Monday, June 8, 2020

GAAD 2020 : Accessibility during Crisis

Like every year we got together for GAAD, this time online, with people from across the globe to talk about the one thing that unites us - our passion towards an inclusive world.

A week later, as I think of all the GAADs we have come through and all the milestones we have covered, I can't help but go back to the roots of where my accessibility thoughts were born. I was inspired by an aunt who spent a big part of her life helping people with disabilities live with dignity. She was herself inspired by a personal loss in her life. I meet many people like this who are either inspired by profound incidents or their own necessities to learn what accessibility is and work towards inclusivity. The strange things about current times is that everybody is facing accessibility issues at this moment.

The past few weeks we have all been trying to live under limited infrastructure, making the most of things and any technological support has been lifesaving. The same is what we have been aspiring in the area of accessibility. To be able to make lives easier by simple and much needed changes. Just like how from today, every IT service and product will consider a Covid like situation as contingency to work through, so should we consider accessibility as a parameter that all our IT should seamlessly work with.

The past few months have seen innovators think more deeply about psychological aspects of working under limitations, assistive technologies that can help mitigate such situations etc. And this is what we have been advocating through GAAD every year: that technology be made to suit working under limitations and caters to humans across all spectrums.

This year's GAAD brought in so many thinking points to ponder over, in all these areas. The psychological aspects of working under different circumstances, technology empowerment at a cognitive level, the importance of technology in helping create environments of positive mental simulations, building interfaces that are easy to use and connect to. We discussed how we believe that designers and developers should have that empathy and not assume that everyone they know is starting from where they're starting from. There were in-depth discussions about products and services that are currently available in the market that have helped people through these tough times and how these features are also accessible features. It reiterates the message we have conveyed in all GAAD events. Make services and products accessible not to cater to a particular crowd but to improve its overall efficiency and acceptance. We talked about how students are coping and learning through Covid times, and how this area poses a growing interest area for ideators and entrepreneurs who can identify and build solutions to cover gaps. We talked about challenges, learnings, policies, initiatives and way forward. And I could see the silver lining of the Covid times, because now inclusivity and accessibility is everybody's need of the hour. I can't wait for GAAD 2021 to see all the new milestones we would have collectively achieved towards universal inclusion."

- Anuradha Biswas



 

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