International Day of Persons with Disabilities 3rd December

3rd December of every year is observed as International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Objective of observing this day is to raise awareness about people with disabilities and bring them to the mainstream. As we are gearing up to mark International Day of Persons with Disabilities, I would like to spend a few minutes and pen my thoughts how lives of people with disabilities have changed over a few years.

Before technology came into existence, people with disabilities has to depend on support for almost everything. May it be a blind person who would like to read a printed material, may it be a person loco-motor disability who wish to go for shopping, person with hearing impairment, who wish to communicate etc.,

Technology has addressed a lot of problems and brought independence to lives of people with disabilities. Today person with blindness can have access to digital books, convert any printed material to digital format and read independently, there are libraries like Bookshare and Sugamya Pusthakalaya, who brings together efforts of accessible books, access the wealth of information around the world, communicate to their friends and relatives using digital channels. Through the advancement in technology, opportunities for employment in the mainstream have been increased.

Again, with the advancement of technology and evolving e-commerce industry, it has become lives of people with loco motor disabilities more independent. Most of the shopping malls are inaccessible to wheel chair users; though a few brands have recently introduced Shopping Assist programs, it is still not as joyful as shopping independently. Online shopping has made this possible whereby users can shop from their location and things get delivered. Most importantly, online marketplaces may have more options than those available in the physical stores.

But what is lacking is that though there are advancement in assistive technologies that enable people with disabilities to access the technology, most of the technologies remains inaccessible; this is because due to lack of awareness about accessibility. There are enough resources available but what is important is that introduce those resources to developers at the stage when they actually learn to code! Accessibility and standards should be incorporated in the mainstream technological courses at school, college or whoever offer technological courses.

There is also a part that has to be played by users with disabilities. When user finds something unusable, write a detailed note to the app developer and keep following up until there is a response. While reporting, ensure to include some resources that helps them in resolving the issue. Another advantage of providing resources is that adds encouragement for developers to investigate the issue.

To conclude, here is an idea – starting this month, let’s meet one developer a month and educate them about accessibility and let’s see how many people we could impact by International Day of Persons with Disabiolities in 2018.

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