Information and communication Technology (ICT) is an enabling technology that provides access to information. If it is not properly planned, managed and implemented it might lead to social gaps or to `digital divide’. People with disabilities in Bangladesh have already been lagging far behind in terms of mainstream development as well as in socio-economic and cultural activities. In order to create optimum ICT accessibility for the people with disabilities in Bangladesh, a well-coordinated and collaborative effort is inevitable.
Defining disability and accessibility
Recognising that access to information is a basic human right, United Nations Economic and Social Commission (UNESCAP) in the Asian and Pacific region convened a seminar in June 2002 with an aim to draw, ‘Recommendations on Policy/Legislative Guidelines concerning Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Accessibility for Persons with Disabilities in the Asian and Pacific Region.’ To address the digital divide faced by persons with disabilities in the Asian and Pacific region and to promote the digital opportunities of persons with disabilities, the participants in the seminar have adopted a set of recommendations including the definitions of ‘Persons with Disabilities’, ‘ICT’ and ‘Accessibility’.
According to the recommendations ‘Persons with Disabilities’ means the persons who have limited access to and usage of information and communications technology due to their visual, auditory, physical, cognitive/intellectual, neurological, psychiatric or other types of disabilities. ICT means all digital as well as analog technology and services that supports human communication, creation, collection and dissemination of knowledge, and other activities for manipulation of information and, ‘Accessibility’ means the measure or condition of things and services that can readily be reached or used (at the physical, visual, auditory and/or cognitive levels) by people including those with disabilities, which could be achieved through design and/or adaptation irrespective of any types of disabilities.
The recommendations of the seminar ‘Biwako Millennium Framework (BMF)’ for Action towards an Inclusive, Barrier-Free and Rights-Based Society for Persons with Disabilities in Asia and the Pacific (2002)