12 September, 2022
Reading Time: 6 Minutes
According to the World Health Organization, over 1 billion people worldwide have disabilities (https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/disability-and-health) and are impacted by inaccessibility. We hear often about accessibility. It is used as a buzzword to give the impression of inclusivity, however, it doesn’t really hold up in practice. What steps can Bangladesh take for changing the scenario, and make our services more accessible?
For those unfamiliar with accessibility, it is defined as “The practice of designing products and services so that they may be utilized by anybody, regardless of disability.” Designers should attempt to accommodate all users, regardless of their specific situation or limitations.
The question still remains, why are accessibility concerns such a low priority and one of the first things to be deleted from projects when resources or time are limited? The truth is that many individuals are unsure where to begin. Because accessibility isn’t part of the design and development process, it’s frequently disregarded. WebAIM analyzed one million home pages for accessibility concerns in 2022 and discovered that 96.8% of them had at least one WCAG 2.0 failure (WCAG, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 provide recommendations to make web content more accessible).
As accessibility is a human right, it should be a requirement rather than an option to include in the design element. If the design is inaccessible, a user won’t be able to provide a fantastic user experience. Inaccessibility should be a thing of the past if empathy is actively applied in designing online platforms.
Global Accessibility Awareness Day Bangladesh:
Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) raises awareness about inclusive digital access for more than one billion people with disabilities worldwide. It has been celebrated in different countries of the world since May 2012. This year 19 May 2022 (Thursday) Bangladesh celebrated as Global Accessibility Awareness Day to inform and open the door for inclusive digital (web, software, mobile apps, etc.) accessibility and digital technology that may help people with different disabilities.
Bangladesh for the first time with the joint collaboration of the a2i Program, the Department of Information and Communication Technology and the Ministry of Social Welfare, celebrated Global Accessibility Awareness day in solidarity with the event worldwide. Honorable State Minister of the Ministry of Social Welfare was present as the Chief Guest at the event held at the Auditorium of Bangladesh Computer Council (BCC) at ICT Tower with Deputy Country Director of UNDP Bangladesh, Chief Innovation Officers of all Ministries / Departments of the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, representatives of selected non-governmental organizations providing important services, representatives of various governmental and non-governmental organizations working with disabilities, various donor agencies, and various banking financial service providers and various prints. , representatives of electronic and online media were present as guests. The event, hosted by the a2i Program’s Project Director, featured guests and experts providing valuable feedback on the significance of the day by emphasizing the importance of web or e-service accessibility. The event was hosted by Mr. Manik Mahmud, a2i’s Head of Social Innovation Cluster.
Mr. Md. Nahid Alam, Head of Customer Innovation Lab (CIL), a2i Program, demonstrated the strategies Customer Innovation Lab is pursuing to make public services citizen-friendly and accessible for all. In addition to that, he indicated how CIL will provide assistance with the accessibility of websites, mobile apps, and digital services. Afterward, Vashkar Bhattacharjee a National Web Accessibility expert showcased some of the most accessible and inaccessible websites and digital services in Bangladesh. At the same time he showed, the National Portal, which is still in the process of accessing the website, demonstrating all the obstacles to its accessibility.
Towards Accessibility in Bangladesh:
Celebration of Global Accessibility Awareness Day is just the beginning of the awareness program for accessibility of Digital Public services. Accessibility is critical to the success of any website or app. It is required by law in our country to design for accessibility, but failing to do so will prevent millions of individuals from utilizing the vision of digitizing Bangladesh. The current state of accessibility leaves much to be desired, but if each individual, whether a policy-maker, designer, developer, or user, took it upon themselves to advocate for accessibility, we would be that much closer to a more inclusive future.
Bangladesh is evaluating the accessibility of public services and private enterprise products or services by conducting an accessibility audit. Bangladesh can start from scratch, create awareness, and hold policymakers responsible by implementing policies and guidelines. There are a variety of free online tools that can assist us in getting started with an accessibility assessment.
Bangladesh promotes digital accessibility by working on the following five activities:
• Ensuring that web technologies are user-friendly.
• Establishing accessibility guidelines
• Creating tools to assess and improve accessibility.
• Performing outreach and education
• Collaborating with the research and development department
By celebrating GAAD and accessible Bangladesh by being an accessibility advocate, a difference can be made as a community, and can capacitate digital Bangladesh in becoming more accessible.