Microsoft India today hosted its first-ever Accessibility Summit (#ThinkAccessAbility) in the country to enhance technology access for people with disabilities.
The summit aimed at demonstrating the business value of accessible technology for organizations, the need for a collaborative effort as well as assessing policy’s role in creating an accessible India. The summit brought together leaders from the government, non-profit organizations, filmmakers, entrepreneurs and budding technologists to present their views and best practices around accessibility and technology’s potential in aiding inclusion.
Shri Navreet Kang, Secretary, Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India, said, “We believe that inclusion of persons with disabilities is imperative for India’s growth. It is therefore, critical that we empower them with equal access and opportunity. We look forward to public-private partnerships that can enable better social inclusion and help people with disabilities achieve more.”
Speaking at the summit, Shri Jayesh Ranjan, IT Secretary, Department of IT, Electronics & Communication, Government of Telangana, said, “Our vision is to ensure that persons with diverse abilities have equal access to the physical environment, transportation, information and communication technologies, and to other facilities and services. The Microsoft Accessibility Summit provides an ideal platform to bring together policymakers and influencers to understand the policy environment and chart a direction for making life, experiences and opportunities accessible to all.”
A platform to discuss, imagine and bring new perspectives for innovative use of technology
Through a series of constructive sessions, the conference focused on the role of technology in creating accessible businesses, scalable and sustainable models for skilling youth with disability. It also examined how assistive technologies can help in treating Autism Spectrum Disorders and Special Learning Disabilities (SLD). There was a special focus on the need for regulatory policies for innovation on accessible technologies and inclusive hiring practices.
Technology innovations for driving accessibility
The summit featured unique technology-based projects that empower people with disabilities. These included innovations from non-profit organizations, assistive technologies developed by Microsoft partners as well as Microsoft solutions. A young team of three students from IIT Kharagpur showcased White Cane, a personal assistant device for the visually impaired, which they have developed as part of Microsoft Imagine Cup.
Speaking at the conference, Madhu Khatri, Associate General Counsel and Accessibility Lead, Microsoft India, said, “A market-driven ecosystem is the best environment for encouraging greater accessibility for all users. The Summit is a significant step forward in advancing our efforts towards sensitizing stakeholders and partners on the need for the business and social value of accessibility.”