Monday, August 31, 2009

India plans for accessible ATMs, TV

From the Economic Times in India:

NEW DELHI, India -- Electronic devices like ATM machines that have made our lives easier are likely to become accessible to disabled people too.

The information technology ministry has approved a draft on National Policy on Electronic Accessibility prepared by an NGO and will submit it to the central government for approval.

Javed Abidi of the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP) along with technology experts submitted the policy draft to the IT ministry. After making certain changes, the ministry has decided to forward it to the central government for an approval soon.

Aiming at "creating equal opportunities in the electronic age", the plan has been chalked out to make simple things like withdrawing money from an ATM machine or watching the TV by a blind person or accessing a kiosk at the railway station by the physically handicapped possible.

According to NCPEDP, India is home to 50-75 million disabled people.

One of the three salient features of the policy is that the hardware of all electronic products should be designed, developed and maintained in such a way that it can be used by all, including the disabled.

The policy also states that all public documents like periodicals and brochures and educational text must be made available in accessible format for the disabled such as the Braille format for the blind or audio through an automated conversion process.

Greater awareness on disability and more funds on research for development of technological aids which will help the disabled access all services is also highlighted in the policy.

It further suggests that a committee, which will look into the implementation of the policy and monitor it, should be formed within a month of its adoption.

Besides government agencies, private companies should also adopt the policy recommendations, it said.