We launched the findings of our research on ICT accessibility for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in Myanmar on 21 August 2018 at ParkRoyal, Yangon. This was LIRNEasia’s first foray into systematically studying the subject, but will not be the last. Research from Nepal is to be released before the end of the year. We decided to embark on this study in Myanmar following questions on disability specific research from the audience at courses we conducted for Disabled Persons’ Organisations (DPOs) and Members of Parliament when we presented the findings of our broader research on ICTs in Myanmar. As a result, we conducted qualitative research with 101 respondents with visual, hearing and physical disabilities in May 2018.
Now that the telecom markets in emerging Asia have matured and now that the potential of easily deployable apps is within reach because of the fast spreading smartphones, we must make access by the disabled a priority. The key to independent living is technology. Our current work in Nepal, supported by the Ford Foundation, has accessible and inclusive access as the principal focus. The workshop held 16-17 March in Kathmandu sought to prioritize the problems amenable to ICT solutions. This will feed into a pre-hackathon being organized March 18-19 at the Tribhuvan University Institute of Engineering, Pulchowk Campus: Here are some reflections on problems faced by the disabled in Nepal which are amenable to ICT solutions.
Workshop on ICT Accessibility for Persons with Disability Event for disabled people’s organizations and media 12-13 December 2017 Yangon, Myanmar Myanmar Independent Living Initiative (MILI), established in 2011, is a self-help organization led by disabled persons that has been working at various levels and fighting for equal rights, inclusion and independent living of people with multiple types of disabilities in Myanmar. MILI promotes disability access in employment, education, health, disaster-risk reduction, social-enterprise, social, political, electoral and public sectors. LIRNEasia is a pro-poor, pro-market think tank established in 2004. It has been working on catalyzing policy change through research to improve people’s lives in the emerging Asia Pacific by facilitating their use of hard and soft infrastructures through the use of knowledge, information and technology. Myanmar ICT Development Organization (MIDO), established in 2012, uses Information and Communication Technology (ICT) as a tool for the development of the country by narrowing the digital divide in Myanmar; using ICT for the country’s development and the safeguarding of human rights; and encouraging the emergence of good Internet policies for ICT users.
LIRNEasia research fellow, Nuwan Waidyanatha, will be part of a panel discussion on ‘Rapidly Reconnecting the Disconnected in Disasters‘ at the Asia Pacific Regional Internet Governance Forum to be held in Bangkok from 26 to 29 July, 2017. The session, titled “Cry for Help!” is meant to expose participants to low-cost, easy-to-use tech and foster an environment which challenges experts through dialogue and participatory exercises. “Rapid Restoration of Access to Telecommunication” (RREACT) – AP is highly susceptible to disasters. Telecommunications, as a critical infrastructure, is vital for crisis management.
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.