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Microsoft hosts its first-ever Accessibility Summit in India

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Microsoft India today hosted its first-ever Accessibility Summit in India to enhance technology access for people with disabilities.

The summit aimed at demonstrating the business value of accessible technology for organizations, the need for a collaborative effort as well as assessing policy’s role in creating an accessible India. The summit brought together leaders from the government, non-profit organizations, filmmakers, entrepreneurs and budding technologists to present their views and best practices around accessibility and technology’s potential in aiding inclusion.

Navreet Kang, Secretary, Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India said, “We believe that inclusion of persons with disabilities is imperative for India’s growth. It is therefore, critical that we empower them with equal access and opportunity. We look forward to public-private partnerships that can enable better social inclusion and help people with disabilities achieve more.”

Speaking at the summit, Jayesh Ranjan, IT Secretary, Department of IT, Electronics & Communication, Government of Telangana said, “Our vision is to ensure that persons with diverse abilities have equal access to the physical environment, transportation, information and communication technologies, and to other facilities and services. The Microsoft Accessibility Summit provides an ideal platform to bring together policymakers and influencers to understand the policy environment and chart a direction for making life, experiences and opportunities accessible to all.”

There was a special focus on the need for regulatory policies for innovation on accessible technologies and inclusive hiring practices. These interactions also provided insights into regulations, specifications and standards in terms of accessibility along with an understanding of optimization of existing hardware and software configuration to drive accessibility.

The summit featured unique technology-based projects that empower people with disabilities. These included innovations from non-profit organizations, assistive technologies developed by Microsoft partners as well as Microsoft solutions. A young team of three students from IIT Kharagpur showcased White Cane, a personal assistant device for the visually impaired, which they have developed as part of Microsoft Imagine Cup.

According to Dr. Jitender Aggarwal, Founder & CEO, Sarthak Educational Trust, “Accessibility is one of the dire necessities for creating an inclusive environment. The difference between the able bodied and disabled is not so much because of physical challenges, as due to the fact that everything around us is designed from the perspective of able bodied people only. In such a scenario, accessible and adaptive technologies act as a support system to promote inclusion and empowerment of persons with disabilities.”

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