Indian Government Sites Not Yet Fully Disabled-friendly – Now Who Will Take This Up?

The Indian Government passed the Disability Act in 1995, which among other things mandates that public information should also be provided in a disabled-friendly format to those Indian citizens who might have a need for it. With increasing proliferation of the Internet, electronic accessibility of information has become extremely crucial. In February this year, the government finally ensured that 50 of its websites shall be made disabled-friendly in order to make accessibility easy.

Disabled_access blurry

The guidelines to ensure that a website is disabled-friendly is not a long list. Just a few important factors need to be ensured, like:

  • Including the ‘ALT’ attribute for all images so that visitors who have problem viewing the image can easily listen to the ALT text using speech synthesizers
  • Ability to know where the link is pointed at, without having to read the surrounding text
  • Use of a consistent style to identify hyperlinks which is not solely based on color
  • Use of frames to be avoided
  • Provide alternatives for multimedia content
  • All other common-sensical styling that would enable easier access of information

And news is in, that the Government is yet to conform to these guidelines as well as the other that have been mandated by the World Wide Web Consortium. The question is not about why it has not happened since February, which is pretty unfair because it has been only six months since then (pun intended), but about the need for a defining authority like the IT Ministry to ratify the design of Government websites when they are launched.

access to disabled

India has been with the W3C since its inception in 1994 and the Web Accessibility Initiative for the disabled was launched in 1997, much before the Government launched several of its websites. I wouldn’t dismiss the existence of an authority that is supposed to ratify website designs, but as it stands, it only points to a slow and lackadaisical way in which the issues have been handled.

But things have seemingly started to move in the right direction. The Government has recently issued a draft national policy for electronic accessibility. That’s something which is better late than never!

4 Responses to “Indian Government Sites Not Yet Fully Disabled-friendly – Now Who Will Take This Up?”

  1. September 12, 2009 at 10:12 am #

    They’re not even usable to people who are luckier than people with disabilities. All of them have been wired in 1.0 era, have blinks, marquee, tags and that age old “new.gif”.

  2. September 12, 2009 at 12:33 pm #

    LOL..Marquee tags and government sites are inseparable..

  3. September 15, 2009 at 12:30 pm #

    I am afraid, even after numerous laws are passed the situation remains unchanged, we had an opportunity to bid for a project. Where our proposal included the accessibility and compliance as a deliverable but we ended up explaining what it means? and what do we need to do to achieve it?

    Ultimately, we understood that it was not considered as a criteria during the technical evaluation.

    Something more drastic (ex: PIL or a legal suit) needs to happen before the government starts making this one of the primary technical criteria and works towards educating the scrutiny board.


  4. January 20, 2010 at 11:54 am #

    The situation here in so bad that the victims do not know that what is their right and the government do not know will happen if I don’t provide for the disabled rights. Till the darkness is there let the andher-nagari-chaupat-raja prevail. But one day the light will come.

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