Innovation that empowers | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 19, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:28 AM, January 19, 2019

Innovation that empowers

Govt's a2i stall showcasing products for people with disabilities at Dhaka trade fair

At first glance, it looks like an ordinary auto-rickshaw with three wheels.

Upon closer inspection, it seems a bit different. The vehicle has only one handlebar and one seat instead of two behind it, which gives an impression that it's either defective or unfinished.

The lone handlebar also provides a mounting place for controls such as brake, throttle, clutch and horn. The vehicle runs on solar energy instead of battery.

This auto-rickshaw is specially designed for people with physical disabilities and it's being displayed at the month-long Dhaka International Trade Fair.

Amid the array of stalls, Access to Information (a2i) programme under the government's ICT division is showcasing the vehicle called “Solar Powered Tri-Cycle”.

A total of 10 items, designed and developed under the programme, are being exhibited at this year's trade fair. Not just for people with disabilities, some items can be used by all for everyday purposes.

The products are being showcased to let people know of the government's initiative in this regard, according to the authorities concerned.

“If anyone wants to buy these, they can leave their contact information and we'll get in touch with them,” said Zakir Hossain, a staffer at the stall. He said the government took this initiative to inspire youths in generating ideas that can contribute to the country's development.

There is an option on the a2i website for people to pitch their ideas, he said.

The stall is also displaying a device that looks like a smart phone, developed for people with speech impairment. It uses touch screen technology and a user can avail various services through it.

The device has several preset directions (in text format) stored inside, which a user can choose upon need. For example, if a speech-impaired person needs to use bathroom or wants medical assistance, he or she can select an already built-in instruction from it.

The device would then read it aloud for others to listen and subsequently assist that person.

There is also a device for visually-impaired people, especially students, consisting of audio books in Bangla and English.

Besides, the stall is also showcasing a “smart cane” to assist visually-impaired people walking alone in new environment. The cane takes inputs through an obstacle sensor and provides feedback through a vibration motor.

The stall is also selling solar-powered LED lights.

In addition, volunteers at the stall are helping people download applications such as “JOY” (an app for women and children to seek law enforcers' help) and “e-Parking” (an app to find parking spots).

The stall is generating much curiosity among visitors, particularly youths, who were seen browsing through the products.

“It's a good initiative by the government. But it has to be patronised properly so that everyone could be benefited from the innovations,” said Zahid Hossain, a private university student.

Export Promotion Bureau under the Ministry of Commerce has been organising the trade fair since 1995.

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