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India Internet Governance Forum 2021: How can India improve digital accessibility?

Day 1 saw a panelist comment on the status of digital accessibility in India, showing that the government had its work cut out.

"We have no dearth of examples of work we are doing at full steam but we now parallelly have to see how this is getting translated into tangible results on the ground," Dr Nirmita Narasimhan, Senior Fellow and Program Director Asia-Pacific, G3ict, said during the inaugural event of India's first Internet Governance Forum. Narasimhan was speaking about digital accessibility at the session in which she was joined by India's IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, Minister of State for IT Rajeev Chandrashekhar, IT Secretary Ajay Prakash Sawhney, and Broadcast India Forum President TV Ramachandran. During the session, Narasimhan referred to the Digital Accessibility Rights Evaluation Index (DARE Index) conducted by G3ict (Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies), on which India ranked 45th among 137 countries, particularly marking shortfalls in implementation and outcomes from policies. Taking pointers from it, Narasimhan suggested the path India could take going forward. Where does India need to work to improve digital accessibility? Lack of policies: There are some areas where we still do not have policies on accessibility, like mobile telephony while in other areas there is a lack of implementation, Narasimhan said. Accessibility By Design: "Things have to be born accessible - technologies, buildings everything has to be born accessible. We very often go into retro-fitting mode and that is not sustainable," Narasimhan said. Building tech infrastructure: "Our focus should be on solving a specific contextual requirement and to make these technologies available, affordable, scalable, usable, and compatible with other products," Narasimhan said, asking the…

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