* Please note, I am not the author of this content and am reproducing it for the purpose of reaching more readers and creating awareness amongst the society on this challenge that many persons with a print disability face with the digital world related to accessibility.
To sum things up; it's not that the technology is difficult to implement or expensive but the lack of awareness on accessibility that creates such digital barriers. Digital inclusion was to be a must after the Digital India and accessible India movement was proposed by our Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, so unfortunate in reality it is a still want have or wishful thinking!
Vineet Saraiwala works as Inclusion Lead with the Future Group and is also the Founder of Atypical Advantage, India's first talent platform for people with disabilities. His vision impairment has never been an excuse in life. Economic independence is not only about earning a decent sum but also having the liberty to access the money on your own. Vineet often struggles with payment gateways during online transactions as certain features are inaccessible to his screen reading device. Frustrated and limited by such experiences, he is forced to take sighted help.
Madhu Singhal, an award-winning Founder and Managing Trustee of Mitra Jyothi, has been actively involved in empowering women with disabilities for nearly three decades. But she too feels helpless while accessing digital payment platforms. She says, “Every time the Paytm app is updated, it becomes inaccessible.” Due to periodic inconvenience, she has stopped trying altogether. A visionary woman is dependent on someone with eyes.
There are several blind and visually impaired people who encounter problems using the new touchscreen POS (Point of Sale) machines which are slowly replacing the older versions with a keypad. Without a tactile input, it’s nearly impossible for a blind person to key in their security code independently. In such a scenario, at a shopping mall or a petrol pump, they are expected to divulge their PIN (Personal Identification Number) to a stranger, compromising their financial safety and dignity.
None of us feel comfortable sharing our banking password, ATM PIN, or OTP (One-time Password) because we know it’s unsafe. But blind people end up giving out confidential information to helpers, drivers, total strangers or anyone who may be accompanying them. How is that fair or secure?
Today, India is focused on building a digitally empowered society, extending services to the remotest parts of the country. Yet this idea of ‘development for all’ is contradictory, as it excludes a large customer base from the 5.4 million blind population. Perhaps it’s time for stricter penalties for non-compliance to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines which are put in place to ensure inclusion of persons with disabilities.
Comments: Switch to digital wallets like Google Pay; totally accessible on android and IOS smart phones. PayTM has been an accessibility pain since God knows when!