The web should be more accessible for visually-impaired
Speakers at a webinar yesterday demanded special technologies and methods to make websites of different organisations more accessible to people with visual impairment.
They also said that although there are active web portals in 353 upazilas of 57 ministries of the country, most of the government web portals and company web pages in the country are not usable for persons with disabilities.
The webinar, titled "Web Accessibility for Persons with Disabilities" was organised by Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF), in collaboration with non-government organisation Young Power with Social Action (YPSA) and Bangladesh Visually Impaired People's Society (BVIPS).
Vashkar Bhattacharya, consultant on disability at the government's a2i programme, presented a report titled "Web Accessibility Report by Identifying Gaps and Barriers with Recommendations and Guidelines" at the webinar.
Vashkar shared the common barriers that persons with visual impairments face, such as, they do not have access to appropriate keyboard, cannot read Bangla in the PDF file format or enter security and captcha code, or read tables and charts. There is no alternative text for the image and much more.
He also shared some adaptive technologies, such as mobile, screen reading software, screen magnifier, Braille display, and specific apps on smartphones for persons with visual impairments.
According to Vashkar, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) in its article 9 and 21 mentioned that the state should take necessary measures to promote access for persons with disabilities to new information and communications technologies and systems, including the internet.
The World Wide Web Consortium has also developed some technical guidelines, through which it is possible to create universally accessible and acceptable websites, he said.
The speakers also demanded that web portals must provide alternative texts, diagrams and flow charts to understand any image, and the texts must be in Bengali Unicode so that the contents can be understood even without downloading any other font.
In addition, there should be easy subtitles, transcripts and layouts.
According to them, since Bangladesh is committed to fulfilling the global goals by addressing the rights of persons with disabilities, web accessibility must be ensured to provide equal benefits to all citizens.
MJF executive director Shaheen Anam, University Grants Commission's additional director Maksudur Rahman Bhuiyan, YPSA chief executive Md Arifur Rahman, and Centre for Disability in Development (CDD) executive director AHM Noman Khan, among others, spoke at the event.