websites with timers. Furthermore, a lack of alternative texts created difficulties with entering security and captcha codes, as well as with determining images or reading tables and charts.
Bhattacharjee said: “We can’t change the font or colour. The contents are not friendly for us. We do not need money to fix these kinds of problems; we just need a decision to be taken to make the websites friendly for people with disabilities. It is the government’s responsibility to ensure disability-friendly websites.”
Shaheen Anam, executive director of MJF, said: “Generally, we talk about physical access in every sector and about physical disabilities. But we are now in the era of IT, and people with disabilities are being left out in terms of access to IT platforms as well. If people with visual impairment cannot access websites, they will be left in the dark.”
Md Mohsin, secretary of the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief, said the government would do whatever was possible to solve the issues of people with disabilities. ICT Division Senior Secretary NM Zeaul Alam made similar remarks.
The workshop was organized in association with Young Power in Social Action (YPSA), Centre for Services and Information on Disability (CSID) and Visually Impaired People’s Society (VIPS).
According to Articles 9 and 21 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), state parties are expected to take necessary action to promote access for persons with disabilities to new information and communications technologies and systems, including the internet.
Currently, all 57 ministries, 353 departments, 8 divisions, 64 districts, 491 upazillas, and 4,553 unions of Bangladesh have active web portals integrated through the country’s National Web Portal, which is the largest government web portal in the world.