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Access 7 December 2017

Making Education Accessible for All: Vashkar Bhattacharjee’s Story

We recently shared the first part of Vashkar Bhattacharjee’s story. Vashkar is the National Consultant, Accessibility, A2i, Prime Minister’s Office of Bangladesh, the Second Vice-President, GAATES (Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies & Environments), and the Program Manager, Young Power in Social Action (YPSA).

Setting up an accessible digital talking book system (DAISY) in Bangladesh

After training in Japan, I was armed with knowledge in leadership and technology and wanted to create digital access for people with disabilities in Bangladesh. I wanted to prove that people with disabilities like me can work in our job market, but nobody wanted to believe me. With Young People in Social Action (YPSA), a social development organization in my home district of Chittagong, I worked as a volunteer on creating computerized braille production, which allows for printing to be in done in Braille, thus creating the tools for education for people with visual impairment. Very soon, we obtained funding to establish a digital lab, called ICT and Resource Center on Disability (IRCD), to develop assistive technologies and content for persons with disabilities.

In 2005, I was introduced to the Digital Accessible Information System (DAISY) Consortium, where I received inspiration from international experts to work harder and smarter, and make better use of available technologies. I received support to become an International Trainer on the use of ICT-based assistive technologies for persons with disabilities.

Once I returned from the training program, I introduced DAISY’s international standard for accessible publishing in Bangladesh. Since then, with support from a2i program’s Service Innovation Fund, YPSA has converted all the text books for class 1 to class 10 into multimedia digital talking books through engaging persons with disabilities themselves. From this format, the books can be converted further into accessible eBooks and digital braille books and these can be made available to students with a print disability or a learning disability. The project received technical support from the DAISY Consortium, Accessible Books Consortium and WIPO. For its contribution to making education accessible for all, including those with a learning disability, this innovative initiative has received 4 international accolades including the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) Prize 2017 from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

It was on my journey in 2014 to receive the ISIF Award for Multimedia Talking Book that I was introduced to APNIC. At the APNIC 42 conference, I received recognition from the Internet community. They admired the resilience and talent shown by a person with a disability in producing innovative applications.

Read Part Three of Vashkar’s story.

Vashkar Bhattacharjee will be attending the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) later this month as an IGF Ambassador, where this year’s theme is Shape Your Digital Future. He welcomes other attendees to reach out to him to learn more about his work.

In the meantime, you can read the W3C Introduction to Web Accessibilityand learn about the DAISY Consortium and the Dynamic Coalition on Access and Disability, two organizations working to ensure equal access to information and knowledge.

The Internet Society strives towards a future where “The Internet is for Everyone”. Visit the Accessibility Toolkit page to learn how every person in the Internet community can contribute to a more accessible Internet.

Learn how you, too, can help shape tomorrow!

Photo: Vashkar Bhattacharjee holding the Accessible Books Consortium International Excellence Award with Ms. Anne Leer, then WIPO Deputy Director General. Photo credit: London Book Fair.

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Making Education Accessible for All: Vashkar Bhattacharjee’s Story
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Making Education Accessible for All: Vashkar Bhattacharjee’s Story

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