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My take on Relationships and disability – story on NewzHook.com

February 20, 2018 • Srinivasu Chakravarthula

In this story on NewzHook.com – only media that focuses on disability in India and publishes news in accessible way, I have shared my thoughts on relationships and disability including a personal experience.

This story may may provide inputs on what precautions to be taken while choosing a life partner. Read more on NewzHook.com

If you have an experience or idea to solve such incidents, do feel free to leave a comment.

Visually impaired, will travel!

January 4, 2018 • Srinivasu Chakravarthula
This is a guest post by Divya and Ritu of BAT Travels

The visually impaired also need a holiday. A holiday that treats them like equals. Disability tour or disability travel may not be the answer. Inclusive travel, most likely, may be. The lesser conversation we have about how different the disabled people are from able-bodied, the better it is. In fact, the conversation should be, how alike we all are, disabled or able-bodied. And therefore the need to go to a new destination, unwind in the new vibe, and come back learning a thing or two about an earlier unknown place, is universal. Also is the need to take a break from the people we meet every day and the workplace we mundanely show-up at every day.

Our Indian society and the family structure sure has its own merits. And the demerits are also not less. While the kinship is strong and the support system helps in raising a family. So are the clutches of control. Parents bring up kids to be obedient. Answering back is not appreciated. In their argument, parents garb it all under the cloak of care and for-your-good. But unless you let the child attempt a flight, you won’t know how high it can go. For parents with children having one form disability or the other, there’s a fine line to operate around. Too much protection and the child won’t discover his or her individuality. It will always remain a child and will have to be taken care off. On the other, pull back a hand to let it find its own footing. And of course, not to oversee the emotional toil all this takes on the parent. Amidst all this, letting the child choose a holiday of his or her choice is like passing a bill in a coalition government. Not a smooth sail for many.

You could say that I don’t know anything about disability since I haven’t grown up with a family member who is disabled. Yes, I haven’t. But you know what, am a social underdog, because am a woman. And as a social underdog, I understand the sentiments of other social underdogs. And to win in this society, the underdog has to rise up and claim what is truly his or her. So yes, I get you. Having said that, I know that you have more barriers to cross than me. So no, am in no way mitigating your battle by comparing it to that of mine, a woman.
Coming back to travel. The theory is that pre-historic human beings travelled from one landmass to the other to discover and explore new lands. This slowly led to the inhabitation of the whole planet. This theory, in a way makes us give more credit to the urge to travel. We need not shrug travel away as a luxury. In fact, it’s a basic human need. One that runs in us since pre-historic times.

The travel industry is growing exponentially. It is creating more jobs and more revenue for the government and stakeholders. The social media too is throwing up more photoshopped and filter-added images at us than ever before. We all want to go on that cliff and watch that sunset. Or to that tourist destination and eat that meal. Looks like everyone is travelling. Where are the social-underdogs as far as travelling is concerned? The ideal holiday-er is able-bodied husband-wife with a child or two in tow. Fits the social description of the ‘right kind of people’. They snuggly fit-in in the social weave. We, the ones who are not within the structure created by the society, somehow flutter away the calm of a hotel reception. Because we come in all permutation and combination that disturb the simple minds and ask for a change in the rules. We travel with a group of friends and family hotels see us as hooligans. With a boyfriend and girlfriend we become the immoral ones and forcing the check-in staff to ask, “how are you two related?” As gay/lesbian couples, well, nothing like that exists in India. And as a disabled traveler, how can you be travelling?

Those who feel that visual impairment is a great hindrance when it comes to travel, have surely not heard of James Holman. In 1832, he was the first blind person to circumnavigate the globe. When he set out to circuit the world, it was unheard of a lone traveler to do so. Blind or not. He had what every blind person does, a sense of the surroundings through vibrations. A Sense of the World is the name of the book written on his adventures. The description of the book reads as: He was known simply as the Blind Traveler. A solitary, sightless adventurer, James Holman (1786-1857) fought the slave trade in Africa, survived a frozen captivity in Siberia, hunted rogue elephants in Ceylon, helped chart the Australian outback—and, astonishingly, circumnavigated the globe, becoming one of the greatest wonders of the world he so sagaciously explored. A Sense of the World is a spellbinding and moving rediscovery of one of history’s most epic lives—a story to awaken our own senses of awe and wonder. Holman lost his sight at 25, but he didn’t lose his spirit.
Like James Holman, we all just need to be more open to newer experiences. Most of the time the comfort that familiarity brings is too drawing and warm. One doesn’t want to deviate from the known. But how about testing yourself with the unknown. Try an experience you have always said no to. And not because it is an adventure sports. No. I mean the kinds that you think won’t interest you. Like a drag performance, or a painting exhibition. Or a trip to Siberia. Sign up for it. Newer experiences not just enrich our lives. Here the motive is also to claim our spaces in the world. So go out to places you haven’t been to and own the space. We, the social underdogs, need to be seen more.

Travel has its own set of benefits too. When you travel to newer places and indulge in newer experiences, you are out of your comfort zone. In such situations, the mind gets more creative, developing new neural connections and triggering original and creative thoughts. The new smells, sounds, sights and places require mental processing. You are giving a new puzzle to your brain to play with. As read on TripSavvy: After stepping away from home for a while, you’ll return with renewed energy, a new set of mental filters, and ready to take on the next big project or challenge. Call it a life reboot. Getting away for some time, even though it requires effort, will greatly enhance your attitude and productivity once you return home. Sure, you may have some mail piled up and matters to attend, but those are simple challenges easily knocked out. Breaking up the monotony for a while is a great way to reduce stress and give your life an injection of excitement. Don’t be surprised if shortly after your return, you’re already counting down days until the next trip!
Most travel also doesn’t go as per plan, such situations helps one face the uncertainties of life. It is also a great tool to self-discovery. Know your limit, know your expanding interests and also know the human being you are evolving into. And like Mark Twain has famously said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness”, meeting people from different cultures is also a myth-buster. Sometimes for the flair of writing or to make a story sound interesting, certain quirks are added in the process of story-telling. Travelling helps one shed these. Like India is more than a land of snake-charmers and magicians with the rope-trick. There’s a famous movie on this very theme, Ankhon Dekhi. Sanjay Mishra is playing the protagonist not believing everything at face value. It is hilarious, and thought provoking in the same breath.
Also when you travel, you are uninhibited, and will most likely be your real self. The fear of being judged is non-existent. Conversations flow easily and the probability is that you will open up your real self faster too. So the chances of you making real friends are on the higher side.
When we travel in groups, we do a mix of sighted and VI people. More than anything else, we all get travel-pals. All our tours are also designed to be highly sensorial. So the tour is intriguing enough for all onboard. Do check some of our tours on http://battravelsonline.com/tours/ Also, when you go in groups, somehow you become easily acceptable, socially. It’s is like people in mixed groups are no longer a danger to the society. Stereotypes, I tell you.

Nominations Open: 18th NCPEDP – Mindtree Helen Keller Awards – 2017

September 8, 2017 • Srinivasu Chakravarthula

NCPEDP is one of the pioneer organization that encourages inclusion through recognizing role models. While it’s pride for individual to get recognized, purpose of such awards is actually to motivate others around awardees. Here is an announcement from NCPEDP for upcoming 18thNCPEDP Mindtree Helen Keller Awards 2017.

As you are aware, National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP) is a non-profit voluntary organisation founded in 1996 working as an interface between various stakeholders – Government, Industry and Civil Society Organisations (both national and international) for the empowerment of persons with disabilities.

NCPEDP has long believed that inclusion at workplace plays a pivotal role in the accomplishment of equal opportunities for persons with disabilities. Started as a discourse in 1999, NCPEDP launched the Helen Keller Awards to identify exemplary work towards the cause of inclusion. Over the many years, these Awards have come to be recognized as the most prestigious Indian benchmark for honouring people and organisations that have worked towards a barrier-free, non-discriminatory and inclusive India.

2017 will see the 18th edition of the NCPEDP- Mindtree Helen Keller Awards which are given in 3 categories:

Category A: Role Model Disabled Person
Category B: Role Model Supporter of Increased Employment Opportunities for Disabled People
Category C: Role Model Companies/NGOs/Institutions

The Concept Note along with the Nomination Forms is attached. We have also enclosed last year’s commemorative brochure for your reference.

We would really appreciate if you could please nominate deserving candidates/organizations and also, help us disseminate the Concept Note along with the Nomination Forms to all individuals/organisations in your mailing lists.

The last date for sending nominations is Saturday, 30th September, 2017. Please send us your nominations at secretariat.ncpedp@gmail.com.
Source: Email received from NCPEDP

I encourage readers to nominate deserving people. Nomination forms can be obtained from NCPEDP Website.

Wishing all the nominees best of luck. Thank you Mindtree for supporting such a great initiative.

Update: GST on Disability related aids and appliances – still need some rollback

June 21, 2017 • Srinivasu Chakravarthula

Due to energetic and continued efforts put in by disability activists and others across the country, there has been some progress. Here is a quick updated shared by Mr. Javed Abidi of NCPEDP.

Based on the 16th GST Council meeting, the rates have now been revised and are as follows:

  • Braille Typewriters – 5%
  • Braille Paper – 5%
  • Braille Watches – 5%
  • Braillers – 5%
  • Carriages for disabled people – motorised or not – 5%
  • Orthopaedic appliances, including crutches, artificial parts of the body, hearing aids, etc. – 12%
  • Cars for physically disabled persons – 18%
  • Even though the rates for some goods have been reduced from 18% to 5 %, it is still not enough! These goods were not taxed earlier. Therefore, we are demanding for a complete rollback of the GST rates for ALL disability goods! #RollbackGST4 PwDs

I would support that at least for daily needs for people with disabilities should be exempted by GST. I would argue that cars for people with disabilities could be counted as an essential due lack of accessible transport system in the country.

Let’s continue the momentum and pressure Government to Roll back GST on disability related aids etc.,

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India is driving towards inclusion… STOP discrimination

May 13, 2016 • Srinivasu Chakravarthula

On public mailing lists and social media, I have recently came across a few incidents of discrimination of people with disabilities that prompted me to write this post.

First one is about Punjab National Bank, who is troubling a potential customer who happens to be blind to open a Bank account. In spite showing Circular issued by The Reserve Bank of India [PDF], bank has declined to open an account and provide facilities like Cheque Book, debit card etc., Bank says that they would require customer to sign on a declaration stating something only customer is responsible for safety of the account. Why? does the Punjab National Bank asks every customer to sign such a declaration? If so, there is no problem. But insisting a customer with blindness only to sign such declaration is rather awful and violation of RBI guidelines. In a conversation with a good friend, Prashant Varma, who happens to be an advocate and a man who brings in innovative assistive solutions to visually impaired community, I figured out that while some banks are cooperative enough and adhering to RBI guidance, most banks are creating internal circulars that are discriminating and causes inconvenience to customers with disabilities.

Secondly an incident at Delhi University; where a student who wishes to take up examinations using computer was asked to show if there were anyone who took the exam before using computer. Again, why do they need some precedent to consider a reasonable accommodation? Even if they need, it’s responsibility of University to investigate the same. Or consider the case as first instance. I think user of computers makes life easy for both candidate and those who evaluates. It does not incur any cost too as one can use an open screen reader NVDA and sure there would be computers in the university. In fact, instead asking student about precedent etc., it would be cool for universities to come up easy method to conduct examinations in consultation with experts in disability sector and adopt the same.

Let’s understand that India has signed and ratified United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2007 and currently promoting Accessible India Campaign in a big scale. Let’s consider including all stakeholders in the mainstream and it’s time for us bid farewell to discrimination.

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Should I disclose my disability in resume? – my prospective

March 13, 2016 • Srinivasu Chakravarthula

One of the thread taling about if a candidate should or should not mention their disability while writing resume?. Thought I would put my prospective here so that it may be helpful to many more.

While I agree with my friend Sameer that it’s important to disclose disability to employer, my take is that it should not be done at the resume level. Because the fact is that even today, we have majority of companies who are not sensitized towards people with disabilities. Mostly, first filtering of resumes will happen at recruitment team and that too by Junior level analysts. We cannot expect them to have knowledge about diversity, disability etc., There would be more chances that they may think Oh, this candidate has disability and may not fit to our requirements. While there are also chances that they ignore the disability part.

But it’s also important that we disclose disability as early as possible and definately before in-person interview. Certainly there would be one or two telephonic conversations before a personal interview and during these conversations, candidate would also get an opportunity to understand level of how much the employer is sensitized; if employer is sensitized, remaining process would be easy and if not, we may need to have more conversation.

Reason it’s essential to inform before the interview to ensure employer does not get surprised (Yes, it’s true even today people get surprised to see a person with disability using a computer or a mobile device) and also enable employer to provide any reasonable accommodation during interview process itself. For instance, if there is a written test using paper and pencil, they may convert same into use of computer.

Further I would also recommend that it’s candidate’s job to inform employer as to what kind of reasonable accommodation is needed and at this point, it’s important to think from employer prospective and advice as affordable solution as possible. Else, there will be chances of delay as sometimes employer would not know what we may need and they may end up spending time on researching.

Good luck!

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Disability and terms used

December 28, 2015 • Srinivasu Chakravarthula

I have been following a hot discussion on social networks about terms used to mention “disability” of a person. In the recent speech of Mann Ki beat by Shri. Narendra Modi, Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, he has appealed country to call people with disabilities as “DIVYANG”; which means a person with divine abilities and this has triggered community of people with disabilities to think through.

For several years there are words used like Blind, Visually Handicapped, Physically Handicapped, Deaf and Dumb, Mentally rEtarded, Mentally Handicapped etc., and there wasn’t much of a problem though term sounds a bit rude. But for a bout a decade or so, people started using terms like “Challenged, differently abled, special needs, specially abled” etc., These terms have absolutely no meaning. Let’s take a few words and see their meaning:

  • Challenged: Let’s say “visually challenged” – what are they challenging? are they challenging vision loss? Challenging means you are oppose to something and you are willing to prove it wrong. Can people with vision impairment drive a car and win challenge with vision loss?
  • Differently abled: Well, what are the different abilities do people with disabilities have? It’s only that that they rely on assistive aids and adopt to techniques but there is “different ability” that exist to people with disabilities. In fact, this term should be used to anyone who has a unique ability.
  • Special needs: OK, every human being needs something or other different than everyone else and not only people with disabilities expect something special. Yes, people with disabilities need assistive aids and technologies but for that matter everyone need something or the other differently. Even when traveling, a few travel in second class, a few travel in First class; do we call travelers in first class as travelers with special needs?

Now coming to word “Divvying” as suggested by The Prime Minister Mr. Modi. From the speech, my understanding is that Mr. Modi’s intention is to let the world know though some people have limitations with one organ, they may have extraordinary power with another organ. And probably with his nature of spiritual mindset, his thinking may be right. I believe, his meaning is that as people with disabilities rely on other organs more to adopt to their limitations and it’s God who have provided strength to accept limitations.

That said, it’s really not essential to work too much on refining these words instead should spend time to improve infrastructure, policies and much more needed things to empower people with disabilities. It’s right sign that India has started Accessible India Campaign and it’s time to push for passing of New Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill which is due for a long time.

As far as words are concerned, I think one should just go with “People with Disabilities” as mentioned by the United Nations. Moreover, it’s not the words that really matters but how we are including people with disabilities into the mainstream is the key.

So let’s get back to work and focus on much needed initiatives.

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NGOs, let’s be smart; it’s 2015!

June 11, 2015 • Srinivasu Chakravarthula

It was in 2010, I wrote a post on how I would like to see disability organizations and we are now in mid of 2015; but I don’t see any much change.

I got a call from a disability organization (I prefer not to mention the name) and person who called me is their employment officer; whose responsibility is to identify suitable jobs for their clients and the conversation goes as follows:

Me: Hello, this is Srini here
Caller:Am I speaking to Srinivasu
Me: Yes, you are
Caller:Hello, my name is xxxx and I have recently joined xxx organization as an employment officer
Me: Okay, how can I help you?
CallerAs I said am an an employment officer working for a disability organization, does your organization have any job openings?
Me: Well, there would be plenty of job openings but what kind of jobs are you looking for?
Caller: You know we work for people who have some sort of disability so do you have any openings that they can take up?
Me: Okay, I’m sure people with disabilities can take up wide range of jobs, so can you please tell me what skill set does your candidates have and what kind of jobs are they interested in?
CallerAny job sir
Me: (I got a bit annoyed); what do you mean by any job? there might be CEO or Chairman job would be available, do you have any candidates? You should tell me what kind of skill set your candidates have and what are their interests? I would suggest please go back and work on specifics and we can then talk…
Caller:Ok (and hangs up… doesn’t even say a thanks:-()

Ah! the person called me from very far from Hyderabad and I’m sure she would be calling several people from across the country; which means she would be investing a lot of money on phone calls that too without any preparation.

Come on guys, we are in 2015 and there are so many opportunities. Let’s the NGOs upgrade the way we work and provide quality services.

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How the visually impaired can use a computer?

January 9, 2012 • Srinivasu Chakravarthula

Thanks to NASSCOM Foundation for publishing my below article.

Most often, people have a question – can a blind person use a computer? If so, do they need a special keyboard or a special computer?

Before answering this question, let me take an example of a typist who never looks at the keyboard but can type with speed and accuracy. How is it possible? Practice! Yes, it’s the same in case of people with vision impairment. They just need to be trained. They do not require a special computer – all that they need is assistive technologies.

Firstly, let us understand that vision impairment is of two categories:
1. Total Blindness
2. Low vision

Definition of blindness: http://www.nfb.org/Images/nfb/Publications/fr/fr19/fr05si03.htm

A person who is totally blind would be able to use the computer with the help of screen readers or Refreshable Braille Display. A screen reader is a software application that attempts to identify and interpret what is being displayed on the screen (or, more accurately, sent to standard output, whether a video monitor is turned on or not). This interpretation is then presented to the user with text-to-speech, sound icons, or a Braille output device. Screen readers are a form of assistive technology (AT) potentially useful to people who are blind, visually impaired, illiterate or learning disabled.

A Refreshable Braille Display or Braille terminal is an electro-mechanical device for displaying Braille characters, usually by means of raising dots through holes in a flat surface. This would be useful to those who are blind or deaf-blind. Because of the complexity of producing a reliable display that will cope with daily wear and tear, these displays are expensive. Usually, only 40 or 80 Braille cells are displayed. Models with 18-40 cells exist in some notetaker devices. A person with low vision would have to opt to use screen magnification software that allows the user to increase / decease the size of elements, change the contrast, use variety of mouse pointers etc.

With the help of these kind of assistive technologies, users with vision impairment can use almost all the applications in any computer such as word processing, spread sheets, presentations, internet, email clients, web designing tools such as Adobe Dreamweaver,programming tools like Visual Basic, .net, database management systems etc.

Although, they rely on audio output, they can work at an amazing speed! All this is possible since assistive technologies provide them the flexibility to read only the information they require. Let’s look at an example of how one can navigate through a web page using a screen reader – Non Visual Desktop Access (NVDA) – a free and open source screen reader.

  1. Press “Windows” logo key to activate the start menu
  2. Activate option “Run” and type the choice of application e.g. Firefox
  3. Once the Firefox application starts, press “Alt + D” to access the address bar
  4. Type choice of URL, e.g. http://www.yahoo.com

Now let’s understand how the screen reader actually reads. There are several ways to navigate the page using screen reader:

  1. By using the down arrow key to read the entire page.
  2. By using the “Tab” key to browse through the elements such as links and hit enter to activate the desired element.
  3. By using quick navigational keys such as H and Shift + H for headings, K and Shift + K for links, F and Shift + F for form fields, G and Shift + G for graphics,etc.

Also, most of the screen readers such as NVDA offer list of elements in a dialog box such as with NVDA, by pressing Insert + F7, user can revoke elements list box that consist of links, headings and ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications) landmarks.

As explained above, users will have a lot of flexibility with these assistive technologies and can perform operations at a rapid speed!

Some of the popular screen readers:

Tip: If you are don’t have time to download the screen reader, but need a screen reader to surf the Internet, just visit http://webanywhere.cs.washington.edu and type the web address, and it will read aloud for you!

Now, let’s talk about people with low vision. Around 60% of people with low vision do not possess enough level of vision to see the monitor and for some, this vision may not be stable. Hence they prefer to use screen readers to avoid strain of the eyes. But the other set of low vision users use Screen magnification software to use the computer. Some of the feature that a screen magnifier have are:

Zoom-in and zoom-out the screen
Set the desired contrast for foreground and background
Increase and type of the mouse pointer
Adjust the speed of mouse pointer
Some have screen reading feature as combination

Some of the popular screen magnifiers:
– Dolphin Supernova, Commercial – http://www.yourdolphin.com
– ZoomText Xtra, Commercial – http://www.aisquared.com

To conclude, with the help of assistive technologies, a person with vision impairment can use computer for everything like any other user!

Thousands of Websites; all are citizen centric; but are they accessible to all citizens – a review

October 17, 2011 • Srinivasu Chakravarthula

Reproduced from CIS Accessibility Blog Thanks CIS for the opportunity.

Today, there are about 7800 Central and state government websites hosted by the National Informatics Centre (NIC). They are all certainly citizen centric – whether it is the Ministry of Finance, banks, the passport authority, educational board, transport, consumer affairs, or the most important website that generates revenue for the government – the Income Tax Department.

However, the question which we need to ask is whether these websites are up-to-date and accessible to everyone? Internet is often more useful to people who are elderly and for people having disabilities.

What does accessibility really mean? Accessibility is nothing but ensuring that information and functionality is available to all users including people with disabilities. The Accessibility Guidelines identify an accessible website as one which can be perceived, operated, understood and is robust. Today, thanks to the advancement of technology, people with disabilities are able to use computers and perform every task that others do. For example, a visually impaired person uses the screen reader to access the computer; a deaf blind user uses a refreshable Braille display, hearing impaired persons rely on captions to understand the multimedia, learning disabled users rely on image based content and elderly people prefer to see large fonts and so on. In addition, there are lots of features available in the browser itself. For instance, in Firefox, we can increase the font size by using key combination of CTRL and Plus and can also change the contrast of the page.

Having said that, website owners need to follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 to enable people having disabilities and elderly persons to surf the web more effectively. In India, the Government of India and the state governments need to follow the Guidelines for Indian Government Websites (GIGW) formulated by NIC.

A brief survey of some 1500 of these websites revealed that barely one per cent of these meet the requirements of the above guidelines. Many of them are not up-to-date and some don’t even reflect government identity that could actually make users think of authentication.

The websites were checked for their elements and their mark-up; which means, audit was conducted to see text alternatives for non-text elements such as images, videos, buttons, etc. Other criteria were the presence of heading structures, associated labels for form fields, grouping of form elements, keyboard access for navigation, slide shows and other media, links and image maps. The test also checked to see if rich functionality works with keyboard and on text browsers; whether flash content works well with screen readers and documents are verified for accessibility; in addition, websites were checked for the color contrast.

The methodology used to test the websites was a combination of automated and manual testing. The initial testing was done using the automated evaluation tool WAVE, a Firefox add-on which checked for errors and features, structure, outline of the website, simulation of text version and simulation with no styles. This was followed by a manual check for appropriate text alternatives, heading structure, form labels, colour contrast, etc. The test revealed that most of the websites were not accessible, merely due to the lack of semantic mark up and common errors, some of which are described below:

  • No text alternatives for images – Without text alternatives, neither screen reader users nor search engines and those who disable display of the images on the browser can perceive information about the image.
  • No associated labels for form fields – Without associated labels, screen readers will treat the form fields as orphan form fields with no labels and read them as “unlabelled”fields. Hence, it will be impossible for visually impaired users to fill in those forms.
  • No heading structure defined – This would create an issue both for search engines as well as persons with disabilities. Assistive technologies such as screen readers usually have access keys for users to quickly navigate a page, which rely on the mark-up.
  • Deprecated Marquee has been used – This is a deprecated element in HTML and ought not be used anymore.
  • No keyboard functionality for flash content and drop down menus – Without keyboard support, people with mobility limitations and visually impaired or elderly users and those who do not wish to use the mouse cannot perceive the information.
  • Not enough government identity is present – It is GIGW’s requirement that all government websites should display government’s identity through emblems.
  • Several websites have poor color contrast – This will prevent people who are elderly and persons with low vision from easily identifying the content of a web page.
  • Several websites have used table based layouts – This is not the best practice to control the layout; one should use Cascading Style Sheets (CSS).
  • Information is cluttered in some well known websites such as that of the Income Tax department – It will be difficult to perceive information easily by people who are elderly, who have low vision, have learning disabilities and those who surf the web through mobile devices.
  • Several websites do not have a mechanism to send feedback – It is again a GIGW requirement that every website should have such a mechanism.
  • There is no mechanism to skip the navigational module – This is an extremely useful feature to help screen readers and keyboard users to skip navigational links and directly access the main content.
  • No accessibility options such as large text or color schemes are provided – This would be helpful to less experienced users who are as yet unaware of in-built browser options.
  • Several forms do not have a mechanism for error handling – It is necessary to inform users about errors before submitting the form.
  • Several websites do not have appropriate page titles – Page titles help users to know where they are on their computer.
  • Many websites do not have site map – This is an easy way to have access to all the pages at one place.

Hence, there is a lot to be done to actually enable every citizen to use these citizen centric websites. There are guidelines in place at http://web.guidelines.gov.in and it’s time for every ministry to ensure successful implementation and to make their portals accessible to all.

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