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Push for accessible tech, inclusivity for PwDs at national conference

Push for accessible tech, inclusivity for PwDs at national conference


Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 10

The sixth conference on ‘Empowering Persons with Disabilities through Accessible and Assistive Technology’, organised by ASSOCHAM, the oldest apex chamber of the country, took place in the Capital, spotlighting the theme ‘Innovation and Sustainable Solutions for Equal Opportunities’. The event underscored the critical role of accessible information and communication technologies (ICTs), physical infrastructure, transportation and employment opportunities in enhancing the lives of persons with disabilities (PwDs).

Rajesh Agarwal, IAS, Secretary, Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, highlighted the importance of inclusivity and education for PwDs. “Every fourth family has a child with disability, and although society is becoming more inclusive, we need to do a lot more to ensure inclusivity,” he said. “The government has policies in place for providing employment opportunities to PwDs, but I believe employment opportunities in large numbers will have to come from the private sector. Education is important as it will help them become independent and ensure their all-round development. Use of devices like braille displays, speech-to-text software, specialised keyboards and software solutions have emboldened PwDs and made them exemplary professionals,” he added.

Anil Rajput, Chairperson of the ASSOCHAM National CSR Council, emphasised the transformative impact of assistive technology on PwDs. “Assistive technology has taken on a whole new dimension — giving voice to the previously voiceless, hearing to the deaf and greater mobility than previously available,” he said. “Empowering persons with disabilities with the confidence to achieve seemingly impossible goals, assistive technology has provided them with devices to excel at workplaces and prove their mettle,” he added.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is playing a catalytic role by augmenting assistive devices’ capabilities and personalising experiences. This advancement in technology is making a significant difference in the lives of PwDs, enabling them to navigate their environments more efficiently and independently.

Rajput highlighted the need for collaborative efforts to make these technologies more accessible and affordable. “According to the WHO, 16 per cent of the world’s population, which is over a billion people, have some form of disability, and 80 per cent of these live in developing countries. With mobility being a critical factor in the lives of PwDs, I appeal to automobile manufacturers in India to bring in the latest technologies in vehicles for disabled people,” he said.

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