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An Overview of Accessibility Work (2008 - 2016)

by Nirmita Narasimhan last modified Sep 24, 2016 04:09 PM
India has an estimated 70 million disabled persons who are unable to read printed materials due to some form of physical, sensory, cognitive or other disability. The disabled need accessible content, devices and interfaces facilitated via copyright law and accessibility policies. CIS campaigns for change in this area.

The progress made over the years can be accessed below:



Policy Submissions and Feedback

  • CIS worked with the Department of Electronics and Information Technology and civil society and industry partners such as the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP), Microsoft Corporation, National informatics Centre (NIC), etc., to formulate and implement a National Electronic Accessibility Policy to ensure that all Indian information and communication technologies and electronic infrastructure (including the Internet) and research which is publically funded, is accessible to persons with disabilities. Nirmita Narasimhan was part of the policy drafting committee.
  • Accessibility in the New Telecom Policy 2011: CIS made a submission to the Department of Telecommunications, Ministry of Communications & Information Technology, Government of India on December 9, 2011. CIS was one of the 27 organisations that sent a joint letter requesting that accessibility for persons with disabilities be included specifically within the goals and objectives of the policy.
  • Pilot Project Scheme - Access to ICTs and ICT Enabled Services for Persons with Disabilities in Rural India: CIS worked with USOF of India to design a scheme to launch projects for persons with disabilities. CIS prepared a background paper for the USOF, compiled a comprehensive global report which was later published in cooperation with G3ict and helped to convene a stakeholders meeting in September 2011 to launch the scheme and invite project applications.
  • Comments to the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014 (Nirmita Narasimhan and Anandhi Viswanathan; October 30, 2014). The comments were submitted to the Parliamentary Standing Committee in October 2014.
  • CIS joined hands with Daisy Forum of India member Arushi in Bhopal to submit a request for a notification mandating that all communication by the Government of Madhya Pradesh should be accessible to persons with disabilities. The state government issued a notification in Hindi requesting all departments to comply with WCAG 2.0 and use Unicode font. Nirmita Narasimhan drafted this submission.
  • Accessible ICT Procurement: CIS along with 20 other organisations petitioned the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Information Technology, Govt. of India to bring in accessibility considerations within the draft Procurement Bill.
  • Comments to the GIGW (Nirmita Narasimhan; April 30, 2015): CIS submitted its comments to the National Informatics Centre for making Indian government websites conform to the notified standards of the Guidelines for Indian Government Websites.
  • Recommendations on Accessible ICT Procurement (Pranesh Prakash; May 9, 2016). CIS along with 20 other organisations petitioned the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Information Technology to bring in accessibility considerations within the draft Procurement Bill.


CIS is accredited as an observer at WIPO and regularly participates in the meetings of the Standing Committee for Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) held in Geneva. CIS is actively involved in matters being discussed there such as the TVI. As part of its work, CIS provides comments at the SCCR and advises the Indian government on these matters through policy briefs, research and interactive discussions and meetings. CIS has given several statements on Treaty for the Visually Impaired and prepared an analysis of the consensus document on an international instrument on limitations and exceptions for persons with disabilities with the Third World Network which was widely circulated amongst the negotiators at the SCCR. CIS’ statements at the SCCR in June 2013, July 2012, December 2011, June 2011, and November 2010 are available on the CIS website.

CIS took part in the WIPO Diplomatic Conference to Conclude a Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works by Visually Impaired Persons and Persons with Print Disabilities in Marrakesh, Morocco, June 17 to 28, 2013. The conference concluded with the adoption of the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons who are Blind, Visually Impaired, or otherwise Print Disabled. CIS's Closing Statement at Marrakesh on the Treaty for the Blind can be seen here.

At the national level CIS has been campaigning for right to read, attending meetings with ministries such as the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Department of Electronics and Information Technology, and the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, and giving feedback on the Copyright Amendment Bills. Earlier this year, CIS gave a detailed analysis of the Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2012 examining the positive changes and the negative ones.


  • National Workshop on Web Accessibility (Organized by CIS and Society for Promotion of Alternative Computing and Employment; September 25-26, 2009).
  • National Conference on ICTs for Differently Abled / Under privileged Communities in Education, Employment & Entrepreneurship — NCIDEEE 2009 (Loyola College, Chennai, December 1 – 3, 2009): The event was co-organised by Dr. A. Albert Muthumalai S. J, Principal, Loyola College, & Prof. J. Jerald Inico, Faculty In-charge, Resource Centre for the Differently Abled (RCDA), Loyola College, in association with NASSCOM, Computer Society of India and CIS.
  • CIS organized Right to Read campaigns in the 4 metro cities of Chennai Kolkata, Delhi and Mumbai. The campaign has gathered thousands of supporters and has succeeded in bringing the problems of the print disabled to the notice of policy makers and the general public.
  • EdICT 2010 (New Delhi, October 27 to 30, 2010): CIS in collaboration with G3ict, UNESCO, ITU, WIPO, The Deafway Foundation, DEF and SPACE and with the support from Hans Foundation and the Department of Information Technology, Ministry of Information and Communication Technology organised this event. Twenty-nine experts made presentations on a variety of topics, ranging from discussing challenges and solutions in educational institutions, to technology development and policy formulation and implementation. A total of 77 participants attended this event.
  • Websites Accessibility Evaluation Methodologies at Twentieth International World Wide Web Conference (Hyderabad, March 30 – 31, 2011): CIS co-organised this with G3ict and W3C. The panel discussed web accessibility evaluation methodologies and their challenges and technical survey methodologies alternatives. The panel was moderated by Nirmita Narasimhan and featured four speakers — Shadi Abou Zahra, Neeta Verma, Srinivasu Chakravartula and Glenda Sims.
  • ITU Tutorial on Audiovisual Media Accessibility (India International Centre, New Delhi, March 14 – 15, 2012): In cooperation with the ITU-APT Foundation of India, CIS hosted a two-day Tutorial on Audio Visual Media Accessibility from March 14 to 15, 2012 at the India International Centre, New Delhi, India.
  • Girls in ICT Day (Organized by CIS and Mithra Jyothi; Bangalore; April 25, 2013).
Internet Governance Forum

CIS has been organising workshops and participating regularly at IGF events since 2008 on topics like accessibility, access to knowledge, openness, internet governance, freedom of expression, etc. Details given below:


  • Nirmita Narasimhan was awarded the National Award for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities from the Government of India on December 3, 2010 on the occasion of the World Disability Day. The award was presented by Smt. Pratibha Patil, President of India under the Role Model category. The award function took place at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi and was telecast live on Doordarshan.
  • Nirmita Narasimhan received the NIVH Excellence Award from Justice AS Anand (retd), former chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, on International Day of Persons with Disabilities at the National Institute for the Visually Handicapped in Dehradun on December 3, 2011. The Tribune covered the award ceremony.
  • Girls in ICT Day 2013 (organized by ITU-APT Foundation of India with support from CMAI - Association of India Communication and Infrastructure, FICCI Auditorium, Tansen Marg, New Delhi, May 7, 2013). Dr. Nirmita Narasimhan got a felicitation for her contribution and achievements in the field of Information and Communication Technology. The honour was conferred during the celebration of this event.
  • Nirmita Narasimhan won the NCPEDP-Mphasis Universal Design Award in the "Persons with Disabilities" category. The awards aim to raise awareness about accessibility.

Articles and Interviews

Media Coverage

Nirmita Narasimhan gave inputs to the following media coverage:

NVDA and eSpeak

Hans Foundation is funding CIS to do a project on developing a text-to-speech software in 15 Indian languages over a period of two-and-a-half years. Following are the monthly programmatic reports indicating the progress made in the project:

Monthly Reports







Training Programmes

Following are the reports of the training programmes that were conducted across several locations in India:

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