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National Conference on: Harnessing technology for the empowerment for the persons with visual impairments

by Prasad Krishna last modified Feb 03, 2014 10:38 AM
Dr. Nirmita Narasimhan participates as a speaker at this event. The event is organized by NIVH.

Click to read the complete agenda published by NAB Centre for Blind Women & Disability Studies


Background Note

As we all are aware, Assistive Technolgy has played an unprecedented role in equalizing opportunities and in improving the quality of life of people with disabilities in last few years, with solutions helping in the elimination of barriers in all kinds of environments.

However, inspite of the advanced development, the Assistive technology for the VI has been confined to special devices leading mostly to disparate solutions. These devices also are most often rendered incompatible with the quickly changing technological landscape interfacing with all sectors of development, making it unaffordable or obsolete for people with disabilities to communicate with the highly digital and networked society in the contemporary world. This disparity further isolates the disabled population calling out for a more holistic approach to make the mainstream technology accessible from the designing stage.

Moreover, increasingly all services in every sphere of life, be it employment, education, communication, entertainment, civic participation, or government functions are moving either primarily or exclusively online worldwide.

While for PWDs, the Internet has a great potential to enhance their freedom to access goods, services and information independently through online services; a sizeable population of people especially with visual impairment are increasingly finding it difficult to access online services and information due to design barriers. This is becoming an alarmingly serious issue in the near future, considering the engagement of vital sectors like banking and publications with technology.

We already face a rate of unemployment that is more than 3 times as high as the rest of the population and experience similar gaps in educational achievement. High levels of inaccessibility on the Web and Internet-enabled mobile technologies are threatening to exclude people with visual impairment even further, who experience disability from the information society.

The potential of an accessible Internet is immense which could not only increase the inclusion of people with disabilities and facilitate online education, telework, participation in e-government, but also would enable social relationships that overcome barriers and challenges presented by the physical world.

We are, therefore, in a situation of necessity, to harness the enormous prospects of technology to create an empowering, economically progressive and inclusive society, with a new approach to implement the public policy to eliminate the virtual barriers that are in place, ensuring that people with disabilities are not marginalized.

The need of the hour is to develop an accessible technology plan to

  • Define the accessible technology strategy,
  • Identify requirements,
  • Design, develop, and purchase technology,
  • Implement and Train in a timely manner

The national conference on ` Harnessing technology for the empowerment for the persons with visual impairments’ being organised by the NIVH, a premier Institute of Government of India in the field of visual disability functioning under the administrative control of Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment to be held on 19th Nov 2013 aims to create opportunities of exploring the potential of inclusive solutions which are designed to serve all people regardless of their physical abilities.

  1. The conference would bring together best practices models from India and abroad. It would facilitate interaction between the inclusive design experts for online services & accessible information and the officials from all levels of government and PSUs. The conference will in particular address the problems and potential solutions with reference to access to banking services, web and online services, access to documents and publications in digital, Braille and audio formats, and access to Digital Television
  2. On the sidelines of the conference, a small exhibition will display a range of products hardware and software rendering possible solutions.

It is understood that all the participants invited to this conference have a critical role in the implementation of legal commitments and policy decisions for creating an accessible, enabling and empowering environment in which people can access all the services and information intended to benefit all citizens of the country.

Draft agenda

9:00 – 9:30 a.m.: Registration
9:30 a.m.- 10:20 a.m.: Inaugural Session
9:30 a.m.: Felicitations
9:36 a.m.: Lighting of Lamp followed by a devotional song
9:40 a.m.: Welcome address by J.S. DDA and objectives of the Conference
9:45 a.m.: Address by Secy. DDA
9:55 a.m.: Key Note address
10:15 a.m.: Vote of Thanks by Director NIVH
10:20-10:40 a.m.: Tea Break
10.40 a.m.: Plenary Session 1
11.40 a.m.: Plenary Session 2
2.15 p.m.: Plenary Session 3
4.00 p.m.: Plenary Session 4

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