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Vol. IV No.11

November 2006

The first monthly magazine on ICT4D

Making ICT an empowering tool FITA, replicating a model for disabled persons

ICT and disability: the case of ASK IT Information for development


Integrated approach for effective communication

ISSN 0972 - 804X

ICTs for the disabled

The Hindu Media Resource Centre (THMRC)

knowledge for change

We build

We explore

Documentation We search

We capture We cooperate We advocate


We converse We inform

We collaborate

We share


We interact We deliver

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We bring change for progress


Vol. IV No. 11

November 2006

Mail box


19 News

et online.n info@i4d




Nobel Peace Prize, 2006


Citizen journalism


ICTs for differentially abled

Kudos to Prof. Yunus

Book burning in the cyberspace Edward Crompton

Conquering disability the ICT way Ajitha Saravanan

replicating a model for 12 FITA, disabled persons Making ICT an empowering tool Stanley M. Debono, Michael Micallef

15 17

Inspiring story

Nobel Peace Prize, 2006 Kudos to Prof. Yunus




e-Enabling tools


Bytes for All


Books received

45 46

What’s on

Cynthia D. Waddell

Software for people with disability

In fact ICT services for disabled persons at a click



e-Aids for listening

World Congress on Communication for Development (WCCD), Rome

Technology for the deaf to go mainstream Peter S Abrahams

Global communications meet searches for answers

Doing IT... Sans eyes


ICT and disability: the case of ASK-IT Karel Van Isacker, Zoe Apostolopoulou

35 ICTD project newsletter

Hindu Media Resource 32 The Centre (THMRC) Integrated approach for effective communication K. Bhanumathi

News Search ICT4D news by date in the sectors of governance, health, education, agriculture and so on. E-mail Subscribe to daily, weekly, monthly newsletters online or send request to Research e-Learning projects from India.


Conference Preview 6-8 February, 2007 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Learn more about FLOSS Print edition The past issues of the magazine are available online

i4d is an excellet tool for the development of the mankind, however I like to add my opinion. Break through news/achievements and experts opinions on that issue and a interaction platform should be provided so that anyone qualified (obviously he should be in the same plane of thought a checking system through some questionnaire or by some other methods) can interact for a virtual brain storming for the achievement of new school of thoughts/ a better conclusion within a specified time frame for further achievement for the mankind as far as possible in real sense. I hope i4d will be the last word for the mankind in near future. Gautam K Das Technologist ( B Tech in Mech Engg - IIT Kharagpur,) Kolkata, India

Greetings from Tallinn, Estonia! Our eGovernance Academy is gathering and disseminating best e-Governance practices internationally and your magazine is one of our important sources for ideas and consultancy background information. Especially, that in this (European) part of the world there are not many reliable sources of information about the development in Asian countries available for NGOs. Therefore, we are endlessly thankful for providing us with systematic overview of main achievements, problems and most important topics in the agenda for development. Zhanna Pilving Executive Assistant, e-Governance Academy Estonia ave. 5a, Tallinn 10143, Estonia

Cover images courtesy: (1) (2) David Eldridge ( (3) The Association of People with Disabilities

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i4d Editorial Calendar 2006 Month



ICT and evolution process


ICT and rural development


ICT Policy




ICT and Microfinance


Cultural diversity, localisation and ICTs


Open content


Media and ICTs


ICTs and SME


Gender and ICTs


ICTs for the disabled



i4d | November 2006

 Editorial Information for development

Brainstorming on a word-’Disable’

ADVISORY BOARD M P Narayanan, Chairman, i4d Chin Saik Yoon Southbound Publications, Malaysia Karl Harmsen United Nations University Kenneth Keniston Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA Mohammed Yunus Grameen Bank, Bangladesh Nagy Hanna e-Leadership Academy, University of Maryland, USA Richard Fuchs IDRC, Canada Rinalia Abdul Rahim Global Knowledge Partnership, Malaysia Walter Fust Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Switzerland Wijayananda Jayaweera UNESCO, France EDITORIAL BOARD Akhtar Badshah, Frederick Noronha

3rd December is coming - another ‘World Disability Day’. But do we exactly know who are the ‘disabled’? Are they ‘disabled’ or ‘differently able’? Of course, we must say, they are ‘differently able’. The meaning of term ‘disability’ seems to be very relative. None of us can claim that ‘I am able to do everything’. Many of us can see without a ‘vision’. Can such people claim that we are NOT ‘disabled’? A person with organic hazards may be able to manage own works with equal efficiency like a person without organic hazards. Sometimes hazards make the people more efficient. The life story of Helen Keller is an inspiration to all of us. She rightly stated, “When one door closes, another opens”. In this issue of i4d, readers will go through such examples, reflected by some interesting, lively stories.

EDITORIAL TEAM Editor Ravi Gupta Editorial Consultant Jayalakshmi Chittoor Sr Assistant Editor Saswati Paik Assistant Editor Dipanjan Banerjee

Knowledge has the power to bring light and vision to our life. The darkness of any type can be filled with the light of intelligence in a day-lit world, which is experiencing numerous problems associated with social blindness.

Research Associates Ajitha Saravanan, Dipsikha Sahoo Designer Bishwajeet Kumar Singh Web Programmer Zia Salahuddin Group Directors Maneesh Prasad, Sanjay Kumar i4d G-4 Sector 39, NOIDA, UP, 201 301, India Phone +91 120 250 2180-87 Fax +91 120 250 0060 Email Web

All of us must keep in mind the valuable words of: “Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content”. Let’s see how we can inspire ourselves towards learning to derive information for development despite all sorts of disabilities.

Printed at Yashi Media Works Pvt. Ltd. New Delhi, India i4d is a monthly publication. It is intended for those interested and involved in the use of Information and CommnicationTechnologies for development of underserved communities. It is hoped that it will serve to foster a growing network by keeping the community up to date on many activities in this wide and exciting field.

Ravi Gupta

i4d does not necessarily subscribe to the views expressed in this publication. All views expressed in this magazine are those of the contributors. i4d is not responsible or accountable for any loss incurred directly or indirectly as a result of the information provided.

Centre for Science, Development and Media Studies, 2006 Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License

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November 2006 |



Kudos to Prof. Yunus The Nobel citation reads: ‘lasting peace cannot be achieved unless large population groups find ways to break out of poverty. Micro credit is one such means’. Indeed Prof.Muhammad Yunus the Grameen Bank, has made the concept translate literally and figuratively among the masses. The beneficiaries and citizens of Bangladesh stand witness to this. Today world is giving standing ovation to its mastermind, a vision that evolved three decades back. Inceptor of microcredit and founder of Grameen Bank Professor Muhammad Yunus and along with the organisation have won Nobel Peace Prize 2006 for his contribution in poverty alleviation. After successful implementation of microcredit programme at home, Grameen Bank model is now being followed by different countries across the world including some of the developed nations. Prof. Yunus is the first Bangladeshi who has won this prestigious award. His contribution in promoting Information and Communication Technologies in building an informed and empowered society is also applauded globally.

Background Born to Mr.Hazi Dula Mia Shoudagar and Mrs. Sufia Khatun in 1940, Yunus spent considerable part of his life in Chittagong, Bangladesh. Besides excelling in academic pursuits and voluantary services, Yunus was active in extracurriculars during his boyhood days. Married to Afroji Yunus, a Professor of Physics at Jahangirnagar University, Yunus is a proud father of two daughters: Dina Yunus and Monica Yunus. It was in in 1974 literally Yunus got involved in fighting poverty for the first time in Bangladesh, especially during the famine period. He understood that a considerate lending hand would suffice enough to bring unbelievable difference to a poor man’s


life. His first loan consisted of US$27 from his own pocket, which he lent to women in the village of Jobra in Chittagong who were in the business of making bamboo furniture. The origin of Grameen Bank can be traced back to 1976 when Professor Yunus, the-then head of the Rural Economics Programme at the University of Chittagong, launched an action research project to examine the possibility of designing a credit delivery system to provide banking services targeted at the rural poor. The Grameen Bank Project (Grameen means ‘rural’ or ‘village’ in Bangla language) came into operation with the core objectives - to eliminate poverty and create opportunities for poor and disadvantaged groups especially the women from poor households. Microcredit has proved to be a powerful tool for emancipation of societies and communities where women in particular have to put great efforts to overcome the suppressive barriers of socio-economic conditions. Without making them an earning member, empowering them with certain monetary means, no decisive capacity, economic growth or participative lead would emerge in the society. Grameen bank’s relentless work carried in this direction in creating opportunities for large numbers of people to get out of

Micro-credit is one such means where development from bottom-to-top approach serves to advance democracy and human rights

vicious circle of poverty created the conditions for sustainable peace; indeed a milestone in recogonising human values, rights and democracy. Grameen Grameen Bank Bank’s success can thus be evaluated in its business model coupled with social responsibility and its viability among the womenfolk.

Nobel recognition The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2006, divided into two equal parts, to ‘Muhammad Yunus’ and ‘Grameen Bank’ for their efforts to create economic and social development from below. Microcredit is one such means. Development from bottom-to-top approach also serves to advance democracy and human rights. Grameen Bank has reversed conventional banking practice by removing the need for collateral and created a banking system based on mutual trust, accountability, participation and creativity. Loans to poor people without any financial security had appeared to be an impossible idea. From modest beginnings, Yunus had developed microcredit into an ever more important instrument in the struggle against poverty. Eventually, the bank and its concept have emerged into a discipline and a perennial source of ideas and model for the many institutions working in the field of betterment of livelihood patterns around the world.  i4d Magazine and CSDMS takes privilege to join with the cheering masses, to give a note of congratulations to Prof. Muhammad Yunus and expresses its pride to have him among the esteemed group of Members of the Advisory Board. May his vision and passion for common people be the motivating spirit to work hard to bring about visible changes to life around us. i4d | November 2006


Book burning in the cyber space If freedom on online needs to be maintained, it is better to have to be very cautious of dangerous content and tolerant of that which is offensive.

Edward Crompton Mahiti Infotech, Bangalore, India

November 2006 |

Internet and free flow of information Open publishing on the Internet is allowing us to consume and contribute to the media in equal measure. A place of rich, chaotic and eclectic views, discussions and disputes is making so called ‘citizen journalism’ a valuable addition to traditional media types. Citizen journalism, and in particular blogging, is for many writers an open and unrestricted window of engagement with the wider world. More importantly, blogs are often the only channel for uncensored news and free thought in societies where the printed press is controlled and restricted. But this borderless, casteless and raceless freedom of expression is not favourable to all. Political regimes the world over are constantly tightening control and restrictions on what we read and write online. Reporters San Frontieres (http:// recently published a report on the state of Internet censorship. They identified several ‘Internet black holes’ in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Asia. These are places where bands of Internet police constantly filter and block content. Ostensible reasons for control are to fight terrorism, to protect vulnerable groups within society, to protect cultural and religious heritage, or to maintain social stability. Almost always, government restrictions on Internet content are a political power tool and a curtailment of the freedom of its users.

Governments and restrictive measures Oppressive regimes are the most vulnerable to net-based publishing and free thinking. As one of the world’s most developed singleparty states, China’s powers of censorship and control on the Internet are second to

none. Dubbed ‘The Great Firewall’, China’s controls allow threatening foreign content to be blocked whilst home-grown dissidents can be tracked down and silenced. However, China’s special edited version of the Internet does not operate independently of familiar multinational Internet companies. Microsoft, Google and Yahoo all have strong business interests within the country and they ensure their operations comply with Chinese law. All these companies have sparked a great deal of controversy and media debate with their actions on the inside of the Great Fire Wall. Yahoo has been accused of supplying information to the authorities that directly led to the arrest and imprisonment of Chinese Internet users on multiple occasions. Google has been accused of tight self-censorship of its search engine in order to reach the Chinese market. Ultimately the justification for this seems to be built on the conviction that it is better to have restricted access to content than no access at all. Let there not be the illusion that Internet censorship is the domain of closed nondemocratic countries. As it is seen recently in India when major blog sites were shut down for days, democracies too can be all too ready to employ crude, knee-jerk, disproportionate techniques to block content. This time it was on the pretext of fighting terrorism. Luckily Indian bloggers were free, passionate and angry enough to condemn the act and make sure it was internationally denounced. Further, afield in the UK the home office has set a target of 2007 for implementing sophisticated blocking devices on all ISPs. Currently it is expected that the system will be largely used to filter sites containing child pornography, but blocking other content is simply a matter of adding addresses to a list. It takes little foresight to predict that the next sites


to be blocked will be those ‘inciting religious hatred’ or ‘glorifying terrorism’.

Reaction to censorship With the growth of censorship, as bleakly outlined by the RSF report, a counter movement has developed. ‘Hacktivism’ is a movement of computer hackers with a political and social conscience. Hackivism started in the underground world of hardcore computer geeks. Hacktivists gave themselves strange names such as The ‘Cult Of The Dead Cow’ and ‘Hacktivismo’. In its earlier days the importance of Hacktivism as a civil society movement was perhaps overlooked, but this has changed. The University of Toronto hosts the CitizenLab(Version 4.0 – http:// – a Hacklab that describes its work as ‘advanced research and development at the intersection of digital media and world civic politics.’ CitizenLab actively seeks to subvert censorship in closed societies such as China. The lab has produced a piece of software called Psiphon which allows users to share unrestricted Internet access via a https protocol like that widely used by online banking and shopping systems. Psiphon allows users in countries with open Internet access to provide an access channel for trusted acquaintances in countries without normal access. Although individual Psiphon providers can be blocked on discovery, the system is distributed to such an extent that it should be almost impossible to completely stamp out all Psiphon access points. The project is funded by the Open Society Institute. The battle for human rights and open society is now increasingly fought as fiercely online as it offline. Net based rights are taken extremely seriously by Amnesty International - an organisation that was originally founded after two Portuguese students were arrested for raising their glasses to freedom, is now defending Iranian bloggers making purely electronic ‘toasts’ to freedom. Kate Allen of Amnesty International UK announced the launch of a campaign called Irrepressible.Info( in May 2006. The campaign employs a purely symbolic but rather elegant method of subverting censorship by taking extracts of banned websites and allowing people to distribute them on their weblog or by eMail.

Internet censorship and level of awareness But how much difference does Internet censorship make to the average net user in China, Iran or Uzbekistan, and do these users care that the content they are viewing is being censored? It is doubtful that unrestricted access to the CNN news website is considered particularly relevant by the average Mandarin speaker living in China. Do people really care if the keyword they typed into Google returns 1.2 million hits instead of 15 million? Most bloggers are not even politically motivated. They blog about their daily lives, their pets and their social plans. Many techniques employed by government censorship of the Internet are extremely weak and easy for even a non-technical person to work around. During the Indian blog censorship fiasco, instructions for subversion not only became available immediately,


but tools required were also already in place. In fact, accessing the censored blogs became only marginally less straightforward than it always had been. It is likely at least in the case of censorship in China and other closed regimes, that the perception of censorship that is more important than its technical effectiveness. As Nart Villeneuve of CitizenLab has commented on his blog (http:// Source : ice.citizen what is more important is the way censorship defines topics of acceptable discussion to net users. Most users, either through disinterest, blind compliance or acceptance of the regime, will not attempt to circumvent censorship. This strengthens the tendency for self censorship and avoidance of content that may be deemed controversial. The result is a more deeply ingrained compliance with regulation than would be achievable through forced censorship alone.

Ethics of censorship The emergence of technologies such as Psiphon raises further questions on the ethics of censorship circumvention. The lack of political or cultural borders on the Internet means that it is now possible to impose one’s definitions of acceptable and unacceptable content outside one’s own country and culture. Psiphon is built on the assumption that all censorship in all societies is wrong. In doing so it removes or seriously degrades any protective measures against content that may be genuinely damaging to society. Is it ethically correct to forcibly remove these protections in the name of free speech? Undeniably the freedom to publish on the Internet is not only dangerous to governments of closed political regimes. Its implications are dangerous and uncomfortable for its staunchest supporters, for children, for celebrities and for ordinary people. If freedom on online needs to be maintained, it is better to have to be very cautious of dangerous content and tolerant of that which is offensive. To quote George Orwell: “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” The reason one has to care is, how many Google hits one is getting, whether one has access or not to foreign news sites, whether readers of one’s blogs have to circumvent a block, just because if they don’t, they will blindly stumble into a future where their best tool for communicating openly with each other, thinking freely and giving voice to the disadvantaged and neglected is severely diminished. One simply cannot afford to entrust their Internet freedoms to government and big business. 

i4d | November 2006


Conquering disability the ICT way Disability is not a tragedy but an inconvenience. About 600 million persons or onetenth of the world population are estimated to be disabled in one form or another e.g., visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive, and neurological. The proportion of the disability varies from country to country. It is low in developed countries and high in the developing countries. Approximately 80 percent of the disabled population lives in developing countries. Within certain developing countries nearly 20 percent of the general population are in some way or other disabled.

International agencies on disabled The international agencies have awakened to the alarming situation with supportive and assuring measures. In 1948, United Nations General Assembly proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in which article 25 says that each person has ‘the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control’. UN’s commitment to assist the disabled had evolved since it began addressing the needs of individuals injured in the world war II. In 1950, a conference was organised to discuss about the coordination among the specialised agencies to rehabilitate the disabled, in which UN Secretariat, the ILO, WHO, UNESCO, the International Refugee Organisation (IRO), and UNICEF partici-pated and arrived at an agreement to establish international standards for the education, treatment, training and placement for disabled persons, with particular emphasis on the needs of the blind in under-developed areas. These organisations have focused on delivery of services and have been managed by nondisabled persons, with need based care and protection for persons with disabilities.


Initially (1945-55), the UN promoted a suitable welfare measures for the disabled persons. Later (1955-70), the focus of the disability issues shifted to that of social welfare. During the 70s, the concept of human rights for disabled persons was introduced which was widely accepted at the global level. The Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons, adopted by the General Assembly on December 9, 1975, envisaged protection of the rights for the disabled. On December 16, 1976, the General Assembly declared the year 1981 as the International Year of Disabled Persons (IYDP), specifying that it would be devoted to integrate disabled persons fully into the society. In 1982, the World Programme of Action, concerning disabled persons, restructured disability policy into three distinct areas: prevention, rehabilitation, and equalisation of opportunities. In the same year, the UN Decade of Disabled Persons (1983-1992) was announced to raise new financial resources, improving education and employment opportunities for the disabled, and increase their active participation in their respective communities and country. On December 16, 1992, the General Assembly appealed to

ICT development has created wide-gap with in different nations and segment of the social groups, and the serious casualties are the disabled persons.

governments to observe 3rd December of each year as International Day of Disabled Persons. In the same year, Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons (1993-2002), proclaimed to effectively implement the World Programme of Action in the Asian and Pacific region. On December 20, 1993 the General Assembly adopted the Standard Rules on the Equalisation of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities. It also raised serious concern to the urgent need to integrate disabled people with rapid developments in the electronic and ICTs. Hence, UN has announced to celebrate International Disabled Day of 2006 considering of e-Inclusion, e Accessibility as its theme.

Legal frames Various countries enacted disability acts but only towards the last decade of the twentieth century. Disability rights are being incorporated in international, national, and states legislations. In India, were about 22 million persons are disabled, some acts were enacted to protect the disabled people viz., The Mental Health Act, 1987, The Rehabilitation Council Act of India (RCI, 1992), The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Full Participation and Protection of Rights) Act, 1995 and The National Trust (for welfare of persons with autism, cerebral palsy, mental retardation and multiple disabilities) Act, 1999. Again, a comprehensive disabled act ‘the Persons With Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 emerged in the last decade of the twentieth century, as a result of the Government of India’s commitment at ESCAP Conference in 1992, and with the recommendation of the previous committees and strong NGO movements in the country, draft act was introduced in 1993, and it was notified on January 5, 1996. The act actually came into i4d | November 2006

effect from 7th February 1996 onwards. This act is a combination of service-oriented and rights-based legislation, based on the following approaches: prohibition of discrimination on the ground of disability in different spheres of life; positive discrimination in favour of people with disabilities; grant of relaxation in their favour to overcome respective disabilities; and their inclusion in mainstream programmes. Likewise, several other countries enacted the disabled act during the last decade of the 20th century. However, many of these laws are yet to be implemented effectively. The developed nations have amended the disability act to reduce or remove accessibility barriers present in existing ICT and are working further to avoid introducing new ICTs with unjustified accessibility barriers. However, in the developing countries, the disability acts are of recent origin and the development in ICTs throws a great deal of challenge in the existing legal protection measures.

Digital divide matters In last three decades, ICTs have scaled to an unimaginable heights in growth around the world. However, these technologies are widely put into practise in developed countries in comparison to the developing countries. For instance, the data on Internet users (2004) shows that in African countries, only 3.1 per cent of the population are able to make use of the surfing facilities whereas in US, 63 percent has the accessibility. In developed countries, about 53 per cent of the population have random access to the Internet facilities, whereas, it is only 7 per cent in the developing nations. The same trend of difference is replicated in Internet/ICT use by disabled population worldwide.

ICTs: opportunities vs challenges Large scale diffusion of ICTs have positively opened up many opportunities for people with disabilities, especially in networking, building solidarity, employment and independent living. Indeed, the assistive computer and other augmentative communicational technologies have made accessibility easy to ICTs for people with disabilities. However, in the developing countries, the disabled people are facing multiple barriers to access the ICTs and the skill required to use these technologies. Further, keeping pace with newer growths in ICTs is also posing serious challenges for the disabled people.

Assistive or adaptive technologies ICTs have created a border -free and barrier less space to all and these technologies can be very well extended to the disabled people. Though diffrent agencies are developing the compatible Information and Communication Technologies for the disabled people, large proportion of the disabled people are not able to access these technologies due to socioeconomic and cultural factors, specific to the region. In 2003, the World Bank Information Solutions Group (ISG) conducted a survey to identify the ‘current level of accessibility for people with physical or sensory impairment in several areas, including website and Internet presence, operating and software systems, telecommunications systems, video and multimedia products, office equipment and employee accommodation practices’. The study found that the ‘overall work environment, including web applications, software, telecommunications equipment, and office equipment, is not fully accessible to individuals with disabilities, creating November 2006 |

unnecessary obstacles for mental those individuals in meeting their responsibilities and/or demonstrating their seeing individual capabilities and movement potential for advancement’. In recent years, the hearing international agencies and speech different countries have Type of disabled persons in India, 2001 initiated several measures to provide the compatible ICTs for different types of disabled people. Assistive or Adaptive Technology (AT) commonly refers to products, devices or equipment, whether acquired commercially, modified or customised, that are used to maintain, increase or improve the functional capacities of individuals with disabilities.

Disabled in India - How are they? In India, about 21,906,769 persons are disabled, which forms 2.13 percent of the total population (1,028,610,328), according to 2001 Census. Of the total disabled population, 12,605,635 (57.54%) are males and 9,301,134 (42.46%) are females. About 10,634,881 persons (48.55%) are disabled in seeing, 1,640,868 persons (7.49%) in speech, 1,261,722 persons (5.76%) in hearing, 6,105,477 persons (27.87%) in movement, and 2,263,821 persons (10.33%) in mental health. Sensitive to the situation, Government of India has introduced several ICT enabled measures for the disabled persons to equip themselves for better occupational and livelihood patterns in recent years.

Way ahead The phenomenal growth of ICT development has created digital divide not only between the developed and developing countries, rural and urban, and within the developing countries but also with different segment of the social groups, and the serious casualties are the disabled persons. Even the able people are found hard to catch up with the fast changing trends in ICTs, and it became increasingly difficult task for the disabled persons in general and more specifically in the rural areas of the developing nations. Hence, development in ICTs have to streamline to adopt certain characteristics features to implant an appropriate technology to accommodate the disabled people along with mainstream of the life. Unless or otherwise, whatever the development in the ICTs sector will not be sane or spiritual for the overall development of the society. It is more appropriate to quote UNESCO’s former Assistant Director General for Communication and Information, Abdul Waheed Khan (2004), ‘Ignorance and lack of awareness in designing technology that meets the needs of people with disabilities were highlighted as the main obstacles for progress towards ICT that is accessible to all. While cooperation between country governments as well as between organisations is important, he said, concrete action lines should be included in the WSIS outcome in order for initiatives for disabled people worldwide to be effective’ ( newsroom/highlights/16nov.html) Ajitha Saravanan,



Making ICT an empowering tool Whereas ICT usually improves the productivity of individuals, for disabled persons it represents more, it is an opportunity to communicate, gain access to education services and become gainfully employed.

Stanley M. Debono Executive Coordinator

Equal Opportunities Act (EOA) and ICTS There is general consensus that computer technology and electronic telecommunications have a tremendous potential to broaden the lives and increase the independence of disabled persons. However, increased reliance on ICT to distribute products and services raises concern as to whether these new services are designed to be fully accessible to all persons, including disabled persons. Without well coordinated efforts throughout society, there is a risk that these Information Communications Technology (ICT) developments will result in products and services which continue to broaden the information gap. In Malta, antidiscrimination legislation entitled the Equal Opportunities Act - Disabled Persons of 2000 (EOA) is instrumental in ensuring greater inclusiveness through the removal of access barriers. The EOA is comprehensive legislation built upon the American Anti-Discrimination Act, the UK Disability Discrimination Act and the Australian Disability Discrimination Act. Maltese anti-discrimination legislation identifies six areas which are education, employment, goods and services, access, insurance and accommodation. Presently, Information and Communications Technology (ICT) relates mostly to the former three.

Extension of ICT support

Michael Micallef Officer-in-Charge of ICT Audits Foundation for Information Technology Accessibility (FITA), Malta


This year the National Commission Disabled Persons (KNPD) which is the entity responsible for enforcing the EOA, ran an information campaign entitled ‘Equality, Good for you, Good for me’, highlighting the positive financial outcomes of increased accessib-ility. The main concept is that disabled persons will never become positive contributors towards society unless they are

provided with the education and accommodation necessary for their emancipation. The extent to which ICT can support disabled persons can be categorised into three main levels.  Some disabled individuals will easily use the same standard technology used by the non-disabled user. Though the positive impact of ICT may be great, the level of investment in ICT will be minimal. In this case, society’s expectations and the individual’s exposure to and skill in using ICT play a major part in maximising the benefits that can be gained.  Others with varying or more severe impairments will need to use assistive ICT solutions that initially tend not to form part of standard ICT equipment. If assistive ICT is provided early on, disabled persons will be able to better use it in accessing education and eventually become gainfully employed.  Yet another group will be made up of persons with severe impairments, or a combination of impairments which restrict their ability to work and participate in society at a high level. Nonetheless ICT can also help in this case, by providing a necessary means of communication and allow individuals to make life choices. Whatever options are available the individual should be equipped with the necessary skills and information to make an informed choice and ICT remains a very promising empowerment tool in this regard. i4d | November 2006

ICT enabled social model of disability

Statistical research on the ICT usage trends of Maltese disabled persons is also being carried out, in order to compare and contrast the expectations of disabled persons with what is available in the market. This knowledge can lead to better informed business decisions and enhance the public policy making process. One aspect that is observed is that the plans and projects should be left to evolve organically from the people these are intended for. This suggests that policy makers should aim to help and provide support mechanisms to truly enable the development of sustainable projects. Notwithstanding this, a flexible top down approach to inclusion will promote good practice and also help establish standards, whereby the waste of resources resulting from duplication, is minimised.

Malta shares the same population percentage proportion of disabled persons as the European Union, which is circa 15 percent. More detailed statistical data can be obtained from the annual reports of KNPD at The lack of natural resources meant that human resources have always played a prominent role in the Maltese economy. Whereas ICT usually improves the productivity of individuals, for disabled persons it represents an opportunity to communicate, gain access to education services and become gainfully employed. The Foundation for Information Technology Accessibility (FITA) was established by the Malta Information Technology and Training Services Limited (MITTS) and KNPD on 2 October, 2001. In line with the EOA, FITA applies the principles of the Achieving expertise and financial sufficiency Social Model of Disability throughout its activities and initiatives. This model of disability, seeks to eliminate access barriers induced In identifying the most effective steps necessary to reach the desired by society, through social change. It thus aims to enable individuals goals, it is important to consult with individuals or associations knowledgeable about the to contribute their full requirements of a particular potential as part of society, group especially disabled irrespective of their persons themselves. Microimpairment. It does this by loans are an inclusive and suggesting that ICT be used dignified way to provide as a means to modify prenew opportunities and established rules for achieving expand the options for goals, instead of dwelling on disabled persons. An the restrictions and abundance of potential alterlimitations resulting from a binatives exist that help in ological impairment. Whereas reducing financial barriers to impairments are usually not assistive technology access. curable, the constraints Among these are a range of resulting from them can possibilities related to often be surmounted or funding, tax incentives, and avoided through social equipment recycling. change and proper Services like the provision accommodation. of ICT training for persons The Foundation’s early Source: with a visual impairment or initiatives focused on the an intellectual impairment have proven to be very successful. Elderly promotion of greater access to ICT, through the provision of persons are also using their newly learnt computer skills, in order to Microsoft software, ICT equipment and Internet access. However, keep in touch with friends and family, both in Malta and abroad. in itself, giving access to a computer, or any other ICT device or FITA’s training personnel are certified by the British Computer service, may not necessarily help. One must go beyond the basic Association for the Blind (BCAB), and apart from being members issue of access to the larger issue of how ICT-based ‘solutions’ can of the European Design for All e-Accessibility Network (EDEAN) effectively help the individual. FITA benefit from a network of highly knowledgeable disabled Inclusive training and organic growth ICT users who help to monitor accessibility aspects of the ICT Over the past years, inclusive education in Malta has led to higher industry. The involvement of stakeholders in the planning and expectations. More disabled persons can now aim for a good job, implementation of the Foundation’s initiatives is highly valued. financial independence and greater participation in the society. Partnership with business entities is particularly relevant since FITA’s recent services and initiatives are progressively evolving to accessibility to products and services, access to employment become content focused. The importance for assistive technology to become ubiquitous, the availability of accessible ICT training and changing attitudes cannot be achieved if economic (particularly European computer driving licence certification), em- considerations are ignored. ICT consultancy was always central to phasis on ICT accessibility audits and support for the creation of FITA’s role as an information provider. Many schools, businesses and individuals have benefited from this free service, in order to accessible software applications. The Foundation has collaborated with the University of Malta provide the necessary ICT accommodation for disabled students on projects and creation of courses focusing on ICT accessibility. and employees. November 2006 |


An example where anti-discrimination legislation guaranteed accessibility in ICT, was the requirement for school computer labs to become accessible. In order to deter theft, these were typically set up on the first or second floor. The installation of lifts or transfer of computer labs to the ground floor would not have been achieved so quickly without a law that prohibited discrimination against disabled persons. Website and software accessibility is another area that benefits strongly from the EOA. Together with other stakeholders, FITA is involved in the development of ICT design standards that regulate Maltese websites in order to ensure accessibility to disabled persons and users of assistive technology.

Concerted efforts for success Involvement in EU programmes is also a high priority for the Foundation. It is involved in a Leonardo Pilot Project, which is creating a ‘Train the Trainer Course in Entrepreneurship’. The Foundation’s primary goal is to make this information accessible to disabled persons. This, together with the necessary ICT tools, will place them on a level playing field with other budding entrepreneurs and open additional possibilities apart from employment.

The Foundation also seeks to promote the inclusion of ICT accessibility as a basic criterion in the early stages of project planning. It is also working in order to build on accessibility expertise in order to boost the competitiveness of the local ICT industry. Another area important to FITA is the development of Maltese speech synthesis to be used not only by the blind but also by all Maltese speakers, in diverse applications where audio can be used as the main information medium. Technological improvements are ongoing, but the greater involvement of disabled persons in decision making roles will help guarantee that their rights are safeguarded. The success of FITA was spurred by the unified vision arising out of strong collaboration with different entities working in ICT related areas. However, much more is left to do. Greater rationalisation so as to minimise duplication of work and waste of resources is amongst the primary goals. Government and private enterprise must cooperate in developing better policy and service delivery by identifying clear lines of responsibility for co-ordinating their efforts, since a ‘joined up’ approach has already proven to reduce the fragmentation that can create barriers to community participation. 

Healthcare providers benefit from broadband Thousands of healthcare providers throughout Australia are now reaping the benefits of business grade broadband, thanks to the Australian Government’s ‘Broadband for Health’ programme. Business grade broadband is a high-speed, always-on, communications link that provides faster access to vital healthcare information such as pathology results, hospital discharge summaries, specialist reports and x-ray images. High-speed access to clinical information is helping to improve healthcare processes; reduce the need for travel; improve communication; assist in education; reduce phone costs and lessen isolation for those especially in rural and remote areas. The Australian Government’s ‘Broadband for Health’ programme will spend $69 million over three years to 30 June 2007 to support the uptake of broadband services in general practices, aboriginal community controlled health services and community pharmacies nationwide. The Australian Government’s Eastern Goldfields Regional Reference Site (EGRRS) is an excellent example of how broadband can improve healthcare services in regional communities by increasing safety, quality and efficiency though communications infrastructure. In recognition of its excellence, on 7 March 2006 the EGRRS project has won the Australian Telecommunications Users Group award for Best Communications Solution (Regional). Dr.Andrew Siegmund, an EGRRS participant and a general practice project manager, said that with the implementation of the network, his practice had gone from very basic systems to a


cutting-edge technology network without problems.” We can see benefits. The network is running smoothly and we are saving on costs. We’ve seen improvements in the way we run our practice using the applications the network carries,” Dr Siegmund adds. EGRRS participants moved on 1 July 2006 to the locally owned GoldHealth Network and continue to see the benefits of being part of a health services network. The ‘Broadband for Health’ programme draws together several government initiatives including the ‘Access to Broadband Technology’ initiative to support health sector broadband connectivity. It has strong links to the ‘National Broadband Strategy’ that is managed by the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts (http:// The programme receives stakeholder input through the Broadband for Health Working Group, made up of key health, consumer, government and industry representatives. More information can be availed on the Australian Government’s Broadband for Health programme at the new Managed Health Network Grants initiative (http://www.  For further details, visit : Source: The article has been contributed by the e-Health and Technology Branch of the Australian Department of Health and Ageing.

i4d | November 2006


Doing IT... Sans eyes Charudatta V. Jadhav is General Secretary, All India Chess Federation for the Blind (AICFB), Executive Board Member, International Braille Chess Association (IBCA) & Project Manager, GTL India Ltd. ( He has shared his experience with us during a face to face interaction with Dipanjan Banerjee ( Nothing is ‘impossible’ Imagine a visually impaired person using a mobile phone to connect to his friends and colleagues. Not a regular sight, ha? ..or for that matter, am I joking? Definitely not! An old English saying – ‘seeing is believing’ came to my mind when I saw Charudatta V. Jadhav – a visually impaired person, using his Nokia phone with almost the same deft and dexterity like any one of us with normal vision. Of course, he uses special screen-reading software to operate his phone but the sheer the speed at which he can search through his numbers will dazzle anybody. I was quite flabbergasted to receive a mobile number from my Editor to coordinate Jadhav on the time and venue for his interview with i4d, and more so, when I found that he takes his call by himself and even gives a callback, if he is not able to answer his call. When you meet him for the first time he seems to be as helpless as any other visually challenged person, whom we generally come across. Put on a conversation with him and soon you will discover his gleaming intelligence and the mine of knowledge he posses.

Overcoming visual disability Overcoming his visual disability, he has emerged as one of the very few visually impaired IT professionals to make a mark. He is currently working as a project manager in GTL - a leading network solution provider company of India. As a matter of fact, Jadhav has some other identities as well. He is an Executive Board Member of International Braille Chess Association (IBCA) and November 2006 |

General Secretary of All India Chess Federation for the Blind (AICFB He has represented India in the International Blind Chess Championship for 9 times. He has won 2 international championships and bagged 4 national championships. He has captained the Indian team for blind chess players over four consecutive years - between 2000-

learn the Braille language for completing his school and university. After completing college, he worked with a public bank for 15 long years, in the position of a clerical staff. However, he always had bigger dreams for himself and at one time he finally chose to chase them. Leaving his bank job he trained himself in IT skills. Presently he holds a master’s

2004, and during this tenure he led the team to international competitions in Poland and Spain. Till now he has authored a total of 17 books on chess, the most remarkable being the one titled – ‘Spanish Opening’, released in 2003. However, all this success came after a long, hard toil since the time he lost his eyesight at the age of 13. He defines the toughest time of his life was in making himself to

degree in computer applications and earned advance certifications in software programming and network security. For quite sometime he did freelance software development to improve his skills and eventually, in 2004 he was offered job of a software developer by GTL.

Get inspired… Working with this company Jadhav has


ICT services for differently able by DIRF The Digital Information Research Foundation (DIRF), an organisation based in India, has been involved in enabling the disadvantaged or disabled to get integrated in the main stream of life. The oganisation believes in the concept that disable are ‘differentially abled’. The DIRF has conducted numerous workshops and training programmes for disabled students at different institutions in Chennai (India). The main centre for the ICT for Disadvantaged programme is the St. Louis Institute for the Deaf and Blind & College for the Deaf located at Chennai which is a reputed institution for deaf and blind and has been functioning since 1962. The organization provides service to the disabled students through email transfer. As these students do not have Internet access the general mail is sent to the school and the collective responses from the students are transferred to the organisation. The future plan is to create a portal for disabled; the portal will serve the needs of disabled. It will collect all the needed information to the disabled particularly to the deaf that would sever as a tool for self learning and help to make the disabled people independent and self supportive. Source:


Charudatta V. Jadhav has handled on a number of projects, the most remarkable being the development of ‘Talk 64’ – the first chess software for blind being developed by GTL Foundation.

handled on a number of projects, the most remarkable being the development of ‘Talk 64’ – the first chess software for blind being developed by GTL Foundation. This ‘first-of-its-kind’ complete chess training and gaming software especially designed for visually impaired persons have a high-performance chess engine coupled with simultaneous speech engine that reads out every move, instruction and detail throughout a game. A chatter feature has also been provided, whereby the software interacts with the player via comments, giving the player a feel of actually playing with another person. The voice, speed and pitch of the speech can be customized according to user’s preferences and can be set to either English or German language. Talk 64 also supports Engine Plug-in Architecture, wherein a user can download freely available chess engines supporting the Winboard protocol, and plug them in to the software very easily. It also supports a Synthesizer Plug-in Architecture, wherein the user can easily plug-in various speech synthesizers supporting the Microsoft Speech API 5.1, to get the benefit of various voices and voice quality. The software also enables users to save and resume matches, and analyse them later. In addition, it comes with 100,000 pre-loaded games of international championships and tournaments to enable self-learning and reference. Among all his notable accomplishments the one closest to his heart was the establishment of All India Chess Federation for the Blind (AICFB), back in the year 1995. In the very next year of its

foundation, AICFB represented India in the World Chess Championship for Blind. From there it has been a never-ending story about his passion for chess and his dream to inspire more and more blind people like him to take up the game of chess. He derives great pleasure from teaching young blind chess players on the art of the game. Very recently, AICFB in association with IBCA and All India Chess Federation (AICF) organised the XIth International Individual Chess Championship for the Blind from 8-19 October 2006 in Goa, India. This grand event, held for the first time outside Europe was inaugurated by the honourable Chief Minister of Goa amidst an august gathering of eminent people from national and international chess circuit. 82 players from 31 different countries contested the championship. With generous support and endorsement by Ministry of Sports & Youth Affairs-Government of India, Sports Authority of Goa, Goa State Chess Association, GTL Foundation and a host of corporate sponsors, the event proved to be a grand success. However, for Jadhav this is just the beginning of the long journey that he has embarked upon for himself and for many other fellow blind chess players in India and across the world. Currently, he is working on another noble initiative of GTL Foundation involving development of screen reader software for Windows, which can be used by blind people to learn and use computers. 


i4d | November 2006


Technology for the deaf to go mainstream The technology comes to the aid of hearing impaired, that a transcript of the lecture can be provided in realtime and can be displayed on a screen in the lecture hall.

Technology that was initially designed to help deaf university students has a potentially much wider use. How does a university student who is profoundly deaf or just hard of hearing cope with lectures where the spoken word is the main, if not the only, communication mechanism? Until recently with the help of some sub-optimal solutions: • Reading the lips of the lecturer is not really an option as the student needs to be very close and the lecturer has always got to be facing them. • Having an interpreter attend all the lectures and either sign or lip-speak is expensive, is difficult to organise as there are a limited number of interpreters, and it makes the student very dependent on a third party. This is only practical for major lectures or conferences where many deaf people may be attending. • Using a stenographer to type the lecture in real time has the same limitations as an interpreter, but does have the added benefit of a providing a permanent written transcript that can be used by the deaf student, as well as others, later. • Having the lecturer provide notes before the lecture is not natural for the lecturer nor will it reflect the dynamic nature of a live lecture.

Speech recognition technology

Peter S Abrahams Accessibility and Usability Practice Leader Bloor Research, UK

November 2006 |

None of these solutions are practical for an average hearing-impaired student. In 1999 some Universities and IBM set up the Liberated Learning Consortium to see how technology could improve the situation. IBM had a speech recognition product called ViaVoice and the consortium was set up to see if it could be used in the lecture environment.

Some initial trials showed that the technology had potential but there were some major issues, the first being that the lecturer was not adding in any punctuation, ViaVoice was designed for dictation and the person dictating would add in commands like comma, full stop, new paragraph so one gets landed up with text that looks like this paragraph which is very difficult to read in real time even worse it would pick up commands such as save and close and close down the application in the middle of the lecture. ‘So keeping the same speech recognition engine... Some modifications were made... Firstly to stop the system recognising and acting on commands... Secondly to recognise that lecturers speak in small chunks with pauses in between... And laying out these chunks on separate lines with ellipses at the end... Made the text much easier to read... Various options were tried and tests are still going on but this format seems to work well... As I hope you can see from this example… ’ The technology proved itself in the realtime environment but it was not really practical because it was difficult for the lecturer to do the initial training and set up.

Improvisation over technology solutions For the solution to really work the recognition rate has to be in the high 90s. This is difficult to achieve and that can only happen if the speech recognition engine can learn the lecturer’s voice. Lecturers are busy


people and would be willing to spend up to a couple of hours training the system, but with the specialist language this was not normally enough. The solution was to record the audio of the lecture, let the engine do its best and then have an editor correct its mistakes. After a few live lectures the recognition rate dramatically improves into the 90s. The set up of the equipment at the beginning of the lecture was automated so reducing an unnecessary burden on the lecturer. This technology means that a transcript of the lecture can be provided in real-time and can be displayed on a screen in the lecture hall. It is also possible to transmit it to portable devices, such as a PDA, to individual students. The deaf student is now able to follow the lecture, just like any other student, so with this technology the student is no longer disabled. In a sense the student is now more able than an unimpaired student. How often, when you are listening to a lecture, have you wanted an instant replay of the last few sentences, either because you did not fully understand first time, or because you were momentarily distracted and did not hear everything? The technology display shows the last few chunks so a student with the technology is more able. Even more important than the instant replay is the fact that at the end of the lecture there is a complete transcript available ondemand. This is not just a boon for the hearing impaired students but for all students. However good students are at note taking, and many are not, the ability to go back to the lecture and read the transcript of any section will improve the learning experience. The technology has been developed much further by enabling the transcript to be synchronised with audio or video recordings and with any powerpoint presentation material. Over the web and on-demand a student can then see the transcript alongside the appropriate audio, video or slide. This is a complete solution for the hearing impaired student and also provides completely new opportunities to other students such as: • ‘Attending’ a lecture that they could not attend live. • Distance learning. • Foreign students often find it easier to read than listen; the combination of the audio with the transcript is a powerful learning tool. • Students with learning difficulties can benefit from the ability to replay and to choose the media.

• All students benefit from the ability to have a search engine find relevant sections of the transcripts. The technology has been named IBM ViaScribe. Up to this point all the development has revolved around the university student and lecture environment. It has now been developed sufficiently to consider other environments where it could be beneficial. Some research has started into the school environment with some initial success and some new challenges. However, research into its use in pubic sector organisations and private enterprises suggests it will have enormous potential.A study at RBC Financial Group identified the following opportunities: • Client transaction: a client who is deaf, or hard of hearing, or for whom English is a second language, requests services from an RBC employee. The RBC employee, trained in the use of IBM ViaScribe, speaks naturally to the client. The software simultaneously transcribes the conversation, making it available as a text display, and creating a text copy for the client. The synchronous audio and text transcript can also be used as a training tool to study employee/customer interactions. • Classroom/trainer: multi-media lecture/presentation notes for in-house training and accreditation sessions can be made available via the web. Real time captioning of the presentation materials is also possible. Using IBM ViaScribe in this way creates access for deaf/hard of hearing participants and also creates an additional learning channel for non-English speakers. • Teleconference enhancement: real time captioning of calls can eliminate comprehension problems commonly associated with poor audio quality during teleconferences. Record keeping is also enhanced as the transcript verifies the content for participants in real time, can be used to generate meeting minutes, and allows full access to the content for those who are either late or unable to attend. • Webcast transcription: existing webcasts could be captioned, complete with speaker identification. ViaScribe is not yet available as a commercial product but any organisation that believes they could benefit from this technology should contact the Liberated Learning Consortium. It is wonderful to see research into accessibility creating a tool that will be valued by all members of society. It can be hoped that the use of this type of technology will become commonplace over the next five years.  (The article is reprinted from Bloor Research site: business/innovation/content.php?cid=8609)

ICT services for differently able by DIRF The Digital Information Research Foundation (DIRF), an organisation based in India, has been involved in enabling the disadvantaged or disabled to get integrated in the main stream of life. The oganisation believes in the concept that disable are ‘differentially abled’. The DIRF has conducted numerous workshops and training programmes for disabled students at different institutions in Chennai (India). The main centre for the ICT for Disadvantaged programme is the St. Louis Institute for the Deaf and Blind & College for the Deaf located at Chennai which is a reputed institution for deaf and blind and has been functioning since 1962.


The organisation provides service to the disabled students through email transfer. As these students do not have Internet access the general mail is sent to the school and the collective responses from the students are transferred to the organisation. The future plan is to create a portal for disabled; the portal will serve the needs of disabled. It will collect all the needed information to the disabled particularly to the deaf that would sever as a tool for self learning and help to make the disabled people independent and self supportive. Source:

i4d | November 2006

Vol. IV No. 11

November 2006

Information for development


Nictor, wireless technology for irrigation Nictor- a wireless device developed in Melbourne, Australia is heralding a revolution that could save massive amounts of water and help to upkeep the state’s agriculture industry afloat. The wireless technology is the core part of the system that gets water to the crop and farm on demand basis, more efficiently than a conventional irrigation system and, requires less water to be used. Each nictor, is wired to five sensors — they can be soil moisture sensors, or air temperature or leaf sensors — and the wireless technology passes the information to a laptop computer, the base station. The sensor measures the soil moisture and activates the drip irrigation system; the water comes on when the soil moisture gets too low. The three-year, $4.2 million research programme is being conducted by the Melbourne Water Research Centre, NICTA, Goulburn Murray Water, and Melbourne University’s engineering, as well as land and food departments.

Community radio

EU to consider the laws concerning to RFID tags In response to the perceived threat being posed to privacy by radio tags that emerged in EU study of technology, the commissioner Viviane Reding assured citizens that radio tags would not lead to any large-scale surveillance. These RFID (radio frequency ID) tags are increasingly used by businesses to November 2006 |

monitor goods as they move along supply chains. The cross section of the population are willing to be convinced that RFID can bring benefits but they want to be reassured that it will not compromise their privacy. The Information Society Commissioner, Ms Reding expressed her concern at a conference called to mark the end of a six-month EU consultation exercise, in which it sought opinions about the growing use of radio-frequency ID (RFID) tags. The EU would announce the final conclusions from the consultation process by the end of year 2006 & if needed new laws would be drafted in 2007. rce me om e-C


Sahara Care House, India is to offer online services for NRIs Sahara India is to offer NRI services, like transactions, medical cover, wedding planning and even delivering of fresh flowers and gifts on online basis. Sahara Care House, a single window service platform would be helping out with this service for the Indians residing overseas and, who want to get connected with their families and friends in India. Spread across 197 Indian cities across, the service will be launc-hed in Britain next week.It comes with a subscription-funded business of 40 pounds, an annual registration fee, besides an additional 800 pounds advance against the services in future.

Ugandan tourism ministry adopted ICT policies The ministry of tourism trade and industry in Uganda has been accredited to become the first ministry to launch an Information

and Communication Technology policy that will improve information flow within the ministry and its affiliated institutions. The sector policy launched by Dr Ham Mulira, the ICT minister is expected to boost tourism and trade figures by availing qualitative information to tourists and investors in an efficient manner. Under the project the ministry has an online documents database ( that facilitates sharing of documents within the sector through a documents database (Intranet) and the website has been redesigned to meet existing needs. Under the project guidelines have also been developed for the procurement of Information and Communication Technology tools and an accepted standard system for efficient governance.

Reliance Communications to enter into PDA market Reliance Communications is planning to enter high-end wireless data services market in India and, is in various stages of negotiations with personal hand-held device and personal digital assistant (PDA) manufacturers across the world. The devices have corporate data applications, such as web browsing, Internet faxing, instant messaging (IM), supporting of a number of mail accounts on a single device, apart from the regular personal digital assistant (PDA) functionalities, such as Microsoft Office (including Word, PowerPoint and Excel). This will help Reliance Communications to increase its average revenue per year. The host of manufacturers with whom Reliance is negotiating includes Motorola in the US, Nokia in Finland, NEC and Matsushita in Japan, LG and Samsung in Korea and other handset makers in Taiwan and China.


The i4d News

Reliance in conversation with co-operative societies to connect rural India Reliance group had recently entered into negotiations with co-operative societies to unleash the ICT potential among rural masses in India. The corporate giant has made a move to take technology in a more natural way, conditioned to rural mode of transaction. Besides, the trust cooperatives’ hold for the principles of equity, economic growth and the confidence it has built ict_stories/Images/r ural_ICTs/ among the ordinary people would also have a lasting effect. pondicherry.jpg In alignment with the government’s commitment for rural development, employment generation and making every village a knowledge centre, the Reliance, found that leveraging the capacity of cooperatives would be helpful in the long run to bring technology to grassroots, thereby reducing the existing disparities to the minimum.



UNESCO launches e-Governance project in the Caribbean United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation(UNESCO), in collaboration with the Caribbean Centre for the Development Administration (CARICAD), and the United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) launches a series of electronic governance related capacity development activities in Caribbean. These activities are being implemented within the framework of UNESCO’s project ‘ICTs as tools to improve local governance in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean’ supporting the implementation of eGgovernance components of the action-oriented e-Government strategies for countries of the Caribbean Region.

e-Governance enters in rural region in India as Prajahita e-Governance is taking its doorsteps towards rural areas. In India, the Nalgonda, Andhra Pradesh district administration, is set to launch a website named, ‘Prajahita’. Home Minister K. Jana Reddy will formally launch the project on the Andhra Pradesh Formation Day. Prajahita web site would come handy for those people who want to file their complaints and applications to officials without visiting to the Collectorate. Prajahita is Telgu version of the ‘Lokvani’ of Sitapur, UP, India.



UK residential college opens new ICT learning centre for disabled students Portland College, UK residential college for physically disabled students has unveiled the first ICT centre for disabled students. This college has around 300 students aged between 16 and 60 and all are physically disabled. This new ICT centre has all facilities for learning and career development which will provide all benefits like high standard equipment for learning. With help from a number of charitable donations and corporate sponsorships, they raised the sum of £3.6million to open the centre this year.

ance of e-Learning as an essential feature for modernisation and adaptation of training systems across the European Union may continue with the substantial exclusion of this group. e-ISOTIS (Information Society Open To ImpairmentS), the nonprofit making organisation founded in December 2002, working with people with disabilities, elderly, their spouses as well as members of the ICT (Information Communication Technology) community, worldwide, is the dissemination leader of this project.


AbilityNet, home for differently abled to get connected AbilityNet is a charity group based in the UK that helps people with different disabilities is to get online with its clients, ranging from people with severe paralysis to those dealing with dyslexia, repetitive strain injury or just the effects of getting older. Evidences show that only 13 percent of people are born with their disability, the other 80 percent acquire their disability in the country, says Pamela Hardaker of AbilityNet. For these people, learning to how to use technology becomes imperative. It would help to fill the gaps in their lives that their disability has created. The organisation brings new hopes and cheers to such lives in harmony with communication technologies.

Audio Haptics for visually impaired ‘Audio Haptics’, the project seeks to improve the inclusion of workers or trainees who are blind or visually impaired in vocational training programmes using visual materials, by delivering these in a non visual format, which is touch and sound. The project in European Union will design, produce and test pilot learning materials, as well as create an online training programme for teachers. The need is identified by the low employment levels and specialist training facilities available for this group. Unless facilities and systems are devised and introduced now, the accept-

Eliza, a friendly robot to attend sick children Telemedicine researchers of University of Queensland in Australia are using a robot by name Eliza to bridge the distances and, to improve the delivery of specialist medical care. Developed by university’s Centre for Online Health - a world leader in telemedicine research, Eliza, has began its work at Mt Isa Hospital this week. The wireless robots can be wheeled to the bedside of sick children for video-link consultations with Brisbane specialists, reducing the need for local doctors or families to travel to the city for specialist care. A built-in camera and microphone enables the specialist to see and speak with the i4d | November 2006

child. The robot project is an extension of the telepaediatric research led by the Centre for Online Health, in collaboration with the Royal Children’s Hospital in Brisbane.


Government initiated call centre training for rural South Africans A government move has been made in South Africa to train about 30, 000 rural citizens to work in call centres to make the country a viable destination for business process outsourcing for international companies. As an initial step, 1 000 people will be trained on the programme and the propsal is under consideration by the labour department. The department of communications has finalised an incentive package on ICT to produce ten developmental call centres that government intends to locate in rural areas, with the aim of creating employment in economically-depressed areas. The National Treasury is also involved in support measures for business process outsourcing and offshoring that has the potential for massive job creation in centres designed to produce a world-class service.


Technology to guide visually impaired Satellite can navigate people (visually impaired) to get through office interiors, a challenge indeed enabled by an equipment based on Global Positioning System (GPS), satellites by Georgia Institute of Technology. The researchers of the Institute are trying to improvise on the GPS. Its System for Wearable Audio Navigation (SWAN), consists of a wearable computer connected to a headband packed with sensors that help blind to know where they are and, how to get where they are going. Besides, with a pendant-sized wireless GPS tracker, there are light sensors and thermometres that help to distinguish between indoors and outdoors. Cameras gauge how far away objects and obstacles are. A compass establishes direction. And an inertia detector November 2006 |

Electronic tags for passengers at airports to counter terrorism Electronic tagging system has been configured by scientists as a mechanism to counter terrorism in airports.In the wake of rising crime across world, the work is being carried out at a new research centre, based at University College London, set up to find technological solutions to crime. The prototype technology is to be tested at an airport in Hungary, and if successful, would become a reality in two years. Accordingly, each passenger would be issued with a tag at checkin. Airports would be fitted with a network of combined panoramic cameras and RFID (radio frequency ID) tag readers, which would monitor the movements of people around the terminal building. The tags do not store any data, but emit a signal containing a unique ID which could be cross examined with passenger identification information.

tracks the roll, pitch and yaw of the user’s head. All the data are crunched by a computer in a backpack, which relays high-pitch sonar-like signals that direct users to their destinations. It also works with a database of maps and floor plans to help pinpoint each sidewalk, door, hall and stairwell. Bruce Walker, an assistant psychology professor who helped to develop the system, said in a few years it could be used to help guide blind people, first-responders to emergencies or soldiers through unknown territory.

T3 Communications launches Mobile Push Email solution for mobile phone users T3 Communications Limited has introduced the Visto Mobile Push Email solution for mobile subscribers to access their cooperate and personal email, calendar, contact/personal information management (PIM) and other corporate data directly on their mobile handsets. Visto Mobile is a complete PIM solution, which helps users to handle their emails, calendars, contacts list between their PCs and their mobile phones. T3 collaborated with Vmobile and Celtel Nigeria to develop the PIM solution . T3 is offering the various ICT solution like Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Call Centre based solutions to enterprises and Personal Information Management (PIM) solutions to telecommunications operators. T3 is teamed up with Visto to design the Mobile Push Email solution for mobile devices. TMC Net

Malawi equips with earthquake monitoring system Malawi has been given state-of-the-art geology equipment on 11th of October, enabling the country to join an international network of seismic monitoring stations. Located in Africa’s Rift Valley region makes, Malawi is an earth quake prone area. Installation of the system will enhance its networking and coordination, with all countries in the region. The system will be linked to the CTBTO in Geneva, allowing Malawi to verify any observations of earth movements with other stations around the globe. The International Earth Monitoring System, the first of its kind in Malawi, was donated by the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO) based in Geneva, Switzerland.


Ugandan parliamentarians to investigate into Nakaseke Telecentre Project Parliament of Uganda is to investigate the circumstances under which the government handled the procurement of the multi-million Nakaseke Telecentre project. The Telecentre began operating in March 1999 through a partnership between the Uganda National Commission for United Nations Education and Scientific Organisation (Unesco), Uganda Public Libraries Board (UPLB) and the Uganda Communications Commission. But the members of parliament were expressing shock over the facilities availed in


The i4d News

Shock and water resistant phone by Verizon Wireless Verizon Wireless and UTStarcom have brought out of the Verizon Wireless G’zOne Type-V handset equipment that is resistant to harsh weather conditions and exposure extreme temperature. Its features include a 2.0 megapixel digital camera, 15-second FLIX videos, speakerphone and voice activated dialing. It even comes equipped with IM for AOL, Yahoo! and MSN. The CDMA2000 1 X EV-DO, 800/1900 MHzband compatible G’zOne Type-V is also available online at www.verizonwi for $299.99 with a new two-year customer agreement .

comparison to the project that is worth of about Shs2.2b.The chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Mr Edward Baliddawa Kafuufu (Kigulu North), said they have decided to carry out an immediate audit for the project to help Uganda benefit from such ICT facilities.

offers free calls for the first 1,800 units worth of Rs. 2,160. The plan has already come into effect. Besides new customers, existing users can also opt for the plan by submitting a simple application, where the existing security deposit would be adjusted by payment of the remaining amount.

Kerala’s first railway station cyber-café launched Railtel Corporation Ltd. inaugurated, the first railway station cyber-café at Kochi in Kerala, India providing an unique broadband experience to travellers. Travellers can now buy a RailTel prepaid card from one location and use at any other RailTel cyber-café. RailTel, a subsidiary of the Indian Railways, plans to offer other value added services like printing, scanning, mobile charging and CD writing through these cafes. Passengers can also use the cafe for making net-telephony based ISD calls at affordable rates and also browse the Internet for Rs 20 per hour.


‘Rent-free rural fone’ by BSNL, India Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), India has introduced a special scheme called ‘Rent-free rural fone’ to encompass more rural population in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh. In a bid to serve more rural users, BSNL had made the attractive offer that requires the user to make a one-time payment of Rs. 1,200, which is non-refundable. In return the user can enjoy free incoming for two years. Moreover, the scheme also


‘eGIFTS’ wire transfer and telecommunication solution in three banks Bank of Communications, Doha Bank, and Mega International Commercial Bank Co. Ltd. have all selected the ‘eGIFTS’ wire transfer and telecommunication solution, an exciting next generation system designed to automate both payment and telecommunications processing of a bank. GIFTS Software, a leading provider of funds transfer, e-Banking and anti-money laundering solutions has announced this. GIFTS Software has been successfully providing software solutions to the financial community since 1996. Some of the benefits of the eGIFTS system include unprecedented system availability and ease of use, flexible hardware platform choices, simple product implementation and rollout. eGIFTS is a browser-based system. No special software is required on the user PC. Instead, users connect to the eGIFTS server by use of a web-browser.

Telecommunications to spearhead development: Namibian minister Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Namibia, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah urged to build a bridge the digital gap between different sections of the country’s population.

Speaking at the launch of new mobile phone operator Powercom’s new corporate brand and trading name, she emphasised on the significance of telecom services in building the knowledge infrastructure of a society. Appropriate and affordable means of communication is essential factor for the advancement of education, health, leisure, as well as cultural and sports services. Praising Powercom’s new corporate identity being unveiled less than two months after the company was awarded the country’s second GSM licence to compete with existing operator MTC, she said, ‘This is the reason why government had opened up telecommunications and welcomed new players such as Powercom in the telecommunications industry’.


Wireless broadband USB by Franklin Wireless Franklin Wireless is launching a wireless broadband USB modem that supports Windows Mobile and Windows XP, among other Oses.The CDU-550 enables PDAs, mini-tablets, and other mobile handhelds lacking PCMCIA slots to connect to the Internet with broadband-like speeds. Additionally, the resulting wireless connectivity is not restricted to WiFi hot spots, making it truly mobile. The CDU-550 is the first USB-dongle EVDO mobile broadband modem to be introduced in the U.S. The key features and specifications of the CDU-550, include radio, data options, data rate, hardware-interface etc. www.windowsfordevices.comz

New short-range wireless standard by Nokia Mobile technology firm Nokia announced to introduce new radio technology, to be known as ‘Wibree’. It would fit with other local linking systems, but would use just a fraction of the power, allowing for smaller and cheaper applications. It will provide radio links of up to 10 metres between various devices. It would also be easy to integrate with Bluetooth short-range radio technology, currently used to connect mobile phones to devices like headsets, printers or microphones. Nokia expects that the first commercial version will be available during the second quarter of next year. i4d | November 2006

Host Organisation

Ministry of Energy, Water and Communications Government of Malaysia

Putrajaya International Convention Centre (PICC) Putrajaya, Malaysia

Improved communication and information services are directly related to social and economic development of nations. Internet and modern communication platforms offer immense potential as multipurpose tools through which information and services can be delivered anytime and anywhere. However, upon delivery, the uptake of information and online services depends on the capacity of people and organisations. Again, of prime importance is service access points such as telecentres and borderless technologies like mobile technology as an way to address the 'reaching the unreached' and empowering the rural community. In the emerging global knowledge economy, it is imperative for countries, communities and enterprises to strategise towards adoption and use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and enhance their overall capacities. Asian countries are increasingly realising these critical factors of success and are becoming proactive in improving existing conditions. A lot of collaborative efforts are required between governments, industry, academia and civil society across nations to materialise these objectives of balanced development in a digital era. eASiA 2007 is an open ICT for development cooperation platform for Asian countries for discussing opportunities and challenges for promoting growth of ICT for development in Asia through consultative dialoguing, strategic planning, knowledge networking and business partnering. eASiA, through its five seminal conferences, will focus on five emerging application domains of ICT for Development - e-Government, ICT in Education, ICT and Rural Development, ICTenabled Health services and Mobile application and services for development. The five conferences - namely egov Asia 2007, Digital Learning Asia 2007, Telecentre Forum 2007, eHealth 2007 and mServe 2007 will address the issues of digital divide and identify and explore opportunities for Digital Asia.

ASiA 2007

ASiA 2007 1


Asian nations are emerging as most promising global economies; traditional governments and their ways of governance surely need to be redefined. With a plethora of public management and administrative challenges facing most Asian nations, coupled with heightened expectations of rapid socioeconomic development, the need for efficient government is higher than ever before. Modern ICTs provide boundless potential with proven credibility in transforming organisations and economies; governments across the world are increasingly getting active to embrace technology and leap-frog administrative reform. With a purpose of creating an invaluable Asian platform for consultative dialoguing, strategic planning, knowledge networking and business partnering in the field of e-Government, egov Asia 2007 will bring together some of the best minds from the highest echelons of government, industry, academia and civil society to discuss and deliberate on the key strategies for e-Government. Highlights: • National e-Government strategies • International and regional projects, case studies and best practices • Policy reforms for ICT-enabled governments • Models of e-Service delivery • Emerging technology solutions for eGovernment • Public private partnerships in eGovernment

ASiA 2007

ASiA 2007 3

Today Asian countries are competing with each other to be the frontrunner in technologyenabled education. While most countries do not want to miss the opportunity to connect to this ‘connected world’, the struggle to close the existing divides continues. Research and practices have confirmed that a holistic approach that integrates and emphasises process, be it capacity building of the educators or transforming pedagogy or creating localised and relevant ICT-based content, has substantial impact and sustainable and effective integration. Asia has geared up to this challenge. Within these countries, while the private sector and the civil society has assumed leadership in some countries, governments in others are drawing the roadmap for a systematic integration of technologies in education. Digital Learning Asia 2007 will bring some of the key drivers from the leading countries of technology-enabled education to deliberate on the pressing challenges of technology enabled education from capacity building to reengineering pedagogy, change management to providing digital access. Highlights • National strategies on ICT in education • Localisation, customisation and content development • Educating the educators • Re-engineering pedagogy • e-Learning trend and practices in higher education and school education • Education technology trends in Asia



Telecentres are increasingly emerging as one of the most important equalisers of digital divide among urban and rural citizens. Telecentres or common service centers are aimed at expanding access to ICTs. Telecentres as sustainable, multi-purpose service centres are emerging as a tool for empowerment of the community, enabling their access through ICTs to relevant information and common services. The Asian Telecentre Forum 2007 aims to bring the Asian practitioners on a platform for learning and sharing the experiences. Experts will be engaged in close assessment of issues relating to project monitoring steered by external financial support, from international development agencies and governments in Asia. Stakeholders from various sectors, viz., NGOs, Governments, Private sector, Donor agencies, Research organisations etc. will participate in this conference. There will be opportunity to showcase key project work and experiences through presentation sessions and/or panel discussions and through an exposition of products and projects.

There is a significant action happening in the sphere of e-Health globally led by experts in healthcare and hi-tech industries with an aim to fully harness the benefits available through convergence of the Internet and health care. eHealth is today’s tool for substantial productivity gains, while providing tomorrow’s instrument for restructured, citizen-centred health care.

The lack of adequate connectivity has been one of the biggest cause of the limited impact of ICT to bridge the digital divide. Mobile phones have spread throughout much of the developing world more quickly and deeply than any previous technology based as rolling out a mobile phone network is far cheaper than building a fixed-line systems and Internet networks for computers.

There are many examples of successful eHealth developments taking place in Asia including health information networks, electronic health records, telemedicine services, portable monitoring systems, and health portals. However, there are challenges to overcome in access, technology and the right practices. There are much more to gain from sharing knowledge on the existing practices and deliberating on the opportunities and possibilities that ICT use for healthcare delivery.

Mobiles offer a lot more services than phones and entertainment (Games, Screensaver, Ring tones, Movie clips). These include: news, stock prices; location tracking; telephone directory; mobile banking; ticket reservation; trading and so forth.

eHealth Asia 2007 aims to provide a platform to discuss the recent trends and emerging issues in the development of Information & communication science and technology and its integration in healthcare systems.

• Telecentre movement in Asia: Road ahead



• Partnerships for developing telecentre networks

e-Health in developing countries

e-Health administration and management

• Financing mechanism and sustainability factors of rural telecentres: A reality check

Rural telemedicine

Emerging technologies in e-Health

• Service delivery and capacity building through telecentres

Challenges and opportunities for collaborative action in e-Health

• • • • • • •


For any information/enquiry contact: Himanshu Kalra Tel: +60166852201

Dato Dr. Halim Man Secretary General Ministry of Energy, Water & Communications Government of Malaysia


Dr. M P Narayanan President CSDMS India


Dr. Milagros Rivera Associate Professor & Head Communications and New Media Program National University of Singapore

Maria Teresa M Camba Director, Field Operations National Computer Centre Commission on Information & Communications Technology

San Ng The Asia Foundation USA

m-Government m-Learn m-Agriculture m4development m-Health m-Infrastructure m-Services

Conference Secretariat Centre for Science, Development and Media Studies (CSDMS), G-4, Sector - 39, Noida - 201301, India Tel. : +91-120-2502181- 87 Fax: +91-120-2500060 Web: Email:




mServe Asia aims to discuss and showcase the different aspects of mobile services, technologies, implementation and implications, developments on the public administration and tie them to the existing and future m-Government, education, agriculture and other applications.The conference will provide a platform to share local and international developments, experiences and lessons learnt for knowledge sharing, and promote networking and business opportunity development.

Important Date Last date for receipt of abstracts: 15th December 2006

The eASiA 2007 conference will host an exhibition of latest e-solutions, services, initiatives and case studies from across Asia and beyond. Professional service providers, IT vendors, telecom venders, satellite providers, consulting firms, government agencies and national/ international development organisations involved in the domains of ICT for Development, education, governance and health, are participating in the exhibition.

ASiA 2007

Walter Fust Director General Swiss Agency for Development & Cooperation Switzerland

Amitabha Pande Secretary Inter-State Council Ministry of Home Affairs Government of India

Devindra Ramnarine Adviser (Public Sector Informatics) Governance & Institutional Development Division Commonwealth Secretariat, UK

Nooraini Mohamed Ismail Dean, Faculty of Administrative Science & Policy Studies Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), Malaysia

Norma Mansor Dean/ Professor Faculty of Economics & Administration, University of Malaya, Malaysia

Dr. A T Ariyaratne Founder Sarvodaya Sri Lanka

R. Chandrashekhar Additional Secretary Ministry of Communications & Information Technology Government of India

Host Organisation Ministry of Energy,Water and Communications, Malaysia The Ministry is the key policy formulator and service regulator in Energy,Water and Communications sectors in Malaysia.The Ministry's main thrust is to facilitate and regulate the growth of industries in these sectors to ensure the availability of high quality, efficient and safe services at a reasonable price to consumers throughout the country.The regulatory function of the Ministry is undertaken through its regulatory bodies, namely, the Energy Commission and the Communications and Multimedia Commission. With an objective to establish Malaysia as a global centre and hub for communications information content services; the Ministry has provided leadership in the provision of infrastructure and services for the effective roll-out of eGovernance and eLearning.

International Government Partners The Commission in Information and Communications Technology is the primary policy, planning, coordinating, implementing, regulating, and administrative entity of the executive branch of Government that promotes, develops, and regulates integrated and strategic ICT systems and reliable and cost-efficient communication facilities and services. The Commission's aim is to develop the country as a world-class ICT services provider, provide government services to stakeholders online, provide affordable Internet access to all segments of the population, develop an ICT enabled workforce, and create an enabling legal and regulatory environment.

The National Computer Center (NCC) fundamental functions were to provide information bases for integrated planning and implementation of development programs and operational activities in the government. It was also tasked to provide computer service support, integrate electronic data processing (EDP) operations in government, and establish an EDP Educational Center.Today, NCC lends its full support to the administration's ICT thrust by forging strategic alliances with the private sector, coordinating ICT activities, developing human capital, promoting ICT utilization in all sectors of the society, and advocating Philippine ICTs services worldwide.

Supporting Partners The Asia Foundation is a non-profit, nongovernmental organization that supports programs in Asia that help improve governance and law, economic reform and development, women's empowerment, and international relations. The ICT Program of The Foundations encompasses eGovernance, ICT in Economic Growth and eCivil Society for fostering education and training through eLearning. Bellanet promotes and facilitates effective collaboration within the international community, especially through the use of ICTs. Bellanet aims to support effective development practice by sharing its expertise in information and communication technologies as well as its skills in facilitating organisational learning and knowledge sharing.

strengthening regional understanding and cooperation in education, science and culture for a better quality of life. Sarvodaya is dedicated to making a positive difference to the lives of rural Sri Lankans. Sarvodaya are dedicated to the sustainable empowerment of people through self-help and collective support, to non-violence and peace. Sarvodaya's District Telecenters are the coordinating centers for all development activities of the organization in a particular district providing IT facilities for community development island-wide and coordinating between the Village Information Centers and each serves over 300 villages representing all the divisional secretariats within the district.

The Commonwealth is an association of 53 independent states consulting and co-operating in the common interests of their peoples and in the promotion of international understanding and world peace. To help address disparities in education and improve its delivery the Secreatraiat directs its efforts at improving enrolment and retention in primary education and gender disparities at the primary and secondary education levels. is both a social investment program that supports grassroots telecentre networks and a loose family of organizations with a common commit-ment to helping the telecentre movement aims to reinforce a global movement by finding ways that people, communities and networks can connect over common issues to make telecentres stronger and better, together. The strategy is to make investments to benefit the whole telecentre ecosystem.

Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) is Switzerland's international cooperation agency within the Swiss Foreign Ministry. Together with other federal offices, the SDC is responsible for overall coordination of development activities and cooperation with Eastern Europe, as well as humanitarian aid. SDC's development cooperation activities in the Asian region aims at diminishing poverty, developing structures for a sustainable use of resources, supporting good governance, reducing social tensions, improving environmental conditions etc.

In India USAID is investing in economic growth, health, disaster management, environment and equity in India and in programs that focus on areas where help is needed most and people-level impact is high. USAID is also encouraging cutting edge alliances between U.S. and Indian organizations to quicken the pace of progress. USAID also promotes use of cutting-edge approaches in agriculture (biotechnology, improved production methods and marketing) and “egovernance� systems and promotes public-private partner- ships as the cornerstone of success of such initiatives.

SEAMEO ,The Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) was established on 30 November 1965 as a chartered international organization whose purpose is to promote cooperation in education, science and culture in the Southeast Asian region.The vision is to have a dynamic, self reliant, strategic, policy-driven and internationally recognized regional organization for

Warisan Global is a project management for knowledge initiatives and services outsource company based in Malaysia. Set up in 2000, the comapny helps out government and corporate enterprises to deliver specific and specialised initiatives in ICT development and training programmes, aimed towards reducing the digital divide.

Institutional Partners

The National University of Singapore (NUS) is a multi-campus university of global standing, with distinctive strengths in education and research and an entrepreneurial dimension.The NUS mission comprises three mutually reinforcing thrusts: quality education, high impact research and service to country and society. NUS strives to provide a balanced, high quality education that nurtures the spirit of inquiry and initiative, and which allows students to realise their aspirations and potential. In recent years, NUS has carried out extensive researches in eGovernance and community development. UiTM is Malaysia's premier institution of higher learning that has experienced a phenomenal growth since its inception in 1956.The university has expanded nationwide with 3 satellite campuses, 12 branch campuses, 8 city campuses, 19 affiliated colleges and a smart campus for the future. Its formation is based on a vision of outstanding scholarship and academic excellence that is capable of providing leadership in all fields of internationally recognised professional study. This serves as catalyst for greater strides in the development of the university and the nation. Universiti Malaya is the first University of Malaysia, situated in the southwest of Kuala Lumpur - the capital city of Malaysia. The University motto, "Ilmu Punca Kemajuan" (Knowledge is the Key to Success) reflects the philosophy of the University in its constinous endeavour to seek knowledge in all fields to produce successful graduates and a successful nation.The university has a vision to be an internationally renowed institution of higher learning in research, innovation, publication and teaching. University of Malya


ICT and disability : the case of ASK-IT ASK-IT aims at enabling mobility impaired people to travel independently from one country to another, making use of the latest ICT available, in an accessible and affordable manner.

Karel Van Isacker Project Manager

Zoe Apostolopoulou Legal Representative Information Society Open to ImpairmentS (e-ISOTIS) Greece

November 2006 |

ASK-IT project ASK-IT (Ambient Intelligence System of Agents for Knowledge based and Integrated Services for Mobility Impaired users) is an integrated project partially financed by the EC’s DG Information Society and Media under FP6, and aims at developing an extended ambient intelligence space for the integration of functions and services for elderly and people with disabilities across various environments (car, bus, airplane, home, work, leisure and sport). Through the use of ICT systems following the ‘design for all’ ethos, the provision of relevant content, and the advantage of both Internet and mobile-based services, ASK-IT aims at addressing specifically the following impairments: • Lower and upper limb impairment • Wheelchair users • Upper body impairment • Physiological impairment • Communication impairment • Psychological impairment • Cognitive impairment • Vision impairment • Hearing impairment More than 50 project partners from 13 European countries and also Mexico participate in this project. The project leader is SIEMENS S.A.(Spain), the technical/scientific leader is CERTH/HIT (Centre for Research and Technology Hellas / Hellenic Institute of Transport), while the global dissemination is led by e-ISOTIS (Information Society Open To ImpairmentS). In its quest to support the user in a holistic manner, ASK-IT focuses on geo-referenced and personalised transport and tourism services. The emphasis is on seamless service provision, independent of the media, user location (i.e. indoors, outdoors, in a city, during a trip, etc.), user type and residual abilities.

The Information Technology (IT) capabilities have seem-ingly infinite potential usefulness for elderly and disabled (E&D) users, given their relatively limited mobility and specific requirements for ‘assistive’ services. This population needs and deserves a ‘design for all’ consideration to access easily both the Internet and mobilebased services that calls for the following requirements: • Easy to use ‘one stop shop’ service and information delivery sites: offering relevant and integrated content as needed, i.e. age-concerned info on travel, accessible transport and accommodation, events and sites of interest, and ‘how to’ advice on getting there; • Alternative data delivery methods: methods that will adapt the information context and the user interface to individual abilities, interest and preferences, whether derived from the user profile or implied by the user’s habits; • Relevant and reliable services: services that are available on call by the user throughout a journey or service request, providing guidance for coping with regional variations that may affect the specific service needed; • Geo-referenced services: services that allow the user to request ‘nearby’ info and services; • Integrated general-market services: services that enable access to any information, offering a full choice and ability to purchase the relevant service in a convenient and worry-free way. ASK-IT offers solutions to all these requirements and, in this respect will offer the following services: • Localisation services • Accessible Intermodal Route Guidance services


• • • • •

e-Commerce and e-Payment services Domotic services In-vehicle services Health and Social Care services e-Working and e-Learning services

ASK-IT mobility impaired (MI) dimension • The driving vision behind the project is to develop services based

on Information Communication Technologies (ICT) that will allow people with special needs (or mobility impaired people) to move independently, lead a quality life and as an immediate result achieve economic and social integration. These services include the provision of relevant and real-time information, primarily for travelling, but also for use at home, and at work. These services will be implemented in at least 8 European cities (Athens, Bucharest, Genoa, The Hague, Helsinki, Madrid, Newcastle, Nuremberg, Thessaloniki), demonstrating how ASKIT will enhance the socio-economic integration of mobility impaired people. This is aimed at achieving in the following ways: Mobility Impaired people will be able to benefit from ASK-IT services during their daily lives, in order to travel/use public transport, organise their leisure time and take part in educational, economic and social activities. Information could include assisting a disabled traveller who when s/he just arrives at the airport is directed to a bus stop and s/he’s guided how to get there and when to get off to find his/her hotel or restaurant with accessible facilities. S/he can even use the ASK-IT system to make a reservation. While visiting a town, the user with mobility impairments will be able to use his/her mobile to request information about local facilities, including whether they are accessible to him/her or not. His/her profile, stored on his/her mobile device, may include parameters such as the turning radius of his/her electric wheelchair, so that restaurants meeting these specific needs are selected. Information will be available everywhere at anytime via a mobile device (mobile phone, PDA, small gadget, wearable kit, etc.) that will be intelligent enough to address the personal needs of the user. In this respect, this device for example will present only the information appropriate to a person with visual problems, be voice enabled for people who have difficulty in physical movements, use symbols, audio support and simple text for illiterate and people with learning difficulties/cognitive impairments, and will use only a visual display with captions for people with hearing problems.

Vision of e-ISOTIS for the disabled community e-ISOTIS developed a video for the ASK-IT project, depicting in an easy and understandable manner what ASK-IT is about and what it aims at achieving, namely allowing mobility impaired people to travel independently from one country to another, making use of the latest ICT available, and all this in an accessible and affordable manner.

Profile e-ISOTIS In brief, the scope of e-ISOTIS is to support the people with disabilities and older persons to overcome the existing barriers and to experience


an Information Society Open to ImpairmentS (ISOTIS). e-ISOTIS has been established in 2003 and is a non-profit making organisation that brings together people with disabilities, their spouses as well as members of the ICT (Information Communication Technology) community from the whole globe. It cooperates closely with National Associations of people with disabilities as well as with universities, ICT companies and public authorities in many European countries. e-ISOTIS is a dynamic and evolving unit, rapidly developing and due to its highly professional, motivated, and devoted staff, its reputation is gradually growing. The greatest asset of the organisation is its human factor. More specifically, it is supported by an ambitious team of experts with its first priority, the advancement of independent living for disabled people via legal advice, education/learning, support of employability, social support and familiarisation with accessible ICT. The organisation via its umbrella association has links to more than 360.000 people with disabilities. In spite of its recent establishment, it has shown strong activity and experience in cooperation at local, regional, national and trans-national level. Moreover, associate members of e-ISOTIS are federations and social organisations that advance better quality of life for all. Such organisations are, the Flemish Federation of Disabled People in Belgium, the Union of Blind people in Italy, the Federation of Disabled people in Croatia, the Federation of Moving Impaired people in Hungary, the MTU-Milocerdie in Estonia, the Marie Curie Association in Bulgaria, the Sonokids Foundation in Netherlands, the Bethany Foundation in Romania, the Association of Paraplegic in Drama and the Pan-Hellenic Federation of People with Moving Impairments from Greece as well as the European Social Forum in Cyprus, the FENACERCI from Portugal and the Society for the disabled persons of Lithuania. Last but not least, ZIVOT 90 from the Czech Republic representing more than 10,000 senior citizens is also an associate member. e-ISOTIS has provided scientific support to the European Union’s Information Society policies through the ‘eInclusion@EU’ project, and has also provided legal expertise on anti-discrimination in Europe though the European project ‘Stimulating Public Interest Litigation at a Pan-European Level- Raising Knowledge and Imparting Skills’. Furthermore, e-ISOTIS is involved heavily in European RTD projects that deal with semantics, ambient intelligence, mobile applications, adaptive and self-configured user interfaces for disabled people mainly through the ASK-IT Integrated Project and Access e-Gov. e-ISOTIS is also involved in the analysis, design, development, testing, enhancing and dissemination of e-Learning platforms via 7 European projects, MOTRASUP, GET_CONNECTED, PEDA, EURIDICE, ALPE, DEA and EU4ALL projects, and is also involved in VET (Vocational Education and Training) and promotion projects via the Leonardo and Socrates Programmes. These projects are e.g. Validation of Mentoring, Careers without Barriers, Voca2, and 9th May  For further details, visit: ASK-IT project: Vision of e-ISOTIS (online video streaming) : news_comments.php?id=462_0_11_0_C. Associated member organisations: Associated projects : i4d | November 2006


Electronic barriers for global participation Cynthia D. Waddell Executive Director and Law, Policy and Technology Consultant, International Centre for Disability Resources on the Internet (ICDRI), USA

How did you start your activities for fair and equal treatment of people with disabilities under the law? As a person with a lifetime hearing loss who has had years of speech and lip reading lessons - I first became active in crossdisability issues while I was studying for my Juris Doctor degree at Santa Clara University School of Law. By cross-disability, I mean the entire spectrum of disability issues impacting people with visual, hearing, speech, mental and mobility disabilities. At that time the ground-breaking Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) had just been enacted by Congress. I found that it was not enough to learn about disability rights laws and how they sought to protect people with disabilities from discrimination. I wanted to know more- what was the practical application of these laws in society? What were the real public policy challenges of government and the private sector in meeting these requirements? Did people with disabilities really benefit from this effort? Did their quality of life improve? As a pragmatic person seeking practical solutions, I sought out venues to learn more and tried to put myself in the position to November 2006 |

understand the challenges.Every employment and volunteer position I have had addresses civil rights for people with disabilities. When I served as a public interest scholar at the Employment Law Center, I learned about employment issues and wrote a training manual for lawyers on how to litigate under the ADA. In my work as an ADA consultant for higher education, I learned about issues concerning the built environment, faculty access to the work environment and student access to learning. This was my training ground for eventually serving as an ADA compliance officer for local government and as an ADA Mediator for discrimination complaints filed with the U.S. Department of Justice. At one time I even held local, county, state and federal appointments — all dealing with access for people with disabilities! Those appointments provided a reservoir of information as I worked with and alongside people with disabilities. Perhaps my work in ICT became known when I wrote the first accessible web design

People with disabilities need to be part of the decision making and planning effort alongside disability experts or the entire project will fail.

standard for a local government. This work was prior to the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative and was the result of an ADA complaint filed in my office by a blind city commissioner claiming that she could not access the content of the City of San Jose website. Since San Jose was known as the capital of Silicon Valley, it was a serious issue. Her complaint led to a web design standard that was recognised by the U.S. government as a best practice and adopted by jurisdictions both here and abroad. From then on, my work intensified for barrier removal in the built environment as well as barrier removal in cyberspace and ICT. In fact, the accessible web design standard contributed to the passage of federal legislation strengthening U.S. procurement laws and requiring the procurement of ICT products and services designed to be accessible. How do you visualise their problems and how do you plan for them? In the field ICT, the best way to understand the problems is to consult the community of people with disabilities and hear what they have to say. In my paper, The Growing Digital Divide in Access for People with Disabilities: Overcoming Barriers to Participation ( CynthiaW/the_digital_divide.htm) I talk about the ICT barriers experienced by people with disabilities. This paper was commissioned by the White House through the US Department of Commerce and the National Science Foundation for the first national conference on the impact of the digital economy in 1998. First translated in Chinese, the paper went on to be published by the World Bank/IMF Summit in September 1999 and for the United Nations Economic Forum in Geneva in


June 2000. Still relevant today, the paper points to standards for the accessible design of ICT and also discusses open source and the need for accessibility to not be proprietary. Can you please share in brief the objectives and activities of your organisation (ICDRI)? Our overarching vision is the equalisation of opportunities for persons with disabilities. As an internationally recognised public policy centre organised by and for people with disabilities, ICDRI seeks to increase opportunities for people with disabilities by identifying barriers to participation in society and promoting best practices and universal design for the global community. ICDRI’s mission includes the collection of a knowledge base of quality disability resources and best practices and to provide education, outreach and training based on these core resources. ICDRI makes this information available in an accessible format through our web site at In addition, we provide Accessibility Oversight Professional Consulting Services for government and private sector clients. Our clients include U.S. and foreign governments, higher education, major corporations and the United Nations. Can you please highlight some of your major activities for the disabled people which have kept major impact on society and the people concerned? ICDRI is active in ICT standards setting activities and sponsored the free online web accessibility checker and portal, CynthiaSays™. This project was endorsed by the American Council of the Blind and is a joint education and outreach project of ICDRI, The Internet Society Disability and Special Needs Chapter, and HiSoftware. Take a look at The past several years ICDRI has served as the accessibility consultant (built environment and ICT) for the United Nations ad hoc committee that drafted the terms of the international treaty on rights of persons with disabilities. Our Accessibility consultancy projects have provided expertise for the launch of award-winning accessible government Internet portals; public policy and legislative consultancies for state and federal governments, Congress, the White House (Clinton and Bush administrations), and foreign governments; and Section 508 ICT expertise for businesses seeking to conform their products to U.S. requirements for procurement. One of our current projects impacts a 23 campus university system in the State of California. We are providing policy, procurement, implementation, education and outreach assistance for compliance with a State Statute that codified Section 508 and the accessibility of ICT. What are the specific activities of ICDRI solely for the disabled people? ICDRI enables people in every country to post best practices resources on our web site. We also facilitate meetings on public policy such as the Pacific Rim meeting in Manila, the Philippines on accessible ICT, and the annual presentations held during the Technology and Persons with Disabilities International Conference


in Los Angeles, California, sponsored by California State University Northridge (CSUN). ICDRI also employs people with disabilities for the testing of ICT products for conformance to the Section 508 U.S. Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Standards. (36 CFR Part 1194) Do you think that ICT can help the differently abled people to develop themselves? Unless society removes physical and electronic barriers to participation, people with disabilities will not be able to participate and society will not benefit from their diverse contributions. How can ICT be useful for increasing the efficiency and ability of differently able people? It is our experience that when ICT and mainstream technology conforms to accessibility standards, then we reduce the need for expensive customisation of products for people with disabilities. We have also learned that a person does not need to have a disability to benefit from accessible ICT. When it is dark, a person who cannot see will benefit from a screen reading software that reads the page out loud. When a person cannot hear because the room is noisy, captioning of video enables content to be used. When a person cannot even use a keyboard because their hands are busy, speech input enables access. Or if a person cannot use a mouse for some reason, keyboard equivalents enable access. The list goes on. Building universal design into ICT provides the greatest flexibility and interoperability for everyone. With your expertise in disability legislation and technology, which areas do you think that major works need to be initiated for more success and achievement? I believe we are at a crossroad where technology and ICT is impacting our daily life in complex ways and our choices will determine whether or not everyone will be able to participate. For example, VOIP will be a challenge as traditional telecommunications blur with the Internet. We need to keep user functionality at the forefront so that the technology adjusts to user preferences. Technology standards for accessible design and interoperability will continue to be critical factors so it is important that the international dialogue continues to move toward a common standard. Apart from the organisational activities, what other activities you are currently associated with? My current activities include assisting corporations in their ICT product design cycles for conformance with U.S. Section 508 accessible design requirements. As discussed earlier, I am also assisting a major university system in their compliance with a State statute requiring the procurement and development of ICT conforming to Section 508. This involves the development of policy, procurement, implementation plans and education and training. I am also a frequent writer and speaker at many government, university and industry forums in the U.S. and abroad. For example, this year I gave a keynote for the National Association of Secretaries i4d | November 2006

of State and provided an update on the State impact of Section 508 and my work on the accessible design of electronic voting machines. I also assisted the government of Ontario, Canada, in their planning for implementation regulations of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. And just last year, I gave a keynote at a side event of the UN World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis, Tunisia. It was entitled ‘Bridging the Divide: Accessible ICT and Persons with Disabilities’. Other international activities are discussed at cynthia_d.htm. In the publishing arena, I have just published my second book as a co-author in July 2006,’Web Accessibility: Web Standards and Regulatory Compliance’. One of my chapters contains the latest research documenting 26 countries and jurisdictions around the world that have adopted accessible web design as a policy or law. My first book, Constructing Accessible Web Sites, is still very popular. For more information, see our website at http:// What can be the ideal way of helping mentally handicapped people with the help of ICT? The ideal way to help people with mental disabilities is to address

their needs on a case by case basis. For example, people with specific learning disabilities will thrive in education if they have access to screen reading software. To provide education and professional consulting services for access to ICT for persons with disabilities in developing countries, what strategy and policy might be helpful? Poverty and lack of education and access to the technology itself, is one of the most significant barriers in developing countries. Cultural barriers are also an issue in societies where it is not commonplace to see people with disabilities at work and play and participating in every aspect of society. The ideal strategy and policy that would be helpful depends on the particular community and developing country discussed. How can the policies and strategies be more effective for the beneficiaries? No policy or strategy can be effective unless the effort is informed by the beneficiaries themselves. People with disabilities need to be part of the decision making and planning effort alongside disability experts or the entire project will fail 

e-Accessbility day: International Day of Disabled Persons, 2006 ‘E-Accessibility Day’, International day of disabled persons 2006 observes its theme that falls on 3 December. United Nations with its concerted efforts and collaborations with like minded organisations aims to raise awareness among world governments, private bodies and the public on the significant benefits of access to Information Technologies for persons with disabilities, to make them self sufficient, confident, emotionally balanced, economically productive and intellectually transparent in the society. Information and Communication Technologies have equipped to create opportunities to everyone in society, No longer do the socio cultural barriers of inaccessible formats like age, gender, languages, physical borders stand in any way to participate. Once scaled to the heights to foster every individual choice, Information and Communication Technologies, for persons with disabilities no longer remains an hindrance in playing their part to best of their potential in the society. The annual observance aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilise support for the dignity, rights November 2006 |

and well-being of persons with disabilities. It also seeks to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life. The theme of the Day is based on the goal of full and equal enjoyment of human rights and participation in society by persons with disabilities, established by the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons was adopted by the General Assembly in 1982. How the ‘day’ observed • Involve: Observance of the Day provides opportunities for participation by all interested to focus upon catalytic and innovative measures to further implement international norms and standards related to persons with disabilities. • Organise: Hold forums, public discussions and information campaigns in support of the Day focusing on disability issues and trends as • Celebrate: Plan and organise performances everywhere the contributions by persons with disabilities to the societies in which they live and exchanges and dialogues and aspirations of persons with disabilities. • Take Action: A major focus of the Day is to translate all the rolling momentum into practical action to further implement international norms and standards concerning persons with disabilities and to encourage their participation in social life and development on the basis of equality. Source:



Integrated approach for effective communication THMRC is an interface between experts of diverse field and media professionals with a prime objective to outreach general public using mass media communication systems as a tool.

Dr.K.Bhanumathi Coordinator, The Hindu Media Resource Centre M.S.Swaminathan Research Foundation, Chennai, India


Communication tools to reach masses

community newspapers, village resource centres (VRC) and online groups.

Every communication tool has its own power to reach specific target group. When the targeted audience is diversified their taste, age, status, ambiances also becomes diversified. Hence it becomes imperative to make use of various communication tools and various strategies to complete the communication cycle and achieve the multiplier effect. The article showcases a dissemination activity, which explains the role of various communication media and their effectiveness when they become complimentary to each other. On the other hand the study also highlights the importance and need for face-to-face or group discussion for reinforcement, as the impact becomes visible and sustainable.

Strategies to reach the media

The Hindu Media Resource Centre (THMRC) The M.S.Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) located in Chennai is a Non Government Organisation having a mandate, to impart pro-nature, pro-poor, pro-women orientation to a job led economic growth strategy in rural areas harnessing science and technology for environmentally sustainable and socially equitable development. MSSRF established The Hindu Media Resource Centre (THMRC) in 1998 with the generous support from The Hindu Group of Publications. THMRC is an interface between experts of diverse field and media professionals with a prime objective to outreach general public using mass media communication systems as a tool. The mass media communication systems that are networked by THMRC include radio, television, print and the web. It includes community radio (CR), satellite commercial private television network, cable network, neighbourhood journals,

To face the above issues and to create space for articles based on sustainable agriculture, THMRC consistently organises media workshops, millennium lectures, public forum and media tours in addition to production of documentary films and maintenance of website ( These strategies facilitate media professionals to have in-depth discussion with the scholars in their respective domain.

Mannin manam - radio programme As one of the programme activity, THMRC organised a media workshop ‘Radio and Sustainable Agriculture’ which addressed the radio medium to brainstorm about sustainable agriculture. The programme officers of All India Radio (AIR) of the state of Tamil Nadu, handling agriculture programme participated in the media workshop.The scholars of MSSRF enlightened the AIR officials about the issues and challenges that need to be addressed by the radio media. The outcome of the workshop was to produce half an hour programme for 53 weeks titled ‘Mannin Manam’ meaning ‘flavour of the soil’ to be broadcast in the state network of AIR. It was agreed to identify programmes, based on the needs of the target audience specifically. The basic terms that were decided to be followed for making the programme are as follows: • MSSRF shall provide content for the programme to be made by All India Radio (AIR). • The content shall be based on the needs of the target group namely the agricultural community. i4d | November 2006

• As Public information shall be the prime objective, THMRC of

• • • •

MSSRF shall coordinate, content relating to sustainable agriculture by networking with the all the resource organisations and persons such as NGOs, government departments, panchayat raj institutions, developmental activists and like-minded people as per the requirement of the programme in addition to the scientists of MSSRF. The content shall be need based, location specific and timely. Since the conceptualisation of content would be done using the bottom-up approach the community representatives shall be involved from planning to broadcast All India Radio shall take the responsibility of professional production of programme and broadcast of the same. Feedback for the programmes and immediate action in providing guidance and clarification shall be the format of production.

Findings of the research on usage of mass media It would be interesting to note and quote the author’s PhD thesis titled ‘Impact of Social Welfare Schemes on Rural Women through Mass Media programmes with Reference to Tamil Nadu’. The thesis analyses the role of mass media communication systems and the programmes, which have been broadcast / telecast / published, having the content on the social welfare schemes of Tamil Nadu government for the benefit of rural women community. The access, availability of the media, life style of the community, their media listening habits, the ambiance during listening, the understanding of the given information, the impact of the same are discussed and documented. The below mentioned are the findings relevant to the audio visual media pulled out from the overall findings, which became the basis for identifying innovative strategies to create loyal audience while making of the programme: • The rural community listens to radio programmes in the morning and watch television in the evening. On an average four hours in a day is spent by a listener/viewer in listening/viewing the media • The Audience Research Reports (2005) of AIR and Doordarshan indicate that viewership is high for the entertainment programmes in comparison to the information based. The study reveals the reasons as: a) information-oriented programmes do not sustain the interest of the audience b) the sets, costumes and the language of the interviewer and expert are alien which, in most of the cases, are not down to earth. • Impersonal way of communication reflecting no rapport between the target group and the media. • Continuous talk with out proper visuals or demonstrations • Contents not being context specific • Feed back being given in the subsequent programme, which may not be viewed by many who viewed the previous programme. • Programmes being presented as hardcore and not as infotainment • No scope for recap or reinforcement periodically. November 2006 |

Information needs assessment Based on the above findings THMRC of MSSRF and All India Radio invited Panchayat Raj leaders and Self help group leaders from the district to identify the information needs. The content crew briefed them about the 53 weeks broadcast in the state network of AIR. The methodology and approach was communicated. The members who attended the interaction session were requested to be in regular contact both with the programmers and with other listeners. On the same day a ‘Radio Club’ was established, which consisted of listeners of the programmes as members, to take forward the project and exchange ideas among themselves. The members promised to listen to the programme consistently. A production methodology was accordingly formulates as follows: • content planning: During the needs assessment meeting representatives from all the districts who has potential and interest in programme making were identified and involved in the content planning and development. The plan gave space for updating information and also for adding on to the current topical information. • Field based production: The production crew consisting of AIR and THMRC traveled far and wide to record the voices of the unheard living even in the remotest corners of the state. • Immediacy in responding: The remedial guidance and clarifications from the resource persons/ scientists were broadcast in the same episode. In addition to the bottom up participatory approach, feedback inclusion and response to the queries were also broadcast in the same episode. • Format of the programme: Much care was taken to broadcast location specific, demand driven content. Hardcore information was converted into small slogans and jingles. The thirty-minute programme had many voices and experiences of the community to sustain the interest of the programme. One self-help groups’ experience became a lesson to the other. Each success story was accommodated to function as a motivating factor for the other. • Rapport between the media and community: The information broadcast on the happenings in each of the districts was used as input for group discussions among the ‘radio club’ members, which resulted in meaningful feedback. The interesting feedbacks were incorporated in the programme for the benefit of the others. The regular correspondence among the media and the community brought out a sense of belongingness and ownership of the programme and the content without getting disturbed by private satellite television channels. On the other hand interesting promos with the details of forth coming programmes were broadcast to create new audience while retaining the regular listeners. • Inter-personal communication: To add value to the radio media programmes, other medium of communications were also used. As illiteracy and poor comprehension are the major impediments towards community empowerment, it was decided to make use of the resource persons and the knowledge workers located in the site offices of MSSRF. The knowledge workers are literate youths or semi literates interested in the welfare of the society. After the broadcast of programme, the resource persons and the knowledge


workers would lead the group discussion. Clarifications with location specific interesting information would be discussed in such a way the community understands the content very clearly. It is the researchers experience that when media programmes are followed by face- to-face or group discussion, the communication cycle becomes complete and the impact of adopting those information gained through this broadcast becomes phenomenal.

Role of ‘village knowledge centres’ The ‘village knowledge centres’ (VKC) established by MSSRF was converged with the radio media programme to great extent. MSSRF has 12 site offices in the districts of Tamil Nadu with VKCs. VKC, is a place where all the communication systems like computer, Internet, radio, wireless and public address system are available for the usage of the community. The community is trained to access and make use of the systems for information empowerment. All the site offices were requested to inform the community about the broadcast on sustainable agriculture. Other medium like posters and handouts were also synergised to remind the community about the radio programme and highlight the crux of the contents broadcast in the radio media.

• The establishment of micro enterprises and their success had motivated others to initiate eco-friendly endeavors.

• As marketing issues involved small-scale business was well • • • • • • •

A research on ‘Mannin Manam’ The programme ‘Mannin Manam’ was broadcast by the AIR, for 53 weeks (one year). After six months of broadcast, postgraduate media science students of Anna University took up a brief study for their dissertation, on the impact of this radio programme on the target audience. The audience research report of AIR, 2003, before the broadcast of ‘Mannin Manam’ illustrating the agricultural programme viewership was taken as secondary data. The researchers interviewed the members of radio club, community representatives involved from, planning to broadcast and also people who had listened a few episodes and those who did not listen at all.

The findings based on listeners • The audience who listened was well informed about the happenings and issues in their location in addition to other districts.

• The additional regular livelihood micro enterprises tips were liked by one and all.

• • •

discussed in the broadcast the communities were conscious while deciding their eco friendly projects. The communities were aware of the schemes and projects designed by the government. Explanation of Right to Act gave mental courage to demand their rights and information from the concerned. The information converted as jingles and slogans were remembered by the community The interaction and group discussion facilitated at the PRIs and at site offices helped the women to come out of shyness and gain confidence There were alternative media available for the community who had missed the opportunity to listen to the broadcast on the stipulated date and time The regular visit of the media to the interior districts gave warmth and understanding in the minds of the community Normally women used to seek information from the members of self-help group and at the panchayat offices. The feedback built in programme and the proximity of the production crew gave another avenue and source of information There were incidences to quote that the issues and complaints projected in the media, were immediately attended. The promos, the posters, or the timely announcement in the public address system could keep the listeners attentive to listen the programme with out fail. The community which has listened the programme became source of information to the others who missed or do not have access and/or affordability to the media.

Conclusion It is certain that sustained efforts using all the medium of communication in an integrated way would yield enormous effects. The prime objective of the media to inform, educate and entertain the people would also become meaningful. The participatory approach and information at the right time would certainly create audience glued to the media with out getting distracted with mere entertainment programme, which has only commercial motive. 

Wireless rural connectivity conference and hands-on workshop in Lahore P@SHA (Pakistan Software Houses Association) organised a Rural Networking conference and Hands-on Workshop on Nov 15 - 16, 2006 in Lahore in collaboration with Cisco Systems, Punjab IT Board and, Intel supported by the Ministry of Information Technology Government of Pakistan, BytesForAll and FOSSFP: Free and Open Source Software Foundation of Pakistan. This conference wasfirst of its kind in Community Wireless Networking initiative in Pakistan. With a strong list of foreign and local speakers on issues related to Information and Communication for Development (ICT4D), the conference has disseminated knowledge to a very diverse audience from all sectors of society. This conference provided an opportunity for Pakistan to learn and benefit from the experiences of such community wireless networking projects deployed at various


locations worldwide. The participants of the conference and workshop extended their appreciation in receiving first hand knowledge about wireless networking and community radio. They also expressed concern that the Government of Pakistan should extend Community Radio licenses to communities and NGO’s as has been recently legislated and allowed by neighboring country India. The event ended with an ending note by Jehan Ara that soon P@SHA and its various partners will carry out further activities throughout the country promoting such initiatives that extend various emerging technologies for the benefit of the citizens of Pakistan. Acknowledgement: Fouad Riaz Bajwa, BytesForAll Network, South Asia Source: Wireless_Rural_Connectivity_Conference.htm i4d | November 2006

November 2006

Taking ICT to Marginalized Communities Marginalized communities are generally excluded from development processes, more so in the case of ICT for Development. Paradoxically ICT can be of maximum benefit to such groups. Abhiyan’s pioneering efforts to extend the benefits of ICT to marginalized communities is helping to bridge the divide.

I sa Ibrahim is in his mid-thirties. The sun and wind have etched his features and his gaunt weatherbeaten face makes him look much older. “We have been fishermen from three generations and the sea runs in my blood,” said Ibrahim kaka (as he is locally known). He operates from Randh bandar (wharf) off the coast of Kutch. Traditionally fishing communities in Kutch migrate for eight months from their villages to the coast for fishing. They live on the beaches in temporary ramshackle huts made of jute sacks and plastic sheets. They lack even the most basic amenities like drinking water, sanitation, electricity, health and education facilities. During high tides it is impossible for the community to reach for help if there is any kind of emergency. Women and children suffer from high levels of malnutrition and the whole community is steeped in debt. The price that they get for their catch is Rs. 800 for 40 kgs. while the same sells for Rs. 4,000 in markets like Mumbai, Vijaywada and even as far away as Bangladesh. The price for their catch has remained unchanged over the last ten years while prices of inputs have gone up thus pushing them further in debt. Their social and physical exclusion is complete despite the

fact that the wharf is barely five ki- Department. Added to this is the fact lometers from the road connecting that palms have to be greased for Bhuj to Gandhidham. each licence. For this fishing season the MM kiosk at Bhadreshwar Support to Marginalized Commuhelped them get all necessary pernities mits/licences without having to go The Kutch Nav Nirman Abhiyan from place to place and without (popularly known as Abhiyan) paying any extra money. In addition works with the fishermen and other the fishermen get weather data and marginalised communities like salt other necessary information pan workers, ‘maldharis’ (cattle through the MM kiosks. herders), dryland farmers, rural artisans, etc. As part of the ICTD Abhiyan is a coalition of 28 civil so(ICT for Development) Project be- ciety organisations who came toing executed by NISG Abhiyan is gether after the 1998 cyclone. After working to bring the benefits of ICT that came the cyclone in 1999, to such marginalised communities. drought of 2000 and the devastatInformation kiosks named Mahiti ing earthquake of 2001. Immediately Mitra (MM) have been set up at stra- after the earthquake within three tegic locations. These kiosks are set days Abhiyan set up Setus (Setu up at public places like bus stands, means a bridge) to coordinate relief markets, etc and serve a cluster of and rehabilitation work in Kutch. villages. Typically one kiosk serves After the relief and rehabilitation 15-20 villages. The Mahiti Mitra phase was over the Setus moved kiosk closest to Randh bandar is in into development activities. IniBhadreshwar village. This kiosk tially 33 Setus were set up which has facilitated the fishermen to ob- were later consolidated into 18 Setus tain necessary permits like Creek covering 320 revenue villages. Each Pass, Sailing Licence, Vessel Li- Setu works with a cluster of 15-20 cence, Fish Sale licence etc. Earlier villages acting as a bridge between the fishermen would run from pil- the community and the government lar to post to obtain these. For ex- and channels all development work ample the creek pass is issued by in the cluster in a coordinated manthe Customs Department; the Boat ner. Setus also provide technical asLicence is issued by the Gujarat sistance to the panchayats. For e.g. Maritime Board while the Sailing currently under the ‘Hariyali’ Licence is issued by the Fisheries programme of the Government of

Make ICTs Work for People

Gujarat, each village is being given Rs. 30 lakh for watershed development. The panchayats in turn approached the Setus for technical assistance in planning their watershed development. Setus in collaboration with K-Link (the IT arm of Abhiyan) used GIS mapping techniques to draw up the watershed development plan. The entire watershed was mapped in terms of geological formations, dyke formations, soil structure, surface and sub-surface water flows and a watershed development plan was drawn up. This ICT intervention helped the panchayats make the best use of the funds available. Innovative Support for Rural Artisans To leverage the widespread social base and acceptance of the setus, the Mahiti Mitra kiosks were planned to be located in the same villages where the setus are located. Mahiti Mitra kendras have ready community acceptability as a result of the excellent work done by the Setus during the earthquake. The Dudhai Mahiti Mitra kendra is an information hub for the community. Set up in Aug 2005, the kiosk is popular not only with students who come for computer training, downloading exam results, etc. but also among the artisans. Dudhai MM Kiosk Adesar Shamakhiyali Kharoi Makhana Lodai Khawda Dudhai Khambara Vidi Bhimsar Narayansarovar Bhadreshwar Naliya

Location of Mahiti Mitra kendras in Kutch

Mahiti Mitra kendra serves the Dhamadka cluster with a population of 15,000. This is a cluster of 28 villages populated mainly by artisans specialising in block printing work. This kiosk hit upon an innovative idea to help the artisans. Earlier the artisans had to carry many samples of their designs to show the clients. This entailed a cost in terms of time and money. Now they scan the designs on the computer, transfer it to a CD and mail it across to a prospective client. The orders along with instructions for the colour scheme are received on phone or email. This saves the artisans a lot of time and money. The MM kiosk is the focal point for the community looking for infor-

Cluster Adesar Samakhiyali Kharoi Kodki Boladi Khari+Tuga+Dhrobana Dhamdka Khambhra Mathak Pashuda+Dhamdka Narayansarovar Bhadreswar Chhadura

Block Rapar Bhachau Bhachau Bhuj Bhuj Bhuj Anjar Anjar Anjar Anjar Lakhapat Mundra Abdasa

mation related to government schemes, agricultural inputs, guidance on legal issues, information on available loans, employment opportunities, etc. The age profile of the users ranges from 11 years to 60 years with 10 percent of the users being women. The younger users demand services like computer courses, educational material, career guidance, etc. while the older generation need information on government schemes, agricultural information, etc. Status Update Under the Mahiti Mitra project it is planned to have 18 kiosks – one in each Setu cluster. Currently 13 kiosks are operational while three more are ready for inauguration. The locations for the remaining

Population 10,951 16078 10649 4469 7335 5584 + 8846 + 8465 15097 13608 7694 12258 NA 6100 5008

Villages + Vandh 21 12 12 19 10 19 + 33 + 12 28 12 9 11 + 28 18 7 20

Note : Narayansarovar MM kendra has been opened in partnership with CARE India.


GIS mapping of village boundaries tural University interact with the community members of these clusters everyday between 1-3 p.m. A weekly programme is drawn up based on the needs of the community and experts are lined up accordingly. This service is a big hit with the villagers.

ies, Craft and Natural Resource Management Different types of application software have been developed in-house in the different sectors. They are as follows:  SIMS (Setu Information Management System)  Integrated GIS Module  The village database is also linked with GIS.  Report module that generates analytical and statistical report with a single click.

Services and Software Developed The MM kiosk is the hub through which various different services are provided to the community. The services can be grouped in the following sectors: Panchayat, Health, Education, Legal, Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, Fisher-  Yojanakiya Darshan  Details of all government schemes in regional language  Structure & Detail of Govt. Dept.  Govt. Scheme Forms  Scheme Related Information.  General Information of Kutch.

Portal for fishing community

 Mahiti-Mitra visitor records  To track profile of visitors and keep a record of visitors; services provided and revenue generated.


Make ICTs Work for People

two kiosks have been identified and site preparation and hardware procurement is in progress. They are expected to be inaugurated in the next two months. Four of the kiosks are located in panchayat premises while the rest are in commercial locations taken on rent. The connectivity is a hybrid mix of dialup, wireless and VSAT connectivity. The Khambara kiosk has wireless connectivity and while Shamkhyali, Adesar, Khawda and Bhadreshwar have VSAT connectivity, the rest have dial-up connectivity. The VSAT connectivity has been provided by ISRO under the Village Resource Centre (VRC) scheme. ISRO was pleased with the gains made under the Mahiti Mitra project and offered Abhiyan that some of these centres could be provided VSAT connectivity to enhance their usefulness. This represents a wonderful synergy between two programmes wherein the biggest beneficiary is the community. The VSAT connectivity allows two-way audio and one-way video. This enables the community to benefit from telemedicine and tele-conference service for agriculture. Experts from institutions like Wagad Welfare Hospital, Apollo Hospital, Ahmedabad, and Anand Agricul-

Make ICTs Work for People 38

 E-Kanoon  Information related to laws, rules and regulations  Information about police and judiciary setup  VYAPAR  Info Portal for Buyer and Seller  K-Link Portal  Mail Service  Employment News  Help Desk  Discussion Board  Announcement  World Fact Book  Laws  Multi-media Educational CDs  20 CDs covering various subjects in regional language A noteworthy application is the GIS software. The data of Census 2001 has been mapped onto the GIS. Abhiyan is also conducting a door-to-door survey in each cluster. This information is also being mapped to the GIS. Once land records are made available in the public domain, even these can be mapped to the GIS. This then becomes a powerful tool in the hands of the village panchayat for microplanning.

Issues and Challenges Given the socio-economic background of the area where the project is being implemented, there are some issues and challenges that the project is facing. 

Low education status

Lack of computer literacy

Small size of villages leading to less number of users

District Administration  Insufficient Computerization  Inadequate e-Goverance

Need to focus on one or two critical applications and expand reach of these.

Need for information established amongst community. However, need and use of information technology by community still to become active.

Specific strategy for encouraging women users to be developed.

The Future A sense of ownership is palpable among the panchayats of the village cluster. However there is not enough awareness among panchayats on the potential of ICT in facilitating improved gover-

nance. The community is shaping the kind of services that are needed by them in the kiosks and there is willingness to pay for the services. The project has the potential to become the hub to facilitate social change in the chosen clusters. The community has been the direct beneficiary of the excellent work done by the setus after the 2001 earthquake. The MM kiosks are riding on the setu platform and will thus benefit from the widespread social acceptance that the setus already have. But since this is a new intervention the mood of the community is cautiously optimistic. The perception of the community members about the Mahiti Mitra kendras was, “Yes, the kendra is useful for getting authentic information which is difficult to get from other sources. We have to wait and see to what extent they can be really useful to us.” The challenge ahead is for the MM kiosks to prove themselves worthy of the community’s trust. ICTD

NISG and i4d jointly hold the copyright to the articles printed in the ICTD section of the i4d magazine and website. For permission to reprint the articles please write to the Editor i4d.

Training of Talatis in progress (left), Inauguration of Kharoi Mahiti Mitra kendra (right)



Global communications meet searches for answers The first World Congress on Communication for Development (WCCD) took off in Rome with introspection deep in the minds of development professionals and communication experts, on where does communication stand in the development sector, and whether communication strategies can be given credit for successful development programmes. Probably one of the answers to the vexed question of what makes for effective communication for development came from the Bhutanese Minister of Agriculture Sangay Ngedup who said: “Effective communication for us has been listening to the people and understanding their problems. The leadership in my country has walked every single inch of the harsh terrain, sat with the people and ate food with them. Getting answers from the people of Bhutan has made for a good communications strategy.” “The government of Bhutan has come up with a measurement of Gross National Happiness and we have successfully protected our culture as well as our natural environment along with meeting our people’s needs. In a recent census we found that nearly 97 per cent of the people in the country are happy. It was only three per cent who said that they were not happy,” said the minister. People, local communities and the grassroots was the answer that came repeatedly from politicians as well as practitioners for answers to better communication, right communication and well as the mantra for successful communication strategies. The Minister for Environment and Territory of Italy Alfonso Scanio, who addressed the opening session said the WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) has caused an alarm over the depletion of natural November 2006 |

resources by industrial countries. “We plan to discuss the Kyoto protocol at a conference in Nairobi soon after this meeting. The Himalayas and the Amazonian forests face a deep threat due to climate change; therefore we have to use natural resources more carefully. So, what we definitely need is a high level of communication and effective communication to deal with such issues of concern.” The debate on the role of communication in development raged throughout the day. Executive director, Programmes at the Communication for Social Change Consortium, Alfonso Gumucio-Dagron said: “Environment has been on the global agenda for over two decades still not much has happened. On the contrary many governments have made natural devastation their national agenda. Seems the only communication that the governments listen to is from corporates and that is a communication that goes against environment.” He added that the latest buzzword is ‘participatory communication’ but again for that to be right organisations have to ensure that their policies are right, their communication strategies are correct and that they have the right staff to implement these strategies. Speaking at one of the sessions, director Millennium Campaign Salil Shetty gave an overview of the recent Stand Up Against Poverty campaign which made it to the Guinness Book of World Records for ‘being the largest single coordinated movement of people in the history of the Guiness World Record’. Shetty said: “The Millennium Campaign was started in 2002-2003 by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan when we realised that inequality was growing between countries as well as within countries. It was a

political issue that though the world has enough resources people continue to be poor. We therefore built the campaign on three things – increase awareness on MDGs, build political will and work with people to make governments accountable.” “We realised that this was not going to be an easy task. We worked with communication experts and with advertising agencies to create messages that people would understand. We used celebrities and even Nelson Mandela joined us. Now we find that aid to the developing world has increased and debt cancellation has taken place. So, do we attribute this to the massive two-year global campaign that we launched or was it a natural global political process? The jury is still out on it. The three-day meet was inaugurated by the Italian Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Patrizia Sentinelli in the presence of hundreds of development practitioners, information and communication experts and communicators from all over the world. The global meet has been organised by the World Bank, the Food and Agriculture Organisation and The Communication Initiative with the Government of Italy as the host. The WCCD is looking at how Communication for Development contributes to better development effectiveness that can impact the lives of people and communities in a positive way. It also tries to understand if communication for development can be pushed into the mainstream media, an effort that could increase the reach and the impact of development communication.  Reported by Rahul Kumar



Software for people with disability The compilation of softwares by e-Bility is an information source for inclusive technologies for disabled persons. These programmes should be wisely chosen with the help of professional technical support while installing for long term benefits. • AccessDOS A Microsoft software utility that makes it easier for users with physical disabilities to use the keyboard and mouse. It is also a useful application for people with hearing impairment, who require visual feedback rather than sounds. Features include: StickyKeys, SlowKeys, RepeatKeys, BounceKeys, MouseKeys, ToggleKey, SerialKeys, SoundSentry and TimeOut. These can be used alone or in combination to best suit a user’s needs and environment. The features can also be customised to create a personalised desktop that allows individuals to be their most productive. In addition, once the AccessDOS has been installed, an individual requiring a feature can access it without special assistance.

• Aloud4ie This product by Madoogali is a handy download that adds speech synthesis capabilities to Internet explorer. Basically, the programme reads text on web pages, so that one can surf the Internet while doing multitask on the computer. Aloud4ie works as an unobtrusive toolbar on the browser, offering basic play and pause controls. By default, Aloud4ie automatically reads every line of text on a Web page. You can also turn this option off and have the program read only the


text that you’ve highlighted. This is a far better option for listening to news articles and other similar content. • APAR-C Allows delivery of the APAR (Assessment of Phonological Awareness and Reading) from a computer using either a scan-switch (such as the Discover Switch), or conventional mouse/keyboard, or touchscreen. Also contains all the score sheets and stimulus cards. • BrailleSurf An Internet browser for users with vision impairment, which allows a simplified reading of the information available on the Web. BrailleSurf shows this information in a text form. This information can then be displayed on a braille bar, or it can be spoken out by a speech synthesiser. The text can also be presented on the screen for people with low vision, and used to provide a fast review of the accessibility level of a website for visually impaired people. •Bobby An accessibility validation tool designed to help web page authors identify and repair barriers to access by individuals with disabilities. • Click-N-Type An on-screen virtual keyboard designed for people unable to type using a standard computer keyboard. Requires mouse control, trackball or other pointing device. The software can send keystrokes to virtually any Windows application or DOS application that can run within a window. • eMacSpeek A powerful audio desktop that provides a speech interface for Linux users with a vision impairment. By seamlessly

blending all aspects of the Internet such as web surfing and messaging, Emacspeak speech enables local and remote information via a consistent and wellintegrated user interface. eLr Enhancing Internet Access The EIA system is a specialised web browser, suitable for touchscreen systems, with fully integrated Web awareness, assessment and training modules. It is designed for Internet training and access for people with disabilities and other special needs. Linux Accessibility Information about Unix and Linux Shareware and Freeware, including: visual cursor enhancers, braille and sign language utilities, optical character recognition (OCR), keyboard modifications, magnification, on-screen keyboards, voice input and output applications. Lisa COMM Communication software developed for people with limited mobility. LisaCOMM offers a switch-adapted mouse that interfaces easily with most special switches (eg foot switches, camera based switches, string switches, sip/puff switches) without needing to change the computer hardware. Features include adjustable scanning option, different voices/user modes and customisable menus. Literacy Online Mirror of Literacy online web site. This is the full (except for external links) set of files (.htm/.js/.css/.gif/.jpg) that constitute the Literacy online web site. Microsoft Accessibility Information on Microsoft’s accessibility options, including downloads and tutorials. i4d | November 2006

• MultiMail An eMail programme with many accessibility features. • MultiWeb A web browser that incorporates disability specific technology suitable for computer users with multiple disabilities. It is designed to be used without other adaptive software and includes a speech engine, text enlargement, and scanning for switch devices. • Read-e PLUS Dyslexia friendly e-Reader and speech web browser, including spell checker, pop-up suppression (to stop adverts), multi-sensory user interfact and customisation (font size, voices, language, highlight options, colours, reading speed etc). Free for home use. • Read Please A free text-to-speech reader designed to make websites and eMail more accessible to those with reading difficulties, such as dyslexia, by reading content aloud. • SayIT SayIT is an integrated suite of software available in four components: scanner, orator, mouse and speech synthesiser. The software is designed to assist anyone who is losing or who has lost the power of speech, as well as people with limited fine motor skills and muscle coordination in their fingers and hands. • SENIT Special needs educational IT resources including free software downlaods, tips, tutorials and equipment ideas. • SENSwitcher An online switch enabled application which targets Internet computer training (ICT) skills from purely experiential through cause and effect, switch building, timed activation, targeting and row scanning. This software is designed to help teach early ICT skills to people with profound and multiple learning difficulties, those who need to develop skills with assistive input devices and very young children new to computers. It is accompanied by teachers notes, assessment records, developmental skills progression models and small step checklists. • Simply Web 2000 A speech friendly, speech enabled accessible web browser with advanced features that allow easy navigation of complex pages by people with vision impairment. • Super Magnify Magnifies portions of your screen up to 15 times. With special interpolation routine to maintain detail when magnifying. • Talking desktop Talking and listening software that allows voice control of the computer. Features include voice email, voice browser and word processing activities using dictation. • Talking Keyboard Free software that ‘enlivens’ your keyboard by telling the user what key has been pressed. Using the software controls in its main window, you can attach built-in or user-defined WAV sounds to specific keyboard events. This product will helpful as a learning resource for kids and for people with vision impairments. • Text Aloud Converts any text into voice and even to MP3. TextAloud resides in your Windows tray, always ready to read text aloud from your e-mail, Web pages, and documents on your computer or portable

November 2006 |

• •

MP3 player. You can listen immediately, or save it as a WAV or MP3 file that you can listen to at your convenience. TextAloud supports additio-nal speech engines for other languages. It includes support for TXT files of unlimited size, so you can bring large e-books in as one article. It allows you to create 10 minutes of spoken audio in as little as 12 seconds. Also available, speech software options that offer personalised services, such as News Aloud, Weather Aloud, Stocks Aloud, Groups Aloud. Text-To-Speech Software This software reads text words to you with a choice of voices. The text words may be on the screen, in the clipboard, from a text file or other source. It also supports converting text to audio formats using MP3 or WAV. It uses ‘Text to Speech’ technology to synthesize natural sounding speech from ordinary text. It can also be used to create MP3 files from your email, news articles, any text you want, download to your portable MP3 player and listen to it later. Type Sign Writer Learn to speak in sign language, just type in the key you want and a picture view of that letter will be shown. Web Ferret WebFerret lets you search the web quickly and thoroughly by instantly submitting your search query to multiple search engines, and displaying all of the results in a single concise window. Results can be sorted by page name, address, source or abstract. One can also choose the search engines to query, the number of results to return, and you can enable features like duplicate removal or keyword suggestions, to help you find better results. Web Talkster This software application gives the option of having the browser ‘talk’ the text content of a web page, speak the clipboard content or the selected text. It ‘talks’ all formats of web sites except a few (about 8 percent) exotic programming formats and frame configurations. WeMedia Talking Browser The WeMedia Talking Browser becomes the actual browser through which anyone can surf the Internet. Complete with large buttons and keystroke commands for easy navigation, the browser ‘speaks’ the text you select within the browser. WordCue Provides help in reading words, links and phrases on web pages. By selecting a word or phrase which is difficult to read, a range of cues are provided directly within the Browser. Zoom This is a screen enlargement utility. It displays a floating window that shows an enlarged view of the area around the cursor.  Source: software.php


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Bytes for All... Summary of discussions for the months of September-October 2006 ‘And the winner is …… Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank for their efforts to create economic and social development from below. Lasting peace can not be achieved unless large population groups find ways in which to break out of poverty’. Yes, this years Nobel Peace Prize goes to Bangladesh. And we at Bytes For All are thrilled that grassroots level efforts in the developing world are finally acknowledged by the rest of the world. Another month of lively discussions on the BFA readers list has concluded and here’s the summary of discussions on this ever-expanding list of diverse views.

Why Johnny cant’ code Johnny is a typical child in today’s world. Faced with an onslaught of information, need to learn more and more in a short spell of time, and the need to excel no matter what. An article on how a computer now days have no provision to run the BASIC language was posted by Fredrick Noronha on the list. Read the entire article at http:// According to the article computer technology giants like Microsoft, Apple and MIT Media Lab are bent on providing information consumption devices, not tools that teach creative thinking and technological mastery. Young programmers are now fed continuously on a diet of GUI and drag and drop based tools to design software. Gone are the days when it was possible to dirty your hands with line-by-line coding so that you actually learn and appreciate how the guts of your computer work. In short Microsoft and co. are perpetrating high-end rapid development tools, while systematically exterminating coding languages like BASIC, PASCAL, C etc. One of our readers, Larry Press opined that as languages like BASIC and PASCAL outgrew their roles as just teaching languages and came to be used for real time applications they grew in complexity. Making them difficult to learn. He wondered whether a renewed effort at creating a new GUI based language on the lines of BASIC was required to create interest in coding. Vickram, agreed with Larry that a new teaching language was required. He added that in our excitement to create visually appealing applications, we have been forgetting that, as newer paradigms like SIMPUTER and other hand held devices come on the computing horizon, resource hungry GUI application are likely to become redundant. What we need is cheaper technology for all kinds of people including those with functional illiteracy (visual disabilities, learning difficulties, reading/ writing difficulties for both neurological and linguistic reasons).


And what is better than a simple coding language. Munir Husan argued whether it was necessary to hook every one to programming at such a young age. There are other things our kids need to learn besides programming. Like how to use the Internet in a good way. Learn programming if you have the aptitude for it. Geeks will learn it anyway! Another reader Morshed opined that in the earlier days one had to write lines and lines of code in COBOL to get a decent statistical analysis. Today you can do it in the twinkling of an eye with packages like Excel. According to Morshed programming should be left to computer science professionals and the rest of us use intelligent applications to solve problems. Johnny need not code. Karl Brown deferred with Morshed, saying that the world’s need for programmers, is only going to increase not shrink in the years to come, because applications of tomorrow are going to be very complex. Broadband, wireless and everywhere-on connectivity are not going to programme themselves! Development tools are becoming high end. No one uses assembly language anymore. But that does not mean, you need not know how to program! You can compile beautiful spreadsheets and pour your heart out on a blog. But who is going to write the next version of Excel and code the blog? For lovers of BASIC, Karl provided a link from where you can download a free version (run able on Windows XP even!) http:// Kragen Javier Sitaker, too seemed to disagree with Morshed. Intelligent applications like Excel have their bugs. So what saves the day for you: good old programming! Learning to programme conditions you to think logically and abstractly about your programme and that is an important skill. According to Edward Cherlin: BASIC is not a very good language to learn programming, since the programming model in BASIC does not teach you how computers work. He says the best languages to learn programming, are FORTH, APL and LISP. By virtue of being purely mathematical they allow you to go as close as possible to the core of the computer. Larry argued that if that was the criteria, isn’t Assembly Language the one that takes you closest to the bowels of the computer. So we are back to square one! Larry stressed that in order to learn the ‘math of computing’ the need for a simple language still stands. Satish Jha found it hard to fathom everyone’s fetish for coding. In the hierarchy of designing, analysing, coding, testing, managing, selling each one has his/her own role and place. In Satish’s words Johnny does not make his own chair, table, train, airplane, road. Why must he code? Larry countered saying that the goal was not to turn Johnny into a professional programmer, but to introduce the concepts of algorithmic thinking to him. When we teach physics and biology in schools we don’t i4d | November 2006

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Bytes for All... expect our children to become physicists and biologists. Lisa Thruston disagreed with Edward saying that LISP was a difficult language to learn for an 8 year old kid. BASIC still stands. Gihan Dias, felt that the point is not which programming language is used. But what kids ‘do’ learn and ‘how’ they learn using computers. Having fun with PowerPoint is as effective as writing code in BASIC. ‘To be or not to be (a programmer!) that is the question’.

What to do if your computer is infected Pubudu Wickramarachchi, Debug Computer Peripherals Sri Lanka, posted an interesting article on the above topic. You can know if your computer is infected if: • Unexpected messages or images are suddenly displayed on your screen

• • • •

Unusual sounds or music played at random Your CD-ROM drive mysteriously opens and closes Programmes suddenly start on your computer You receive notification from your firewall that some applications have attempted to connect to the Internet, although you did not initiate this.

• Infection via e-Mail can be if people complain of receiving lots of e-Mail from your address when you have never sent it.

• Your mailbox contains e-Mails without a senders address. • Other symptoms can be: your computer freezes frequently or encounters errors

• • • •

Your computer slows down when programmes are started. The operating system is unable to load. Files and folders have been deleted or their content has changed. Your hard drive is accessed too often (the light on your main unit flashes rapidly)

• Applications freeze or function erratically. For e.g. you cannot close the application window. Some of the symptoms above may indicate hardware or software problems. If you suspect virus here’s what you do:

Electricity and computing Partha of Bytes For All had the following poser for all readers: Some time back there was acute power shortage in Dhaka city of Bangladesh. Since computers depend heavily on electricity, have we thought about alternative power sources to run our computers especially in areas where electricity is a luxury? Many readers replied with case studies, views and innovative suggestions. Subbiah Arunachalam, suggested solar power. Countries close to the equator can exploit this natural resource to the fullest extent. Another option: wind power. And how about manual power! Pedaling a bicycle like device to charge a battery, can power a computer for 40 minutes. Arun also cautioned that conventional electricity was as of now was the cheapest option. Not as far as impact on the environment I guess. Hakikur Rehman suggested pumps driven by ground water circulation. Ananya Guha of IGNOU suggested solar panels. Gaurav Chakraverty of TERI (The Energy and Resources Institute) said that his organisation was trying pilot projects on Solar and Bio Gasifiers. The idea was to look at the demand estimate and then design custom panels leading to optimisation of the power output. The actual power requirement of the equipment could be reduced with tweaking of the design. Gaurav also suggested every community ideally needs to produce its own power and not depend on the government run power grid. Surplus power can always be supplied to the grid. This is where bio gasifers come in. Monjur Mahmud suggested a simple thing like a car battery. At least that’s what they use in Bangladeshi villages to power their TV’s. O.P. Goel suggested taping running river water from the hillsides to power small locally made turbines. These light up, up to 100 houses and even power a flourmill. This experiment has been going on in Himachal Pradesh, India. Nice to know, that our readers are thinking out of the box. For more read our readers list 

• First of all don’t panic! It will avoid you unnecessary stress and loss of important data.

• Disconnect from LAN/Internet immediately as most viruses come from there.

• Keep your Anti Virus software up-to-date with patches (do this on an uninfected computer available to you).

• Run a full system scan. A good anti-virus programme should be able to make your system as good as new. Read the entire post :

Bytes for All: Bytes For All Readers Discussion: bytesforall_readers Bytes for All Summary Archive: Bytes for All discussion summary compiled by: Archana P. Nagvekar, Bytes for All, India

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Books received Inclusive Design Guidelines for HCI Published by: Taylor & Francis Edited by: Julio Abascal and Collette Nicolle ISBN: 0748409483 Pages: 285 The good practices in medical and health care systems has brought down the mortality rate and, demographically the population of elderly people is on increase. Problem concerned with disabilities also tend to increase with the age. Professionals in the field of human-computer interaction (HCI) are also becoming alarmingly aware of the needs of the aged and old peolpe coupled with disabilities. The book provides valuable advice for human-computer interaction (HCI) practitioners and present a range of inclusive design guidelines that exist for HCI. It is divided into six parts, with the first part serving as an introduction to the issues and the last part a comment on the future. Part two pertains to general issues on the design process and, simultaneously exploring the processes that can influence the support and use of guidelines. It explains on accessibility and usability requirements for ICTs for disabled and elderly people with a functional approach. The third part recognises the validity of design guidelines for what might be referred to as generic HCI. Part four includes a series of existing guidelines as well as guidelines for specific application areas. Part five offers five chapters related to specific application areas. Good design and accessibility for various telecommunications devices and services is covered. Finally, general design guidelines are applied to the specific context of computer-based instruction and learning materials towards ensuring that people with disabilities obtain maximum benefit.

On the Special Needs of Blind and Low Vision Seniors Published by:IOS Press Author(s): Hans-Eugen (EDT) Schulze, Hans-Werner Wahl ISBN:158603152X Pages: 351 The book gives an emphatic account of the condition of being blind and how disability can be coped up even in later stages in life. The book encourages the practioners and hopes to set new parameters in research in the field of eye diseases to psycho-social and educational issues on the planes of social and behavioural level. The book is conveniently arranged into seven parts. Basic Positions, in the part I of the book Barbara Silverstone from the U.S. and John Cook from Australia reflects their view on what it does mean to suffer from visual impairment in the later years and how to brave the


situation with new innings with the aid of available systems and medical care. In part II, Epidemiology and Medical-ophthalmological Research, emphasis is laid on the epidemiology of age-related vision degeneration and research concerned with agening factors. Part III, Psychosocial Issues and Daily Living Skills in Different Settings Empirical and Conceptual Contributions makes an analysis of entire gamut of day-to-day routine challenges and the strenuous coping up efforts put by of those who are suffering from loss of vision. Part IV, Intervention and Rehabilitation - Empirical and Conceptual Contributions gives suggestions on best practices of existing rehabilitation and intervention techniques to cater the needs to visually impaired elders. Part V, Educational Issues - Programs, Media, Selfhelp and New Technologies explores the potential of a diversity of conventional and novel means and methods toward supporting the educational processes. Part VI, Learning from Each Other in an International Perspective stresses the necessity of sharing the best working models at a broader level. Finally, part VII, Look into the Future, offers a three-fold view of what is lying ahead in the field, in terms of the future of the science and technology to be at service of ophthalmology.

Understanding Disability Published by : Praeger/Greenwood Author(s): Paul T. Jaeger, Cynthia Ann Bowman ISBN: 0275982262 Pages: 165 Addressing the crucial social issue of disability the book is comprenshively written to develop awareness among readers and on the social-roles of disability. The informative work makes an anaylitical study into various social factors like classifications of disability; social reactions to disability; legal rights and classifications of persons with disabilities; issues of accessibility to Information and Communication Technologies, representations of disability in a range of media, including literature, painting, film, television and advertising, and major issues shaping the contemporary social roles of persons with disabilities. The book reveals a true picture of the social place, limitations, and rights of persons with disabilities. Scholars tend to discuss it in the abstract form, medical personnel view it as a health issue, and legal looks at disabled problem as on how to advocate or protect organisations against the demands for accommodation. As a result, disabled individuals are seen as bits and pieces of everyone’s domain except of their own. The writers of this book, having long personal experiences with disabilities, offer a holistic understanding of the lives of disabled individuals from representations in the media to issues of civil rights. It well serves as a course material in disability studies at introductory level besides keeping the academic interest with its focus on interdisciplinarity.  i4d | November 2006


ICT services for disabled persons at a click Information and Communications Technologies have come up with a sprout of assistive technologies to overcome the limitations of physically challenged. These are the names and website links of some benign organisations, forums and mediums striving towards an inclusive system for disabled people. Websites

Organisations Enable Mart Technology for Everyone

American Foundation for Blind(AFB)

Kurzweil EducationalSystems

Auto Adapt

Ability Hub

Ability Technology


Alpha Smart Inc.

Atari Magazines

Computer Literate Advocates for Multiple Sclerosis (CLAMS)

Codi- Computers for disabled


DJ Tech

Dolphin Computer Access LLC

DREAMMS for Kids, Inc.

Easy Talk Computers

Eye Tech digital System

FFaDD Charitable Fund

Friends of Disabled Adults and Children (FODAC)


Infogrip, Inc.

Lasa Knowledge Base

Moss Resources Net

National Cristina Foundation

Origin Instruments Corporation

Synapse Adaptive


U Can Do I.T.

Zygo Industries

Source :


i4d i4d| |November November 2006

d d A ON


The first and only medium to reach top Government policy makers, implementers and industry leaders in Asia and Middle East egov is the only monthly print magazine on e-Government for Asia and Middle-East. It is an effort to cover public sector/industry requirements in planning and implementing e-Government initiatives and provide a holistic view of the developments and issues in the sector. The portal ( is engaging readers with the content of its magazine available for free and full access. It provides daily e-Government news, case studies and promotes academic and anecdotal discussion on wide-ranging issues pertaining to the use of information technologies for governance - a platform for user groups, researchers, implementers, NGOs, policy makers and administrators (from the government and the private sector). Frequency: Monthly Print run = 15,000 Readership: 95,000 monthly hits: 6,58,512

Readership Profile A Government departments/ ministries B IT industry, Telecom Industries, Finance, PSUs and Banking sector C International agencies SDC, UNDP, ADB, IFC, World Bank etc. D Corporate foundations/NGOs/CSOs E Educational institutes, R&D organisations

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The first and only medium to reach leading think-tanks, policy makers, practitioners and industry leaders of ICT4D across the world i4d print magazine is one of its kinds, and is intended to provide much needed platform for exchange of information, ideas, opinion, and experiences both inside and outside the Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) sector. While several electronic publications do currently exist, i4d is, perhaps, the first that addresses the need by utilising the strength and potential of print media. Frequency: Monthly Print run = 15,000 Readership: 1,10,000 monthly hits: 6,27,119

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ICT for disabled : November 2006 Issue  

i4d encompasses the role and relevance of ICT in various development sectors such as Rural Development, Gender, Governance, Micro-finance, E...

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