Disabled people are facing problem in accessing websites as Indian government is not strictly following the regulations set to make the website disabled-friendly and accessible. In February, Indian government had assured that at least 50 important government sites would be made disabled-friendly and accessible but so far only few sites have made an effort. “We were pressurizing the government earlier this year to adopt WCAG 2.0 for making all Indian websites accessible to people with visual impairment.
We were inspired by the prompt response from the Ministry of IT, when it made a declaration making all important government websites disabled-friendly. This has motivated us to expand our horizons beyond web accessibility, and we are now looking at the entire domain of electronics and ICT to enrich the lives of persons with different forms of disabilities,” says Javed Abidi National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP) to Business Standard.
There are certain things that are expected to be followed by websites that will make them disabled-friendly. Website should include an ‘ALT’ attribute for all images and image map hotspots. Users should be able to tell where links are taking them without having to read the surrounding text. Text links should be distinguished from regular text in a way that is consistent, and does not rely solely on color. There should be no frames in web pages. Websites should also provide accessible alternatives for interactive and multimedia content.
Many countries like the U.S., Canada, Australia and the UK have enacted legislation to make it mandatory for creators of web pages to follow the minimum standards for accessibility. Access to information is mandated by the United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) that India has ratified and also by the Disability Act, 1995. Even after so many acts, no concrete action is taken by the Indian government. Out of more than 5000 Indian government site, only few sites like india.gov.in and bharat.gov.in are accessible to the disabled people. If government websites don’t follow the guidelines then government cannot force thousands of other private websites to do so.
Abidi points out that Common Admission Test (CAT), which is given to get admission in the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) – which will be a computer-based test this year completely ignores the interests of students with disabilities. But the Indian government appears to be finally waking up to these problems and has created draft National Policy on Electronic Accessibility (NPEA). Indian government realized that persons with disabilities are being excluded and thereby facing discrimination. The Department of Information Technology is discussing the draft NPEA which is prepared by the NCPEDP along with BarrierBreak Technologies. Once the core group approves the final draft, it will be put up for comments on the internet for a month, after which the final draft policy would be submitted to the government for approval.