Centre for Internet & Society
Stakeholders Meeting of the USOF on Facilitating ICT Access to Persons with Disabilities in Rural Areas

Stakeholders' Meeting in New Delhi

The Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF), a fund set up to provide universal access to telegraph services to rural and remote areas in India organized a stakeholders meeting on 7th September in New Delhi to launch a new scheme for supporting pilot projects for facilitating access to persons with disabilities in rural areas. Nirmita Narasimhan participated in this meeting and made a presentation.

The meeting was attended by representatives of the associations of service providers and manufacturers like Telecom Equipment Manufacturers Association of India (TEMA) and Sasken Communication Technologies, civil society organizations working for the disabled like Accenture on "ICT Initiatives for Connecting Persons with Disabilities" (AICB), Saksham, Equal Opportunities Cell from Delhi University, technology companies like Intel, educational institutions like NIOS and representatives from other ministries and departments such as MHRD.

The meeting began with a key note from the Administrator, USOF and a presentation from the Joint Administrator (Finance), USOF, introducing the scheme. This was followed by presentations from various stakeholders. It was agreed that the first step towards inviting projects would be the identification of problems by disability organizations to ensure that project ideas would be in line with the needs of persons with disabilities. Importantly, the Joint Administrator stressed that although projects could only be submitted by service providers, it would be important for each project to have a strong partnership of service providers, content developers and disability organizations to ensure that the solutions sought to be achieved through the projects would be a holistic one. The USOF has not yet settled on any upper ceiling for the projects: this will be determined once the projects start coming in. Projects will be evaluated by a select committee on a qualitative basis. The size of the pilot projects is to be small, possibly at a district level. Based on the success of the projects, these would then be considered for scaling up.

USOF Meet in New Delhi

  • Download Nirmita's presentation here [Powerpoint file, 227 kb]
  • For agenda, click here
  • For more info about the event, see the USOF website
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