- Calls for proposals for funding projects should be widely publicised:
It was a common feeling of all the participants that even though there were several funds which could be tapped into for projects, there was little information about where these funds existed, how they could be applied for and used to fund different kinds of projects. Government should make more effort to ensure that information about funding opportunities should reach intended beneficiaries.
- Accessibility should be integrated into existing education projects:
While it is important to initiate specific accessibility related projects, it is equally necessary to integrate accessibility into existing projects such as introducing creation and distribution of accessible content in existing ICT school programmes.
- Focus to be given to training students with disabilities:
all the groups felt that training was a huge issue and that support for students through training was required. SSA Karnataka gave a good presentation showing how it addressed the issue of training on a large scale. The groups highlighted that the UNCRPD placed an obligation on the government to raise awareness amongst persons with disabilities.
- Priority attention should be given to the development of language based tools for all Indian languages, especially minority languages. This includes development of optical character recognition (OCR) and text to speech (TTS) software in different languages. This is critical for all levels and forms of education.
- Access to broadband services for persons with disabilities at affordable prices to be promoted to enable effective use of technology to access educational content.
- need to create accessible content and accessible open resources: . It was stressed that all study modules used by educators, and open educational resources must be in accessible formats in order to have the widest outreach to students. Cyndi Rowland gave an example where Federal grants would not go to programmes which created non accessible content.
- Public procurement should be used to promote accessibility.
- Government should focus on early intervention in education because very few disabled children actually enrolled in schools and even amongst those that enrol, a very miniscule percentage go on to complete secondary and higher education.
- Need to have a well developed ecosystem: All schools must be equipped with resources to teach disabled children.
- Solutions and teaching methods must be innovative and highly individualised. Common approaches to teaching disabled children are less likely to be successful.
- Periodic and ongoing trainings must be given to field practitioners with special emphasis on sharing information about solutions which have been successful or have failed in the past.
- Training colleges for educators should include a course on disabilities and education for students with disabilities.
- Children with disabilities in CBSE, ICSE and all state boards should get at least three years to complete class 10th and 12th examinations.
- Children with disabilities should be allowed to give examinations with computers and in formats of their choice.
- Each child with a disability should get compulsory training in the use of computers using appropriate assistive technology and be provided these technologies free of cost or at subsidised rates.
- The government should launch a mandatory ICT training programme for all teachers in rural and urban areas to train them in the use of assistive technologies.
- Course materials for all classes should be provided in digital and other accessible formats in all schools for children with disabilities.
- NMEICT should fund development of text to speech software in all Indian languages so that the vast majority of Indian children who cannot read or understand English can continue to study in their native language; it is strongly recommended that such development projects also be entrusted to companies and organisations directly who have expertise in this area and should not be conditional on working with an IIT, IISC or other similar institution. The NMEICT should also fund other projects for the disabled, such as for content creation and so on.
- It is recommended that the Digital Library project, which is a praiseworthy and extremely important project for creating open resources to all existing regional and English books should be made accessible since it has the potential to benefit a very large number of persons with disabilities. At the moment, the project involves all the steps which are required to create accessible books, i.e., scanning and OCRing, however, despite the fact that OCR is done, the books are still uploaded as image files and not as accessible word or text or html files which can be read using screen readers. If this were done and we had access to TTS in Indian languages, we would have access to all the traditional Indian literature and manuscripts, which are invaluable to a researcher.
- It is strongly recommended that the web sites of all educational institutions, both public and private should be made accessible so that persons using screen readers can access information about the courses, admissions, read about the organisations and apply on line for admissions. It is also recommended that persons with disabilities should be given the flexibility to take on line examinations and that these should be designed in an accessible manner.
- It is recommended that all educational institutions and libraries should be made physically accessible for persons using wheelchairs.
Enabling Access to Education through ICT – Conference Report
by Prasad Krishna in Accessibility Blog — Dec 16, 2010 09:58 AM