We are inviting Proposals from potential Bidders to conduct a nationally representative study of ICT access and use in Nepal with special focus on the disabled. The full RFP is downloadable below. Please also see our Technical Proposal Template, Financial Proposal Template, and Sample Locations before submitting the proposals. Deadline for submissions is 29 January 2018.
Professor Gregg Vanderheiden has a record of achievements in enabling the differently abled to use technology such as personal computers and automated teller machines. Through Raising the Floor, an international organization that he established, Professor Vanderheiden is working on an ambitious initiative to create a platform that will make it possible for various interfaces to “morph” into forms accessible to users with disabilities (which includes many people who are not so identified ordinarily). For the interfaces to be fully responsive to the unique needs of each of the users, the platform would have to know about their preferences and behaviors. Raising the Floor is taking the issues of putting in place strong safeguards for these data and to ensure that harms are avoided. For this purpose, they convened expert groups in Geneva and Washington DC.
Ranging from the incredible advance of teleuse documented by two surveys conducted by LIRNEasia and MIDO to the potential of ubiquitous smartphones for making the lives of Myanmar’s disabled citizens better, Helani Galpaya summarizes the work being done in Myanmar since 2013 on MTV, a business-news channel. She touches on the need to work on digital literacy and talk about how we have been informed policy in Myanmar since 2013. 12 minute interview aired on MTV
This past week, a three-day tech camp for persons with disabilities was held in Yangon. Around 50 participated in this tech camp representing different disability organisations. Half of the participants were from Yangon, while the rest of the participants were from other areas of Myanmar.   Htaike Htaike Aung of MIDO, with help from our invaluable disabilities  consultant Nirmita Narasimhan, made a well received presentation on how ICT applications in the local languages can be used to make persons with disabilities (any disability) more independent. This was a continuation, and one of the most gratifying outcomes, of Nirmita’s work in Yangon a few months back during which both Htaike Htaike and I received a superb training in how ICTs can be used to make information societies more inclusive.
I am in Myanmar with Disability Access Expert Nirmita Narasimhan of the Center for Internet and Society to initiate work on one component of our Myanmar as an Inclusive Information Society project. It is said by the experts in making devices and services accessible to those with disabilities that it should not be thought that such actions make things worse for “normal” users. So no wonder this piece from the Economist caught my eye: Robert Bosch, a German producer of car parts, among other things, recently displayed a touchscreen with “haptic feedback”. Visual effects, sounds and vibrations are already used with touchscreens to confirm when icons or keys are selected. What the Bosch system does is to add different surface textures to the mix.
In early April, Nirmita Narasimhan, Program Manager on accessibility at the Center for Internet and Society based in Bangalore, visited Sri Lanka at LIRNEasia’s invitation. Below is an excerpt from her reflections on the visit and her interactions with the Telecom Regulatory Commission, the ICT Agency and the Jinasena Trust: Why is there such a communication gap between persons with disabilities and the policy makers? Even in India, we come across projects where the government of India is spending precious funds developing technology which they feel is required for the blind, while the blind in fact are already using more advanced technology. For instance, there is a project of the government to develop a special browser for the blind, when the blind and visually impaired are already navigating the internet using screen readers like Jaws and NVDA. My meetings with the regulator and other agencies confirmed for me that persons with disabilities in Sri Lanka and India are facing similar problems.
There wasn’t much of a problem with the disabled back in the old days. They were kept behind closed doors, so there was not much demand for accessibility in public places and such. Things have changed, for the good. Now, in the developed world, every part of a building must be accessible by wheelchair. Pedestrian crossing make a noise in addition to just the color signal.