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Srinivasu Chakravarthula

Smart House for People with Disabilities

This is a guest post by Melisa Merzitt

Smart house for people with disabilities

Many new Internet of things applications are comfort and safety oriented. They make it to where a user is able to regulate temperature and lightening in a room, manage door locks, activate signalization system, etc. With the assumption that, these applications promise its users comfort and manoeuvrability with household appliance, for people with disabilities and older people they mean essentially new level of possibilities in support of independent lifestyle.  


Improvement of accessibility functions made smartphones applicable for far more broad range of people with disabilities. A lot of producers developed smartphones with a simpler and intuitively understandable interface. Such devices are far more suitable for older people who faced with difficulties at using smartphones due to impaired vision or hearing, problems with movement and insufficient mobility. Smartphones of the kind are already used as remotes for equipment of smart houses, smart vehicles and smart cities. They offer people with disabilities a simple in using tool, which would make it easier for them to move  giving an opportunity to take part in economic and social life in a more full measure.  

Industry experts agree upon Internet of things has a great potential in order to make it useful for people with disabilities. Shivpriya Sridhar, product marketing manager of Smart+Communities+IoT company Cisco, says, that her company is already taking well-directed efforts in order to make a fortune out of advantages of Internet of things for people with disabilities. «We believe that the most useful for them are going to be those applications, which are servicing connections of household appliances  to home network and allowing users to automatically switch in and switch off such devices on the basis of day part and other fixed preferences, she says. – an ability to manage, for example, temperature and lightness can also be  in demand among people with a mobility impairment. Besides that, Internet of things is able to significantly improve employment possibilities for them, make an independent life easier and improve social integration of people with disabilities». 

Internet of things may greatly improve access to medicine assistance for older people and people with disabilities. Influence of Internet of things is going to be just enormous and, as a result, a patient will no longer go to a doctor, on the contrary, a doctor will come to a patient. Special sensors will follow a patient`s movements, medication taking, content of carbon dioxide in the building, creating a full image for specialists of medical institution, which will make it to where individual service will be possible and allow a patient to lead an independent way of life. In further perspective, it will have a favorable image of medical service cost. Ultimately, processes of standardization and normalization on the market will lead to medical equipment and infrastructure cost decreasing.


Home automation technologies out of all Internet of things applications, which are able to improve life of people with disabilities, home automation means or differently, smart house technologies are the most promising. Home automation technologies are used cameras and sensors of different kinds for data transfer into a smartphone, allowing it to manage lightness and temperature in the building at the distance, control household appliances operating, security systems and many other devices. In combination with an accessible smartphone interface, smart house technologies embrace a huge potential of possibilities for disabled people, improving quality and providing independency of their way of life. There are many examples: 
• Home automation applications will allow blind people and those who barely see to manage household items operating, regulate temperature in the building with one click on the smartphone. It is very important, however, so these applications to be combined with a screen-reader program using by a smartphone or other special functions. 

• Smart home technologies will help people with disordered motor function to manage everyday objects, access to which for disabled people will be difficult due to their disease such as light regulators, door locks and security system.
• For deaf people and those who can barely hear home automations means will be useful in order to increase safety. A deaf person cannot hear sounds signalizing about strangers in their homes however intellectual system of safety is able to compensate this problem: it will direct an alarm signal onto a phone of a user as soon as sensors fix a suspicious activity beyond their houses.

• Besides that, smart home technologies allow children and elderlies trustees to control everyday activity, operatively reminding about necessity of accomplishment of this or that prescribed actions or tasks.

Several companies have already mastered production of smart home platforms. Digital Life AT&T company is one of such platforms including classical options such as video cameras inside the house, remote control and temperature regulation, home light remote control, remote water leak detention, entry door code locks and so on. 

Digital life AT&T company: from conception to active applications


Taking into account special needs of elderly people and disabled ones, Digital life was developed in order to help with leading an independent life emergency security. For example: 

• Sensors placed at the foot of the bed sets the signal about an elderly person or a disabled one to get up.; 

• Sensors inside the medicine box or a fridge fix time and number of them being opened; 

• Water leak detection sensors automatically cover water supply in case water flood from a bath or a sink.

All these functional capabilities are getting realized due to the net of connected sensors, which during a certain period of time gather information in order to define a typical user every day behavior scheme. After such a scheme to be installed, there will be little difficulty to personalize the system, so it automatically inform relatives, curators, neighbors  and other people in case of routine behavior manners changes.

Digital life  if one of a few smart home platforms available at present time on the market, but it clearly demonstrates an Internet of things potential for improving quality of life and ease of independent living for elderly and disabled people.

About the author: Melisa Marzett whose current activity is writing for <a href=”http://resumeperk.com/”>resumeperk.com</a> simply enjoys the process of writing. She loves cats, French movies and classic literature along with her writing career and hopes to write a book some day.

International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2018

international day of persons with disabilities. Image contains keywords such as Take action, disability inclusion, women with disabilities etc.,

3rd December is observed as International Day of Persons with Disabilities.Theme for this year is Empower people with disabilities and ensuring inclusion & equality.This theme certainly falls in-line with our vision to build an inclusive world. Here are a few ways that one could mark this auspicious day. It’s not necessary that one needs to work in the area of people with disabilities are having prior association to people with disabilities. Anyone could celebrate. It’s all about building awareness. Empowerment happens through raising awareness. 

How you can celebrate:

  1. Bring together a group of people and talk to them how people with disabilities could lead an independent life. 
  2. Ask people to close their eyes and walk around for a few minutes. This will give them an experinece how the world is for people with vision impairment
  3. If you know of a person with disability, invite them and hear their story..
  4. Initiatie a discussion about hiring persons with disabilities and ensuring accessibility as part of business (if not exist already)
  5. Spread the word about inclusion using social media
  6. Visit Big Bazar stores to experience their effort for inclusive shopping
  7. Read about disability and inclusion
  8. Talk to government around you about implementation of Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016 (India)
  9. Create a small video about what disability / inclusion means to you.

These are not only the ways you could celebrate but you can mark the day in any way you want. Let’s together spread the word about disability, inclusion and accessibility. 

If you would like me to be part of your celebration and through your journey of inclusion, drop me an email or comment on this post. Will be happy to help. 

Revised Guidelines for Indian Government Websites and Apps has been published – Accessibility related sections

Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has published revised Guidelines for Indian Government Websites and Apps. Ministry has published first version in January, 2009 and after 9 years, Ministry has now published second version to align with current technologies. These guidelines are adopted by Department of Administrative Reforms and public grievances, Ministry of Personnel, public grievances and pension, Government of India. Revised guidelines not only has guidelines for websites but also for mobile applications.

Following sections are related to Accessibiility:

  1.  1.8 talks about Web Accessibility 
  2. 11.4 talks about Mobile Accessibility Guidelines
  3. Compliance matrix has specific set of guidelines for accessibility both for websites and mobile applications

It’s great to see that guidelines are developed based on international standards including ISO 23026, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016 (India) etc., 

Guidelines are made into three categories; i.e Mandatory, Advisory and Voluntary. 

  • Mandatory: The usage of the term ‘MUST’ signifies requirements which can be objectively assessed and which the Departments are supposed to mandatorily comply with. It is anticipated that there will be no exceptions for a Department not complying with these. In the case of any Department, these guidelines shall apply to all the WebPages/websites under the ownership of that Department. The websites will be checked against these guidelines when audits for compliance are undertaken or for the purpose of quality certification. It is the responsibility of each Department to address and bring into compliance, any non-compliant issues found in any website under their ownership.
  • Advisory: The usage of the term ‘should’ refers to recommended practices or advisories that are considered highly important and desirable but for their wide scope and a degree of subjectivity these guidelines would have otherwise qualified to be mandatory. Departments are, however, expected to comply with these advisories.
  • Voluntary: The usage of the term ‘may’ refers to voluntary practice, which can be for Indian Government Apps & Websites

Guidelines for Indian Government Apps and Websites has adopted Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 and document clearly explains principles of WCAG. 2.0. With having accessibility guidelines in places, GIGAW aims to address the needs of persons with disabilities and ensure that websites and applications are compatible on all major browsers and platforms. One good thing is that accessibility guidelines are embedded into the chapters and not provided as a seperate guidelines. Advantage of doing this is less chances that users do skip these guidelines. Accessibility related guidelines can be found under following sections:

  • Chapter 2 (Indian Government Identity) – guidelines 2.1.6.
  • Chapter 5 (Quality of content) – guidelines 5.3.7, 5.4.2, 5.6.1, 5.6.3, 5.6.4.
  • Chapter 6 (Design) – guidelines 6.2.1, 6.4.5, 6.5.1, 6.5.4, 6.6.1, 6.6.3, 6.7.2, 6.7.3, 6.8.2, 6.8.8, 6.9.1, 6.10.1.
  • Chapter 7 (Development) – guidelines 7.5(a) to 7.5(j), 7.5(m) to 7.5(q).
  • Chapter 11 (Mobile App Guidelines) – most of the guidelines under section 11.4.

Read the full guidelines

Recap of Empower 2018

I have attended Empower 2018 – Assistive Technology Conference hosted by Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi from 25th to 27th October, 2018. Here is a recap of the conference.

Empower 2018 has been kicked off by Prof. Balakrishnan of IIT Delhi. In his address, he has welcomed all the participants, speakers, partners, sponsors and volunteers. 

Then, Dr. TV Raman of Google Research has delivered his keynote where he talked about eyes-free communication access, revolution of technology over the years and what it could be in the days to come. It’s amazing to to know Dr. Raman is an alumni of Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay in 1984. 

Next there was a panel of speakers talking about accessible CAPTCHA solutions, inclusive interfaces. There was also talk about 6 by 6 app by BarrierBreak. In one of the talks, National Institute of Speech and Hearing has talked about how they leverage on technologies to communicate. One of the example is they leverage on WhatsApp web to communicate with people who are hard of hearing. Other method they do is use Google docs to communicate using text while a meeting is happening. One person will type live and someone else keep editing the same. 

Exhibition was awesome. It’s great to see a lot of products from IIT Madras including affordable note takers, Tactile printers etc., Saksham’s experience zone is just amazing where they showcased MI’s 32″ Television that is fully accessible, folder chess board, audio games, talking BP meter, and much more! 

Here are photos from the Empower 2018

Overall, it has been a great conference and I look forward to attending more of such events. I would also like to see it happening in different parts of the country. 

“.new” feature from Google

Most of us uses Google applications such as Google docs, Google sheets, Google slides and they are far more easier to work and collaborate with others using the cloud. 

So far, if we want to create a new document, new sheet or new slide deck; we need to open respective application and choose “new”.

With the recent service by Google, there is a much easier way to do it. Just type something like doc.new, document.new, sheets.new, slides.new and you will get it loaded. Of course, if you are not already logged into any Google services, it may prompt you to sign-in. 

Hope this technology tip would be of handy! 

October 15: White Cane Awareness Day – Event at NAB Karnataka

International White Cane Awareness Day was observed at The National Association for the Blind, Karnataka Branch. The event was started with an invocation song by inmates of orgaanization. 

It was followed by talks by four of the inmates who have just completed Mobility Training at The NAB Karnataka. They have explained their experience using white cane and how they are able to move with more independence. All of them have mentioned white cane remains important tool along with other aids and appliances. 

Then Ajeesh, Ram and Raghu of IBM Accessibility Team have shared their experiences as to how mobility plays a key role in work environment. They urged inmates to gain self-confidence and build aptitude to acceptany challenge. 

They have also talked about key skills that one needs to build a successful career. I have got an opportunity to address the gathering during which I have acknowledged efforts put in by Raghu’s mother who have made sure Raghu lives with independence. She takes him to all pilgrim places and explain everything in detail. We really need such motivational parents. 

Then inmates who have completed their mobility training were awarded with a certificate and a white cane. 

Event was concluded with National anthem. 

Recap of Intuit Annual Accessibility Summit, Inclusive Design 24 and Bangalore Accessibility Dinner

11th October, 2018 was fabulous day for Bangalore. Intuit hosted their 6th Annual Accessibility Summit in their Bangalore office. 

Summit has began with energiser by Prarthana, Co-founder of GiftAbled. Then summit was kicked off Ted Drake, Sanket and Somnath (leadership of Intuit) India.

Balashandra Shetty
Balachandra Shetty speaking at Intuit Accessibility Summit

First talk is by Bala from Google (ex-Intuit) talked about Next billion users where he talked how “voice” become more popular as an input method. He has also explained how much important the accessibility for Google’s new billion project. 

Srinivasu presenting his lecture with laptop
I’m delivering my #ID24 talk

Soon after a short break, I have delivered by Inclusive Design 24 talk on Building Accessible Websites with WordPress. I have started my talk with a brief introduction to myself, a little about WordPress, reasons as to why I would prefer to use wordpress as a platform, problem statement from accessibility prospective, talked about how one should choose themes from WordPress, my favorite plug-ins and finally some thoughts an author should consider while building websites with WordPress. In case you have missed mine and/or any other Inclusive Design24 talks, head over to Inclusive Design 24’s YouTube Channel and you will be able to listen to all of the talks.

Then we left for lunch break! Food was tasty and awesome conversation with Prarthana… Oh, yes I had desert twice!! (Blame Prarthana, if it’s against rules :-))

Panel on Life Style in Tech environment

After having great lunch, again Prarthana did another energizer to make sure all of the participants are awake and that started first afternoon session with a panel discussion on “Accessible Life Style in Tech environment” moderated by Prateek Kaul, Co-founder of GiftAbled. During this panel, Aleena from Intuit did a demo of and Android keyboard they have created and intend to open source at some point. This keyboard can be used will have a single button interface. Other panelists Hatim from Cisco and Madhumitha from Coco cola shared their experiences in their diversity and inclusion journey. Final panelist Rajarajeswari, Founder of Arteius spoke about technologies they are building in the health care sector. 

Sunil Jain speaking about importance of sports

Then Sunil Jain, Founder Trustee and Chief Enabler of Astha spoke about importance and accessibility in sports. He has discussed about challenges faced while entering in the area of sports. He has rightly pointed out how children of today are not getting opportunity to play sport thus unable to develop power of thinking. He urges irrespective child having disability or not, everyone should be given an opportunity to play. 

Panel discussion on Accessibility achievements, challenges and opportunities

Next panel is about Accessibility achievements, challenges and opportunities; again moderated by Prateek. In this panel, Basavaraju, Commissioner, Persons with Disabilities, Government of Karnataka spoke about what accessibility means to him and what role his department should play for inclusion. Other panelists are Apoorv Kulkarni, Accessibility Lead at Ola, Siddhant Shah, Founder of Access for All and Krishna Kumar, Programme Manager (Accessibility & Technology) of GiftAbled. Each of them spoke about efforts put in by each of them to ensure inclusion both for their internal employees and customers. 

Krish Srikant, speaking at Intuit Accessibility Summit

In the final session, Krish Srikant, VP of Customer Strategy, Prakat Solutions spoke about Autism at work: Exploring new opportunities for employment & services. He has talked about work that Prakat is doing in this area in Denver. 

Whole summit was anchored by Chandrasekhar, Talent Acquisition team member of Intuit. Fabulous inclusion T-shirts and goodies were distributed. Those goodies are crafted by people with disabilities and promoted by GiftAbled. 

Then we all have left for Bangalore Accessibility Awareness Dinner hosted by Intuit. It’s great to see a lot of new people this time. A fantastic networking and of course great food!

All photo credits in this post goes to Prarthana and Ted! 

Building Accessible Websites using WordPress – #ID24 Talk

Tomorrow (11th October, 2018) at 11:30am (Indian Standard Time – GMT+5:30), I’ll be speaking at Inclusive Design 24 and the topic is “Building Accessible Websites using WordPress”. While we are currently discussing about accessibility issue with new editor of wordpress, platform is still better from accessibility prospective and I’m sure accessibility issues for the editor would go away soon. 

Here is how you can join my talk:

If you are in attending Intuit Accessibility Summit in Bangalore, you will join this talk in person. 

Look forward to a great event tomorrow. 

September 23: International Sign Language Day

It’s great to learn September 23rd is observed as International Sign Language Day. (Thanks to Akhil Paul of Sense International India for tweeting about it). 

International Day of Sign Language is observed every year on 23rd September along with the International Week of the Deaf. The choice of 23rd September as a date is same as the date when World Federation of the Deaf was established in 1951. 

While sign language is the communication language for people with hearing impairment, everyone takes benefit of it indirectly. In fact, communication of every human being starts with sign language. Let’s notice how a two year child communicates of his / her needs; while some children at the age group start to speak, but many just gets started to speak and they do a lot of signals to communicate. For instance, they show a thumb towards their mouth when they needs water. They show their fingers towards credal or bed, when they want to sleep etc., 

Even when people grow up, use of hand gestures to communicate is quite common. Often people show their fingers to a direction to indicate a location (though that’s not the right way to communicate). But that help sometimes. Even if we do not know to communicate in sign-language, since we do a lot of signs in our routine life, it enable us to communicate with people who are hard of hearing. 

Through this day, let’s raise awareness about sign-language and its importance. It’s great to see Braille and sign-languages are being introduced as subjects by CBSE for children with disabilities.

Resources:

#RPDAct2016 – norms for physical infrastructure

The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016 (India) is a game changer and aim to eliminate barriers in the lives of people with disabilities. Here is what the act has improve accessibility of physical infrastructure. 

Mandatory observance of accessibility norms
44. (1) No establishment shall be granted permission to build any structure 
if the building plan does not adhere to the rules formulated by the Central 
Government under section 40.

(2) No establishment shall be issued a certificate of completion or allowed 
to take occupation of a building unless it has adhered to the rules 
formulated by the Central Government.

Time limit for making existing infrastructure and premises accessible and 
action for that purpose
45. (1) All existing public buildings shall be made accessible in accordance 
with the rules formulated by the Central Government within a period not 
exceeding five years from the date of notification of such rules:

Provided that the Central Government may grant extension of time to the 
States on a case to case basis for adherence to this provision depending on 
their state of preparedness and other related parameters.

(2) The appropriate Government and the local authorities shall formulate and 
publish an action plan based on prioritisation, for providing accessibility 
in all their buildings and spaces providing essential services such as all 
primary health centres, civil hospitals, schools, railway stations and bus 
stops.
Here is the relevant section from RPD Rules, 2017:

CHAPTER VI: ACCESSIBILITY
15. Rules for Accessibility. — (1) Every establishment shall comply with 
the following standards relating to physical environment, transport and 
information and communication technology, namely:–

(a) standard for public buildings as specified in the Harmonised Guidelines 
and Space Standards for Barrier Free Built Environment for Persons With 
Disabilities and Elderly Persons as issued by the Government of India, 
Ministry of Urban Development in March, 2016;

Thanks to Amiyo Biswas for extracting this specific information on Access India. Let’s spread the word and work towards implementation of RPD Act.