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Dhaka Tribune

Impacts of GAAD on promoting smart accessible digital service

In Bangladesh, the Disability Innovation Lab of a2i is leading the path towards implementation of digital inclusion and accessibility

Update : 18 May 2023, 06:24 PM

As the world becomes increasingly digital, it is crucial that we ensure everyone has an equal opportunity to access services regardless of their disabilities. To celebrate equality, the Aspire to Innovate (a2i) program is leading the way in celebrating the 12th annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) on Thursday, with a series of exciting and engaging events.

Under the theme of “keeping technology accessible for everyone”, a2i has organized a variety of events aimed at promoting awareness and education around the importance of accessibility and inclusion. From virtual conferences to social media campaigns, a2i is pulling out all the stops to make this year's GAAD celebration one to remember.

In Bangladesh, the Disability Innovation Lab (DIL) of a2i is leading the path towards implementation of digital inclusion and accessibility in line with Article 9 (accessibility) and Article 21 (freedom of expression and opinion, and access to information) of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), working tirelessly to ensure that people with disabilities can access digital technologies and services, including web, e-service, and digital banking without any barriers.

The DIL of a2i has been instrumental in making the government's largest e-learning platform, Muktopaath, accessible to persons with disabilities. This platform has been an essential source of education and training for many, including people with disabilities. In addition, the a2i has also worked to ensure that the National Portal MyGov is accessible to everyone.

Another impactful initiative of the a2i is the National Help Line 333, which has been constructed to enable people with disabilities to access informational services. The Help Line is accessible through various communication methods, ensuring that people with disabilities can easily access the support they need.

A2i's most significant achievement has been the creation of the Multimedia Talking Book, which has enabled students with disabilities to access primary and secondary education on an equal footing. In addition, the a2i has developed an accessible dictionary that enables people with disabilities to explore new knowledge, which is a critical step in promoting equal access to education and learning opportunities.

A2i has also been piloting inclusive university initiatives, including making reading materials accessible to all. These programs have been incredibly successful in promoting inclusive education and ensuring that people with disabilities are not left behind in the learning process of higher education. One such program was initiated by Chittagong University, which worked to create an inclusive education environment for everyone.

A2i has already made significant contributions towards achieving the goals of Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) by working on web accessibility and designing web accessibility widgets to ensure equal access for everyone, including persons with disabilities. By developing banking accessibility and web-accessibility plug-ins, a2i has helped to create a more inclusive and accessible digital landscape where people with disabilities can participate fully in society. The contributions of a2i to the achievements of GAAD are a testament to the importance of accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities, and their work serves as an inspiration for others to follow.

To create awareness and share insights into how people with disabilities live their lives, the DIL of a2i has designed a disability and digital inclusion training (DDT). The DDT helps stakeholders understand inclusivity and promotes the need for equal access to digital technologies for everyone.

In conclusion, the Disability Innovation Lab of a2i is doing a significant role in promoting accessibility and inclusivity for persons with disabilities in Bangladesh. The efforts have been instrumental in making digital smart services accessible for everyone, including people with disabilities, and have played a vital role in building a more inclusive society. As we observe Global Accessibility Awareness Day, let us all remember the importance of promoting digital accessibility and inclusion for everyone and continue to support initiatives like the DIL that work towards achieving inclusive Smart Bangladesh.

The writer is a person with visual disability serving as the national accessibility consultant for the a2i program of the government of Bangladesh.

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