Make internet more accessible to the disabled: rights group

January 5th, 2009 - 7:24 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 5 (IANS) In order to make the internet more accessible to all, including the disabled, a rights group has asked for adoption of web accessibility standard which has already been adopted in a number of other countries. “India had ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Oct 2007. However, no move has been made till date to adopt or make mandatory web accessibility guidelines in our country,” Javed Abidi, director of the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP) said.

“Consequently, a lot of government and private web sites are inaccessible for persons with disabilities, defeating the very purpose of Information and Communication (ICT) for development,” he added.

According to Abidi, countries like the US, Britain, Canada and Australia have enacted laws which make it mandatory for creators of web pages to follow the minimum standards so that they are easily accessible to all.

“It’s not a huge task to increase the web’s utility so that everyone can take advantage of it. Web page creators can take care that text descriptions are provided for those pages which contain images and graphics which cannot be understood by screen readers. Key board alternatives for every function which has to be executed with a mouse can also be of great help,” he said.

Some other suggestions like avoiding colours to convey any meaning and creation of links so that a screen reader can directly go to the content page instead of getting confused with a whole lot of directions would also help in making the web more accessible to the disabled, he added.

“Countries like Britain and Australia, which have a disabled population of 10 million and 3.9 million respectively, have successfully made web accessibility initiative. But India, with a much larger population of disabled people, at 21.9 million according to the 2001 census, has not made any such efforts.”

“It is important that a policy which not only requires government sites, but also the sites of all publicly listed companies, to conform to web accessibility standards,” Abidi said.

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