It will issue advisories on working towards accessibility
BANGALORE: Soon, the IT sector’s commitment to inclusiveness towards the disability sector will be etched in cyberspace. Industry trade body Nasscom (National Association of Software and Services Companies) will launch a dedicated portal that will facilitate recruitment for persons with disability by creating a repository of applicants, available skill-sets and potential recruiters. This was one of the key agendas at the first-ever meeting of the newly constituted Nasscom disability advisory group. Disability rights activists, who celebrated the creation of this 12-member group last week, are now ecstatic to see that the group — comprising Nasscom, industry members and civil society groups — means business.
Speaking to The Hindu, the group’s chairperson Pradeep Gupta said that the measures would work towards increasing employability for persons with disabilities. Further, the group decided that informative kits, prepared by the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP), would be circulated among Nasscom members to create awareness on existing initiatives. “ICT firms have their heart in the right place. Now, we will work towards getting the brain part right. There is no lack of will, but issues like accessibility (technical and physical) may not have been thought about. Our aim will be to build that awareness,” Mr. Gupta said. The group, with a tenure of two years, decided that Nasscom would issue advisories to its member companies. These advisories would be on physical accessibility (in accordance with guidelines submitted by NCPEDP on facilities such as ramps or lifts) and software or technical accessibility. It would focus on compliance of websites and electronic products with international standards. Javed Abidi, director of NCPEDP, believes that the creation of an industry forum can make an impact. Internationally, it is mandated that websites be WCAG. 2.0 Compliant (an international standard that ensures websites are disabled-friendly) and electronic goods are disability-friendly. “What has held us behind?” he asked.
Today, a year after the Union Government issued guidelines that all websites be disabled-friendly, only one of the 5,000 sites has complied, he said. “Even private Indian firms that ensure disability-friendliness while creating or servicing goods for the international market have for long practised double standards when it comes to domestic products such as mobile phones, microwaves or even ATMs. If this group can achieve that transition it will be worthwhile.” While this is not a diktat to companies, it will at least create awareness and sensitivity in the private sector. Nasscom president Som Mittal said that the group would work towards leveraging technologies to skill people who are differently-abled, so they could find jobs and employability in various sectors. “Accessibility can be built into the design. But the real challenge will be to work towards building technology that can facilitate better access and inclusivity. Also, several companies already have inclusive programmes, for employment and training, and we hope other companies will benefit from their learning through this forum,” Mr. Mittal said.