Foundation Projects

Inclusive and efficient access to Internet services and information for persons with disabilities in Bangladesh

Humanity & Inclusion

Around 20% of the population of Bangladesh lives under the poverty line. As Internet adoption rapidly climbs, new opportunities in employment and education are presented via the Internet.

However, people with visual disabilities face added challenges in Internet accessibility. This project from Humanity & Inclusion in collaboration with Young Power in Social Action (YPSA), funded with a small grant, applied an innovative and holistic approach by addressing the roots of the problem with a cross-sectoral approach, that will benefit these websites and the public more broadly.

It created web accessibility guidelines for web developers in Bangladesh, tools for performing accessibility audits, a training manual for educating persons with disabilities and built the skills of 100 persons with disabilities on the use of screen reading software to access web platforms, applications and services.

The Guidelines, which were created in partnership with Access to Information (A2I) programme form the Prime Minister’s Office, were endorsed by the Government of Bangladesh after engaging with policy makers to report on audit conducted on government websites using the toolkit and discuss the importance of web accessibility for the persons with disabilities.

Persons with disabilities not only were the main direct beneficiaries, but were also involved with every aspect of this project, from planning to execution. Additionally, it ensured equal participation of women in the planning to execution process, especially the capacity building training on the accessibility guidelines and standards.

Participants in the validation workshop help test the web accessibility toolkit.
Participants in the validation workshop help test the web accessibility toolkit.

Lessons learned and impact

Lack of accessibility tools is one of the main components that prevents ending digital exclusion, this project highlights how this is possible in a very innovative way, by developing guidelines for web developers to implement, and by engaging with government by auditing their websites and engaging them in the solution. Yet, it also shows the importance of resources and time in the implementation of policy advocacy related projects, which usually takes more time.