An Overview of Accessibility Work (2008 - 2016)
India has an estimated 70 million disabled persons who are unable to read printed materials due to some form of physical, sensory, cognitive or other disability. The disabled need accessible content, devices and interfaces facilitated via copyright law and accessibility policies. CIS campaigns for change in this area.
The progress made over the years can be accessed below:
- E-Accessibility Policy Handbook for Persons with Disabilities (Nirmita Narasimhan, G3ict and ITU; November 23, 2010): The handbook was compiled and edited by Nirmita Narasimhan. Nirmita also contributed to the original toolkit.
- Universal Service for Persons with Disabilities (CIS, G3ict and Hans Foundation; December 27, 2011). Nirmita Narasimhan was a co-author.
- Web Accessibility Policy Making (CIS, G3ict and Hans Foundation; February 28, 2012). Nirmita Narasimhan was a contributor.
- Making Mobile Phones and Services Accessible for Persons with Disabilities (ITU and G3ict; August 2012). Nirmita Narasimhan was a co-author.
- Accessibility of Government Websites in India: A Report (CIS and Hans Foundation; September 26, 2012). Nirmita Narasimhan was a co-author.
- Opening New Avenues for Empowerment (UNESCO; February 2013). Nirmita Narasimhan was the project coordinator from Asia Pacific.
- Inclusive Financial Services for Seniors and Persons with Disabilities: Global Trends in Accessibility Requirements (G3ict and CIS; February 2015). Nirmita Narasimhan was a co-author.
- National Compendium of Laws, Policies and Programmes for Persons with Disabilities (CIS and Office of the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, Department of Disability Affairs, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Govt. of India; January 3, 2016). Nirmita Narasimhan was one of the contributors.
- NIVH Annual Report 2011-12 (NIVH; 2012)
- Inclusive Disaster and Emergency Management for Persons with Disabilities (Nirmita Narasimhan and Deepti Samant Raja; September 17, 2013). The report was submitted to the National Disaster Management Authority of India for their action.
- Banking and Accessibility in India: A Report (Nirmita Narasimhan; August 12, 2013)
- Accessibility of Political Parties Websites in India (Nirmita Narasimhan; March 24, 2014).
- Enabling Elections (Nirmita Narasimhan and Centre for Law and Policy Research; March 2014).
Policy Submissions and Feedback
- CIS worked with the Department of Electronics and Information Technology and civil society and industry partners such as the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP), Microsoft Corporation, National informatics Centre (NIC), etc., to formulate and implement a National Electronic Accessibility Policy to ensure that all Indian information and communication technologies and electronic infrastructure (including the Internet) and research which is publically funded, is accessible to persons with disabilities. Nirmita Narasimhan was part of the policy drafting committee.
- Accessibility in the New Telecom Policy 2011: CIS made a submission to the Department of Telecommunications, Ministry of Communications & Information Technology, Government of India on December 9, 2011. CIS was one of the 27 organisations that sent a joint letter requesting that accessibility for persons with disabilities be included specifically within the goals and objectives of the policy.
- Pilot Project Scheme - Access to ICTs and ICT Enabled Services for Persons with Disabilities in Rural India: CIS worked with USOF of India to design a scheme to launch projects for persons with disabilities. CIS prepared a background paper for the USOF, compiled a comprehensive global report which was later published in cooperation with G3ict and helped to convene a stakeholders meeting in September 2011 to launch the scheme and invite project applications.
- Comments to the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014 (Nirmita Narasimhan and Anandhi Viswanathan; October 30, 2014). The comments were submitted to the Parliamentary Standing Committee in October 2014.
- CIS joined hands with Daisy Forum of India member Arushi in Bhopal to submit a request for a notification mandating that all communication by the Government of Madhya Pradesh should be accessible to persons with disabilities. The state government issued a notification in Hindi requesting all departments to comply with WCAG 2.0 and use Unicode font. Nirmita Narasimhan drafted this submission.
- Accessible ICT Procurement: CIS along with 20 other organisations petitioned the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Information Technology, Govt. of India to bring in accessibility considerations within the draft Procurement Bill.
- Comments to the GIGW (Nirmita Narasimhan; April 30, 2015): CIS submitted its comments to the National Informatics Centre for making Indian government websites conform to the notified standards of the Guidelines for Indian Government Websites.
- Recommendations on Accessible ICT Procurement (Pranesh Prakash; May 9, 2016). CIS along with 20 other organisations petitioned the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Information Technology to bring in accessibility considerations within the draft Procurement Bill.
CIS is accredited as an observer at WIPO and regularly participates in the meetings of the Standing Committee for Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) held in Geneva. CIS is actively involved in matters being discussed there such as the TVI. As part of its work, CIS provides comments at the SCCR and advises the Indian government on these matters through policy briefs, research and interactive discussions and meetings. CIS has given several statements on Treaty for the Visually Impaired and prepared an analysis of the consensus document on an international instrument on limitations and exceptions for persons with disabilities with the Third World Network which was widely circulated amongst the negotiators at the SCCR. CIS’ statements at the SCCR in June 2013, July 2012, December 2011, June 2011, and November 2010 are available on the CIS website.
CIS took part in the WIPO Diplomatic Conference to Conclude a Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works by Visually Impaired Persons and Persons with Print Disabilities in Marrakesh, Morocco, June 17 to 28, 2013. The conference concluded with the adoption of the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons who are Blind, Visually Impaired, or otherwise Print Disabled. CIS's Closing Statement at Marrakesh on the Treaty for the Blind can be seen here.
At the national level CIS has been campaigning for right to read, attending meetings with ministries such as the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Department of Electronics and Information Technology, and the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, and giving feedback on the Copyright Amendment Bills. Earlier this year, CIS gave a detailed analysis of the Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2012 examining the positive changes and the negative ones.
- National Workshop on Web Accessibility (Organized by CIS and Society for Promotion of Alternative Computing and Employment; September 25-26, 2009).
- National Conference on ICTs for Differently Abled / Under privileged Communities in Education, Employment & Entrepreneurship — NCIDEEE 2009 (Loyola College, Chennai, December 1 – 3, 2009): The event was co-organised by Dr. A. Albert Muthumalai S. J, Principal, Loyola College, & Prof. J. Jerald Inico, Faculty In-charge, Resource Centre for the Differently Abled (RCDA), Loyola College, in association with NASSCOM, Computer Society of India and CIS.
- CIS organized Right to Read campaigns in the 4 metro cities of Chennai Kolkata, Delhi and Mumbai. The campaign has gathered thousands of supporters and has succeeded in bringing the problems of the print disabled to the notice of policy makers and the general public.
- EdICT 2010 (New Delhi, October 27 to 30, 2010): CIS in collaboration with G3ict, UNESCO, ITU, WIPO, The Deafway Foundation, DEF and SPACE and with the support from Hans Foundation and the Department of Information Technology, Ministry of Information and Communication Technology organised this event. Twenty-nine experts made presentations on a variety of topics, ranging from discussing challenges and solutions in educational institutions, to technology development and policy formulation and implementation. A total of 77 participants attended this event.
- Websites Accessibility Evaluation Methodologies at Twentieth International World Wide Web Conference (Hyderabad, March 30 – 31, 2011): CIS co-organised this with G3ict and W3C. The panel discussed web accessibility evaluation methodologies and their challenges and technical survey methodologies alternatives. The panel was moderated by Nirmita Narasimhan and featured four speakers — Shadi Abou Zahra, Neeta Verma, Srinivasu Chakravartula and Glenda Sims.
- ITU Tutorial on Audiovisual Media Accessibility (India International Centre, New Delhi, March 14 – 15, 2012): In cooperation with the ITU-APT Foundation of India, CIS hosted a two-day Tutorial on Audio Visual Media Accessibility from March 14 to 15, 2012 at the India International Centre, New Delhi, India.
- Girls in ICT Day (Organized by CIS and Mithra Jyothi; Bangalore; April 25, 2013).
|Internet Governance Forum|
CIS has been organising workshops and participating regularly at IGF events since 2008 on topics like accessibility, access to knowledge, openness, internet governance, freedom of expression, etc. Details given below:
- Nirmita Narasimhan was awarded the National Award for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities from the Government of India on December 3, 2010 on the occasion of the World Disability Day. The award was presented by Smt. Pratibha Patil, President of India under the Role Model category. The award function took place at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi and was telecast live on Doordarshan.
- Nirmita Narasimhan received the NIVH Excellence Award from Justice AS Anand (retd), former chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, on International Day of Persons with Disabilities at the National Institute for the Visually Handicapped in Dehradun on December 3, 2011. The Tribune covered the award ceremony.
- Girls in ICT Day 2013 (organized by ITU-APT Foundation of India with support from CMAI - Association of India Communication and Infrastructure, FICCI Auditorium, Tansen Marg, New Delhi, May 7, 2013). Dr. Nirmita Narasimhan got a felicitation for her contribution and achievements in the field of Information and Communication Technology. The honour was conferred during the celebration of this event.
- Nirmita Narasimhan won the NCPEDP-Mphasis Universal Design Award in the "Persons with Disabilities" category. The awards aim to raise awareness about accessibility.
Articles and Interviews
- Technology for Accessibility in Higher Education: Nirmita Narasimhan wrote an article in Enabling Access for Persons with Disabilities to Higher Education and Workplace - Role of ICT and Assistive Technologies. The IIMB Journal was brought out on the occasion of the conference ‘never-the-less’.
- The Business Case for Web Accessibility: NASSCOM Foundation published "Understanding Web Accessibility — A Guide to create Accessible Work Environments". In this handbook on web accessibility, Nirmita Narasimhan authored a chapter titled “The Business Case for Web Accessibility”.
- Barriers to Access in a Connected World: Hans Foundation published its Annual Review of 2011. Nirmita Narasimhan wrote an article in it. She wrote that accessibility is an imperative to achieve a truly inclusive and participatory society and every individual, corporation, organization and government has a crucial role to play in nurturing it.
- Girls in ICT Portal (November 28, 2011): ITU interviewed Nirmita and published her profile on their website.
- An India Where the Disabled have a Choice (Dataquest, August 5, 2016). Nirmita Narasimhan spoke to Dr. Archana Verma about the problems faced by the disabled while using technology.
- We Tested 18 Government Apps, and Most are not Fully Accessible to the Disabled (Nirmita Narasimhan; Factor Daily, August 31, 2016).
- Mobile Apps Are Excluding Millions Of Indians Who Want To Use Them (Nirmita Narasimhan; Huffington Post; September 22, 2016).
Nirmita Narasimhan gave inputs to the following media coverage:
- DFI and Cambridge University Press join hands for getting print access to the “print impaired” (The Bookseller; November 27, 2009).
- WIPO Proposals Would Open Cross-Border Access To Materials For Print Disabled (IP Watch; May 28, 2010).
- Disability groups in India welcome progress on treaty for blind persons (The Times of India; December 20, 2012).
- Indian Users’ Perspective On WIPO Negotiations On Treaty For Visually Impaired (IP Watch; February 16, 2013).
- How tech brings self-reliance to students with disabilities (The Times of India; May 29, 2016).
- How India’s top firms fare in employing women and persons with disabilities (Livemit; August 9, 2016).
- Using technology to address issues (The Hindu; August 14, 2016).
- India has a long road ahead in becoming a disabled-friendly country (Your Story; August 31, 2016).
NVDA and eSpeak
Hans Foundation is funding CIS to do a project on developing a text-to-speech software in 15 Indian languages over a period of two-and-a-half years. Following are the monthly programmatic reports indicating the progress made in the project:
Following are the reports of the training programmes that were conducted across several locations in India:
- 15 days Training in Basic Computing with use of NVDA and eSpeak in Hindi (April 10; 2015).
- 15 days Training in Basic Computing with use of NVDA and eSpeak in Gujarati (April 16, 2015).
- 15 days Training in Basic Computing with use of NVDA and eSpeak in Oriya (April 30, 2015).
- eSpeak Tamil Computing with NVDA (May 4 – 8, 2015).
- Training in Basic Computing with use of NVDA and eSpeak in Assamese (May 9 – 10, 2015).
- Training in the Use of eSpeak for Indian Languages during TOT (May 11 – 20, 2015).
- Tamil Language (May 25 – 29, 2015).
- Training on the Use of eSpeak Hindi on Windows and Android Platforms (May 28, 2015).
- Report on 30 Days Summer Course on Basic Computer Competencies and Language Proficiency (May 1 – 30, 2015).
- Tamil Computing with NVDA Training Workshop (Organized by NVDA team: Anne Jane Ask with Higher Secondary School for the Visually Impaired, Palayamkottai, Tirunelveli; June 3 – 7, 2015).
- Report on eSpeak Tamil Computing with NVDA Training Workshop in Tirunelveli (Organized by NVDA team; Anne Jane Askwith Higher Secondary School for the Visually Impaired, Palayamkottai, Tirunelveli; June 3 - 7, 2015).
- Training in eSpeak Marathi (Organized by NVDA team; National Association for the Blind; Nashik; June 22 - 23, 2015).
- Training in eSpeak Marathi (Organized by NVDA team; SIES College, Sion, Mumbai; June 28, 2015).
- Training in eSpeak Marathi (Organized by CIS; Atmadepam Society; August 22 – 23, 2015).
- Training in eSpeak Hindi (Organized by NVDA team; Jeevan Jyoti School for the Blind; Varanasi; August 26 - 28, 2015).
- eSpeak Training in Hindi Language (Organized by CIS and National Association for the Blind; Kullu; September 3 – 4, 2015).
- Training in use of eSpeak Bengali with NVDA (Organized by CIS; Turnstone Matruchaya, Siligudi, West Bengal; September 7 – 9, 2015).
- 5 day TOT for Training in Use of eSpeak Kannada with NVDA (Organized by CIS, Mithra Jyoti, Enable India and NFB, Bangalore; September 21 – 25, 2015; Bangalore).
- Training in the use of eSpeak Hindi with NVDA (Organized by CIS and Lakshay for the Differently Abled; September 29 – 30, 2015; Ranchi). The event was conducted online by Dr. Homiyar with local support from Mritunjay Kumar and Zainab.
- Report on eSpeak with NVDA Screen Reader and Assistive Technology for Visually Challenged (Organized by National Association for the Blind, New Delhi, Centre for Differently Abled Persons, Bharathidasan University, Tiruchirappalli, and CIS; January 21, 2016; Tiruchirappalli).
- Report on NVDA with E-Speak and BookShare Online Library (Organized by Karna Vidya Technology Centre, Computer and Internet Society, and CIS; February 27, 2016; Chennai).