Techhare India 2008 - India's First Technology Event to Promote Accessible Technology for People with Disabilities Opens to Public Today

Techhare India 2008 - India's First Technology Event to Promote Accessible Technology for People with Disabilities Opens to Public Today

Assistive Products and Technologies that Offer Opportunities to Millions

Techshare India 2008, India’s first technology conference and exhibition was today inaugurated by Dr. (Smt.) Veena Chhotray, Secretary, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. The 2 day event show cases accessible products and technologies for people with disabilities. Brought to India by the Royal National Institute of the Blind (UK) and BarrierBreak Technologies, Techshare is one of Europe’s biggest technology events to promote accessible technology for people with disabilities.

At the inauguration, the chief guest Dr. (Smt.) Veena Chhotray, Secretary, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, shared her perspective on the pertinence of an event like Techshare India 2008. She said, “I appreciate the attempt being made by the organisers of the conference, and we are certainly on the right path.” “Most of these issues have come up in the last few decades as technology has evolved. While the Government is aware of these concerns and has taken steps to address them – the gaps do exist. In order to promote employment of People with Disabilities in the corporate sector, the Government of India has earmarked a fund of Rs.1800 crores,” she added.

Ms. Shilpi Kedia, Founder and MD, BarrierBreak Technologies India, in her welcome address, said, ‘The need for an event like this was long over due in India. Techshare India brings together the entire ecosystem - the government, the corporates, the NGOs, People with Disabilities, the product companies and the education providers for the first time under one roof. The conference is a platform to share insights and learning’s and in the process serve a bigger purpose – which is to educate people about accessibility, promote accessibility and highlight the laws and standards that are there and encourage their implementation.’

Mr. Shadi Abou–Zahra from the World Wide Web Consortium, in his keynote address highlighted the need for assistive technologies to be built into the design of the web interface. He said, “The web is now the key for every day life and there are many tools that are available to the designers to make internet accessible to people with disabilities.” He also emphasized on the commercial opportunity available in catering to the growing market represented by people with disabilities in terms of products and technologies; and encouraged business houses to play a larger role in this field.

Mr. Javed Abidi, Executive Director, National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP) said, “India is a priveledged country to have the best of the technology, top corporate houses as well as the best brains that we export around the world. In such a scenario, it is very unfortunate to see that the people with disabilities are loosing out.” “The situation is such that the corporate sector is not even aware that we have fantastic assistive technologies available and how they can be incorporated to give better opportunities to people with disabilities. That according to me is discrimination,” he added.

Some of the other key presenters on the first day were Brian Hardy from Vision Australia; Dr. Sudha Kaul, ISAAC; Ms. Shanti Raghvan, Enable India and David Baquis, Sec 508, US Accessibility Board. The second day will see presentations by Lisa D. Friendly,,; Edward Hitchcock, Occupational Therapist, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago; Mandy Thompson, RNIB among others.