Providing assistive technology to the end-user through educational institutions is a major challenge. Techshare India brings together assistive technology solution makers under one roof.Shahid Akhter | ETHealthWorld | 29
In today’s technology driven age, and with campaigns like Digital India, Made in India and Smart Cities, people with disabilities cannot be forgotten, says Shilpi Kapoor, Managing Director of BarrierBreak. In an interview with ETHealthworld, Shilpi talks about the role and accessibility of assistive technology during the 5th Edition of Techshare India, to be organized on the 3rd and 4th March in New Delhi. Edited excerpts :
Techshare India has been in vogue since 2010. How has been the journey so far ?
Techshare India 2010 was the 2nd conference on accessibility and an exhibition on assistive technology. The first one was in the year 2008 when BarrierBreak organized the conference and assistive technology exhibition in New Delhi which was the first ever Accessibility and Disability conference to be organized in India. Techshare India received an overwhelming response from disabled people, NGOs, corporate sector and Government bodies where we managed to get a Guideline for Indian Government Websites.
In India awareness about various assistive technology available for people with disabilities is very less. Techshare India has managed to bring together assistive technology solution makers under one roof.
In today’s technology age, and with campaigns like Digital India, Made in India and Smart Cities, people with disabilities cannot be forgotten. It’s time to focus on whether these technology solutions can be used by the disabled population of a 100 million in India. It doesn’t matter whether it is Website, Mobile Apps or Wearables.
The 5th Edition of Techshare India, will be organized on the 3rd and 4th March, as a 2 day conference and exhibition at New Delhi.
What are the highlights of Techshare India 2016 ?
The 5th edition of Techshare India will focus on enhancing equal access through the theme “Towards Digital Inclusion”. At Techshare India 2016 there is an esteem line up of 50 expert speakers from India and globally who will be sharing their knowledge from Department of Disability Affairs, Accenture, Microsoft, Adobe, Daisy Consortium, eBay, Paypal, NCPEDP, Enable India, TCS, Mobile Manufacturers Forum. The exhibition will have 30 organizations showcasing products and solutions that can be empower people with disabilities.
What impact do you forsee ?
The event tends to build awareness, identify needs, and provide solutions and implementation strategies to create an inclusive environment for people with disabilities. It will bring together entire eco system of disability stakeholders- corporates, NGO’s, governments, students, special educators under one roof. It will introduce the latest assistive technology from across the globe.
What is the role of assistive technologies in supporting disabled learners ?
Assistive technology can include any hardware, software and devices that can help people with disabilities in their day to day tasks. We can use communications devices such as AAC to speak and interact with a person having speech issues at the press of a button. For a person with visual impairment we can use screen readers that can read out what they are typing. They can also “read” a book, by scanning it, OCR-ing it and having the words spoken out to them.
Simple solutions such as captioning visual content or providing sign language can help a person with hearing impairment or the deaf. Adaptive mouse or keyboards can help a person with physical impairment access the computers or control his environment as anyone else.
The Indian market for disability- assisting devices and technologies is pegged at Rs 4,500 crores. However, it is largely untapped. Why so ?
In India, the awareness level about various assistive technology available for people with disabilities continues to be very less. Moreover, providing assistive technology to the end-user through educational institutions is a major challenge, since the cost of assistive technology can be prohibitive.
Reason behind the creation of Global Elevate ?
We believe that there is innovation that is happening in the accessibility & assistive technology domain, but most of the time the awareness and the market reach of the solutions is limited. Also accessible solutions can create great impact if they go beyond the geographies and there are so many products that have helped people with disabilities in multiple countries though the initial need might have been by a few countries. It isn’t about the US, India, UK but these solutions need to be internationally known. So we initiated Global Elevate Awards with a hope to spread awareness and help reach the solutions to the people who really need them.
How do you intend to involve the various healthcare tech innovators at Techshare ?
We would like to have healthcare innovators come forward and show interest. In the past we have helped ‘Diabeto’ incorporate accessibility in their hardware device along with an iOS app that helps to manage Diabetes data with ease. We hope that this will surely inspire other healthcare innovators to consider including people with disabilities in their target audience and make their products and services Accessible for all.