Monday, January 22, 2018

Inclusive-STEM Hackathon at triple IT, Bangalore

I attended Inclusive-Stem (I-Stem) hackathon. We developed a Detect Eye Android app in around 24hours, listened to panel discussions & a ton of interaction with other participants.

Being interested in education this was an opportunity for me which I didn't want to miss. Yes, it was my best days!  I really appreciate the volunteers who have contributed to this without expecting any returns! Definitely, the industry needs some sensitization in this area!

Below are few of my key learnings:
1. Everyone who needs assistance uses JAWS or NVDA screen reader on computers & TalkBack on mobile. Try this once while searching for an API, reading SMS, calling someone & installing an app to realize the importance of making an App accessible. It really makes them successful in whatever they are trying to achieve.

2. Visual representations (like PowerPoint slides) are not useful & if we’re making one ensure that we follow the accessibility guidelines to enable readers.

3. Any policy decisions should consider accessibility. An example was demonetization, most of the popular apps weren’t accessibility-ready. Banking portal wasn’t accessibility-ready. Banking statements in PDF isn’t accessibility-ready which is needed for tax filing & it isn’t great to ask for help from a colleague regarding salary statements.

4. 26-million in India has disclosed has some sort of impairment as per census. “Disclosed” is important as not everyone is ready to disclose.

5. Impairment vs disability difference is important. Disability comes into to picture because of the society & factors outside.

6. Equal isn’t always equal. A test which is for 60mins for non-impaired folks needs at least 90mins but most systems aren’t considering this. So while building an evaluation (like an interview) ensure that equal opportunity by considering the state of a person is given. Esp. in an interview – the interviewer needs to learn to modulate a lot & un-learn to get rid of years of baseline built on judging candidates.

7. There are tons of invisible disabilities, so don’t assume always interact & help.

8. Making it accessible by following a checklist shouldn’t be the goal for any product. It should be looked at as making it usable for those who need accessibility assistance.

9. Disability is a tool to expand our ability to think beyond our horizon. Some of the skills & persistence folks have is commendable.

10. Ensure that you interact with people in the way you would have interacted over the phone which is talking without understanding any social/physical characteristics.

11. The industry is moving towards accommodation rather than quota or reservation. There isn’t any single solution but every company is trying things differently.

12. The space for collaboration is very important to have diverse participants interact. Even the tables, chairs, the orientation, plug-points etc. When we say inclusive – we should have tools & infra ready!

No one among us will be able to understand the “real” need by following checklists or guidance & it is complex – things become a lot more easy to develop empathy (not sympathy) when we interact with the end user!

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1 comment:

Girish Aduvalli said...

Good Anoob. You have captured it well.