Accessibility & Technology for All

Name: Sunil Mathew

Organisation: Society for Rehabilitation of the Visually Challenged

Country: India

Stakeholder Group: Institution

Thematic Area: Access

Session Title: Accessibility & Technology for All

Session Format: OPEN FORUM (30/45/60 MINS)

Co-organizers Name (if any):

Speakers Name: Sunil J Mathew

Speaker Status: Invited

Relevance of the issue with specified session theme: Access to technology is a key area for people with disabilities. Technology helps bridge access requirements especially among the visually challenged and elderly. The need of the hour is develop assistive technology (sensor based) that can help improve the lives of the millions all made accessible at low costs. With the two diverse sections – the visually challenged and elderly community benefiting from assistive technology, there is a mass audience estimated of over 300 + Million worldwide. In India alone, the combined audience is 165+ million, the world’s largest blind population being in the country. With a number of low end devices (non-smartphones) available which don’t work the way the visually challenged community wants and braille devices being expensive, the key is to ensure that the technology is made available with the customised features (sensors etc)

Content of the session (Objective of the session): Building low cost assistive technology solutions (customized sensors with Apps) catering to the visually challenged and elderly. Build a sustainable ecosystem of service providers and developers around assistive technology devices including back-end support systems and offer reliable support services. With the Accessible Apps making an impact across the target audience, combined with customised sensors which can detect motion, acceleration, gravitational and gyroscope (prototype phase)will allow the target audience to add these to everyday used items and help Dementia, Alzheimer’s and visually challenged users across live independent lives. The idea to build ‘Accessibility Mobile Solutions’ concept came about through the experience of the founder, Sunil J Mathew, having worked with visually challenged community over the past 15 years. Through Sunil’s experience of having worked with the visually challenged community through his charitable organization Society for Rehabilitation of the Visually Challenged ‘SRVC’ (www.visuallychallenged.com) since 2002, and having closely interacted with the community to understand their technological needs and also help setup a social sector startup (www.sightica.com) which is pioneering technology development work – the team includes a visually challenged Java developer in the team too – having previously won the mBillionth Asia Award (Netradaan – India’s first eye donation App in 2015, also, featured in India’s top startups working in the Disability space in 2016 http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/trend-tracking/startups-products-for-disabilities/articleshow/53468249.cms

What is USP of the session: Building an eco-system for developers and architects to contribute to code and help develop accessible solutions for the visually challenged and elderly users. Aim would be to improve the quality of life of the visually challenged and the elderly (over 65 years of age) over 300+ million market worldwide and empower them to lead an independent life. The key is to make apps accessible and bring in App features which the community can use and benefit from. With a number of low end devices (non-smartphones) available which don’t work the way the visually challenged community wants and braille devices being expensive, the key is to ensure that the technology is made available with the customised features (sensors etc). The unique aspect of the idea (several apps already released) and the customised sensors (work in progress) will help solve the most important requirement of independence and self-confidence. This will also motivate the developer community to work with Accessibility Standards Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) which part of a series of web accessibility for developing apps & software which will have a wider impact that are as per the guidelines published by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and help in Inclusion.

Please describe how you will use your speakers and how their views/ perspectives /expertise will be included in the session: A bigger group of like-minded speakers and a core group will help discuss and scale the opportunity that lies maybe the best way to scale the work and help have this reached out to the masses. The need of the hour is to address the requirements of the mass market in less developed countries and the Apps + sensors that can be combined will help reach out to this large audience. Developing accessible assistive technology solutions for the visually challenged and elderly market worldwide to improve quality of life and bring in inclusion at an affordable low cost model. The Speakers can also present their points of view and give ideas to contribute towards building accessible solutions and the ideas can help solve a number of current requirements.

How are you bringing diversity in your proposed session whether it is relevant to the specified theme? By including all different groups of speakers and by helping develop Assistive technology solutions that can address the masses (elderly, blind, women etc.) – the session will address the requirements from across all different areas of society and the session can constructively help develop a resource pool which can discuss and develop solutions. The key is understanding the requirements from the masses and addressing this with specific requirements – and bringing in Foundations and Government support to scale up the innovations and solutions.

Relevant Tags (Minimum 3 tags) inclusion, assistive technology, accessible technology