It has been three years since the Prime Minister’s Office sent out orders but key Government websites continue to remain inaccessible to people with disabilities, says an evaluation done by BarrierBreak Technologies.
Websites such as the National Portal of India (http://www.india.gov.in), Ministry of Tourism (http://www.tourism.gov.in), Ministry of Human Resource Development (http://www.mhrd.gov.in), Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (http://darpg.nic.in) are still inaccessible to persons with disabilities in general and those with visual impairment, print impairment and hearing impairment, according to a release issued by the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP), for the evaluation was done.
While most people these days book cinema tickets, shop, file tax returns, apply for passports and book rail tickets through the Internet, millions out of the 70-100 million people with disabilities, find this an impossible task, the NCPEDP said.
“We have written to the Prime Minister expressing our concern and demanding immediate intervention,” Javed Abidi, Honorary Director, NCPEDP, said.
He said the issue of inaccessible websites came to the fore in 2009 when NCPEDP took up the matter, after which the PMO intervened. Guidelines by National Information Centre (NIC) were then issued to make all websites in the public domain accessible and disabled-friendly, but in vain.
He said persons with disabilities use different assistive technologies to browse the web. But, if the websites are not constructed as per the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), the assistive technology fails to read them, thus, barring such persons from access.
As per the NIC guidelines, called the Guidelines for Indian Government Websites (GIGW) mandate, all Government websites should conform to the international accessibility standards, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0.
Abidi said on NCPEDP’s request, BarrierBreak Technologies had conducted an audit of 10 Government websites, and found out that not a single one of them was truly accessible.
The survey evaluated the level of accessibility of different Government websites at the Central as well as State level. The websites were chosen on the basis of the accessibility claims stated on their web pages to verify if these sites were actually accessible for persons with disabilities, Abidi said.
Shilpi Kapoor, Managing Director of BarrierBreak Technologies, said “It is sad that out of around 7,000 Government websites, even the few that claim accessibility, don’t meet the international standards.”
NCDEP said this was a gross discrimination against persons with disabilities and a shame for a country that boasted to be a superpower when it came to information technology.
Keywords: government websites, govt websites, BarrierBreak Technologies, World Wide Web Consortium, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, disabled friendly, assistive technology, National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People,