“It is challenging for persons with visual impairment to access information when they need it. Creating accessible information documents is not too complicated but it requires some time to learn specific technical skills. I believe it is worth the effort because accessible information not only benefits persons with visual impairment, but it will also be useful for everyone to access ”- Aikeo Koomanivong, Director of Disability Service Center (DSC) in Laos.

This month, we are celebrating #GlobalAccessibilityAwarenessDay to support achieving the goal that people with disabilities can access web-based services, content and other digital products. Over one billion people across the globe have a disability and, in this ever-growing digital world, internet spaces and digital resources open up so many possibilities for connecting, learning and working with others. But persons with disabilities, especially those with difficulties in seeing and hearing, often are not able to move about easily, understand what’s going on, and feel included in online settings.

Digital media is a key platform to access information on Covid19 during the pandemic, and USAID Okard have supported the Ministry of Health to broadcast daily conferences with sign language interpretation from the Hands of Hope Center so crucial Covid-19 information on current infections, protective measures and vaccine roll-out can be understood and accessed by all.

USAID Okard has been working with the Disability Service Center (DSC) to learn about accessibility features and how to make digital documents accessible for all people. Aikeo Koomanivong shared his experiences of accessing information when blind, and helped design training materials so digital documents can be created so they are compatible with a screen reader that reads the content to the person. DCS have also supported producing USAID Okard documents in braille. Project staff are now learning how to use accessibility features Microsoft office and other platforms so all digital documents meet accessibility guidelines.

USAID Okard, funded by USAID and implemented by World Education improves access to quality healthcare and economic opportunities for persons with disabilities, and supports design and implementation of disabilities inclusive policies.

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