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‘Ensure ICT products can be used by disabled’

by Zoee Hillson. Posted on October 13, 2011, Thursday

ACCESSIBLE TO ALL: Fatimah watches over visually challenged Wilson Entaya from Simunjan while he goes online with the assistance of screen reader commands and navigations. With Fatimah are (from left) Kulasegaran and Dr Hsiung.

KUCHING: Technology service providers must not forget about their disabled users when creating their products.

Minister of Welfare, Women and Family Development Datuk Fatimah Abdullah yesterday challenged those in the industry to create products that are user-friendly to both the able and disabled.

“We must remember that it is not people’s ‘disability’ that makes it impossible for them to use certain technologies.

“It is the fact that whoever created the products and services did not take into account the notion that people are individuals with differing abilities and preferences,” she said in her keynote address at the launching of a web accessibility seminar.

Fatimah said it is vital that those who design, build, sell and use online information services or products must understand the impacts on disabled and older people.

She stated that the Malaysian Disability Act 2008 has made it mandatory for the government and providers of information and communication technology to make their systems accessible to the disabled without any additional costs.

“Our focus here is website accessibility. The federal and state governments have made web accessibility as one of the mandatory criteria in government portals and websites,” she added.

According to her, the state government has a web template that complies with the web accessibility requirements to benefit a wider range of citizens.

The three-day seminar is held to highlight the importance of making websites accessible to people with visual disabilities.

It is organised by the state government, Sarawak Society for the Blind, Sarawak Information Systems Sdn Bhd (Sains) and National Council for the Blind Malaysia (NCBM).

“My message to all those who have registered for the workshop, learn as much as possible and develop your websites, services or products that are usable by all.

“I hope the organisers, especially Sains being the ICT total solution provider of the state government, can work closely with my ministry to promote web accessibility at national and international levels in the future,” she said.

Also present at the seminar were NCBM president Datuk S. Kulasegaran, Sains CEO Datuk Teo Tien Hiong, Sarawak Society for the Blind president Dr Hsiung Kwo Yen and Chief Minister’s Department ICT Unit director William Patrick Nyigor.

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