Making Education Accessible for All: Vashkar Bhattacharjee’s Story

We recently shared the first part of Vashkar Bhattacharjee’s story. Vashkar is the National Consultant, Accessibility, A2i, Prime Minister’s Office of Bangladesh, and the Program Manager, Young Power in Social Action (YPSA). Here is Part Two.

Setting up an accessible digital talking book system (DAISY) in Bangladesh

After training in Japan, I was armed with knowledge in leadership and technology and wanted to create digital access for people with disabilities in Bangladesh. I wanted to prove that people with disabilities like me can work in our job market, but nobody wanted to believe me. With Young People in Social Action (YPSA), a social development organization in my home district of Chittagong, I worked as a volunteer on creating computerized braille production, which allows for printing to be in done in Braille, thus creating the tools for education for people with visual impairment. Very soon, we obtained funding to establish a digital lab, called ICT and Resource Center on Disability (IRCD), to develop assistive technologies and content for persons with disabilities.

In 2005, I was introduced to the Digital Accessible Information System (DAISY) Consortium, where I received inspiration from international experts to work harder and smarter, and make better use of available technologies. I received support to become an International Trainer on the use of ICT-based assistive technologies for persons with disabilities.

Once I returned from the training program, I introduced DAISY’s international standard for accessible publishing in Bangladesh. Since then, with support from a2i program’s Service Innovation Fund, YPSA has converted all the text books for class 1 to class 10 into multimedia digital talking books through engaging persons with disabilities themselves. From this format, the books can be converted further into accessible eBooks and digital braille books and these can be made available to students with a print disability or a learning disability. The project received technical support from the DAISY Consortium, Accessible Books Consortium and WIPO. For its contribution to making education accessible for all, including those with a learning disability, this innovative initiative has received 4 international accolades including the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) Prize 2017 from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

It was on my journey in 2014 to receive the ISIF Award for Multimedia Talking Book that I was introduced to APNIC. At the APNIC 42 conference, I received recognition from the Internet community. They admired the resilience and talent shown by a person with a disability in producing innovative applications.

Vashkar Bhattacharjee will be attending the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) later this month as an IGF Ambassador, where this year’s theme is Shape Your Digital Future. He welcomes other attendees to reach out to him to learn more about his work.

In the meantime, you can read the W3C Introduction to Web Accessibilityand learn about the DAISY Consortium and the Dynamic Coalition on Access and Disability, two organizations working to ensure equal access to information and knowledge.

The Internet Society strives towards a future where “The Internet is for Everyone”. Visit the Accessibility Toolkit page to learn how every person in the Internet community can contribute to a more accessible Internet.

Learn how you, too, can help shape tomorrow!

Photo: Vashkar Bhattacharjee holding the Accessible Books Consortium International Excellence Award with Ms. Anne Leer, then WIPO Deputy Director General. Photo credit: London Book Fair.

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Vodafone’s Global IoT Technology Makes Mobile Diabetes Management Accessible for Smart Meter’s iGlucose Platform

Vodafone's Global IoT Technology Makes Mobile Diabetes Management Accessible for Smart Meter's iGlucose Platform

Vodafone helps Smart Meter, LLC. provide a new level of accessibility to people with diabetes and their caregivers.

Vodafone today announced that it is working with Smart Meter LLC., a mobile health (mHealth) services provider for diabetes management, to bring reliable and efficient accessibility to its customers around the world.

Smart Meter’s iGlucose platform will benefit from Vodafone’s global Internet of Things (IoT) network to address customer demand in more than 160 countries.

The iGlucose blood glucose meter wirelessly sends blood glucose readings and other information to a personal web portal via Vodafone’s global IoT network. In the web portal, the person with diabetes and their designated Circle of Care can access customized trend reports and digital logbooks that are automatically updated every time the person with diabetes tests.

The number of people impacted by diabetes continues to rise. According to the International Diabetes Foundation, the total number of people with diabetes is projected to rise from 415 million in 2015 to 642 million in 2040. Many published studies have proven the impact of mHealth solutions on lowering the glycated hemoglobin (HbA1C) of people with diabetes. However, many of these existing options are not affordable or easy to use. Smart Meter’s iGlucose® platform which aims to improve the management of diabetes lacking in the current mHealth marketplace, has recently received FDA clearance and it’s CE Mark.

“Managing diabetes is a 24-hour, 7-day-a-week job, and often requires the support of a Circle of Care consisting of healthcare providers, payers and loved ones,” said Smart Meter CEO Cliff McIntosh.

“The reliable and instantaneous two-way communication we can provide through an affordable platform is a real game-changer for people that are managing diabetes – they know they always have the support of others when needed.”

“Vodafone listened to our needs, provided a customized solution to fit our requirements, and offered the expertise and ability to give us seamless global accessibility, all making our decision to partner with Vodafone an easy one.”

The iGlucose platform provides personalized accessibility between people with diabetes and their Circle of Care by automatically sending glucose readings via text message or email to family members or other designees. Supportive messages, tips and reminders of when to test are also part of the service. Anyone in the Circle of Care can send customized messages back to individuals to address an immediate issue or offer encouragement.

Vodafone Group’s Director of IoT Ivo Rook said:
“Connected technologies are transforming healthcare, from providing better care to improving research and development. One area that I believe is ideally placed to benefit from this kind of technology is helping patients to fully commit to their treatment plans.”

With iGlucose’s population management, healthcare providers can access patient data in real time via a web portal. Digital triage can be performed to see which patients are low, out of control or not testing. Focus can be given to the patients needing the most attention first. Text and e-mail encouragement can be given to those improving their bG testing trends. Multiple studies have shown that when the number of these touch points between the caregiver and the person with diabetes are increased, therapy compliance and drug adherence improve. In addition, the iGlucose meter meets ISO 2013 standards and data collected can be used for Medicare Part B audits, lowering the time needed for payers to collect the data and reduce their overall costs.

Vodafone’s global network and the Vodafone Global IoT SIM means Smart Meter can provide these services around the world with confidence without being distracted with the task of country-by-country IT integration.

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Accessible Olli: Creating freedom in transport

Self-driving shuttle bus Olli has become something of a celebrity in the Automotive world. He’s made public appearances at World of Watson and CES 2017, and is already hard at work on the streets of National Harbor Maryland and Berlin. Now, Olli has become the centre of a new challenge: the #AccessibleOlli project – a crowdsourced effort to create the world’s most accessible mode of transport for those with disabilities or impaired mobility.

Accessible Olli - cognitive vehicle

Accessible Olli – cognitive vehicle

AccessibleOlli: a much-needed project

While urban mobility is a huge market – it’s worth an estimated $ 1.5T and serves four billion people – existing public transport options don’t serve the elderly or disabled well enough. In the US, over 560,000 people with disabilities never leave home due to transportation difficulties. You’ve only to see how few stations have step-free access to begin to appreciate the problem.

But what if there were a solution? What if Olli, the self-driving shuttle bus, could be adapted to serve people of all abilities, and give unprecedented independence and freedom to those who need it? This is the challenge that #AccessibleOlli will tackle.

The video below explores how cognitive and IoT technologies can make a difference to those with impaired mobility:

Workshops and hackathons

In January, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) Foundation announced that it was joining IBM and Local Motors to help create the world’s most accessible, self-driving vehicle. The goal was to link the elderly and people with disabilities with technologies that could enhance their lives.

Now, IBM is reaching out to innovators all over the world to take part in the #AccessibleOlli design challenge – a nine-city global hackathon series culminating in the #AccessibleOlli exhibition at CES 2018. We will leverage innovations and ideas from people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities – including universities, students from Carver Vocational-Technical High, Girls Who Code and the AARP.

Get involved

Hop on the Amazing & Accessible bus and join CTA FoundationAARPMITPTECH schoolsASULocal MotorsIBM Accessibility, Watson IoT AutoLAB, Ultrahaptics and what3words. Everyone is welcome to get involved and share their thoughts on how to instrument a vehicle to be more accessible to people with all abilities. Use #AccessibleOlli to join the conversation on Twitter.

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