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#NothingWithoutUs – a campaign to ensure inclusion of people with disabilities

This years Global Accessibility Awareness Day has more significance than ever before due to changing times of unprecedented COVID-19 situation. Due to COVID-19 almost everything has gone digital except eating food or taking bath! All events – may it be corporate events, may it be social events, may it be GAAD events, all are happening on virtual. As we prepare to accommodate our guests with disabilities when we host an in-person event, it’s equally important, we make sure our virtual platform is accessible to all of our guests including those with disabilities. Today, there are several platforms that are fairly accessible including Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Skype, YouTube etc., While platforms are accessible, one needs to configure some features such as Live Captioning. For Google Meet, just pressing “CC or Closed Captions” button display captions on the screen as presenter speaks. (as much as I know this works for English and I have not tried for other languages).

Another important area to consider accessibility is Education. As we know Carona Virus is going to live with us at least for a few years and it’s new normal to host classes online. Some schools in India are already planning to have 50% of students attend school each day and when they are at home, they are expected to attend virtual classes. To ensure inclusion of students with disabilities, schools, colleges and universities must choose platforms that are accessible and make their course material, examination platforms accessible. Investing on these platforms involves huge cost and if accessibility is not considered at the initial stages of procuring technology, it will be almost impossible to address the problem later and students with disabilities will feel impairment and left excluded.

Urge all organizations to include term “Technology must be complaint with accessibility standards and accessible to users with disabilities” while signing contract for any product and do not agree to claim that they will fix it later. It’s not rocket science to make product accessible. Often products are inaccessible, because accessibility is not part of product development roadmap and code is written without having all users in mind. It’s just about changing the mindset.

Accessibility is not limited just for employment or education, it needs to be ensured everywhere including entertainment, travel, shopping, physical spaces like apartments, townships, parks, home appliances like Washing machine, Television etc.,

So do your bit by ensuring your platforms are accessible to everyone including people with disabilities.

Happy #GAAD! Again promote campaign #NothingWithoutUs.

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