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Microsoft, FICCI launch whitepaper on inclusive growth 

Big News Network , Mar 9, 2021

Microsoft in collaboration with industry body FICCI on Monday released a whitepaper underscoring the potential of technology in accelerating inclusive growth for India with a focus on enhancing accessibility for persons with disabilities (PwDs).

The paper titled 'Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities through Information and Communication Technology (ICT)' with knowledge support from social enterprise DEOC outlines the role of technologies like artificial intelligence in creating societies and economies that allow full and equal participation of all citizens.

Especially in a post-pandemic world, technology has served as a great enabler and equaliser for persons with disabilities, creating greater possibility of an inclusive workforce.

Some of the key recommendations of the whitepaper include standards for public procurement for persons with disabilities, setting up an accessibility commission board, accessibility of product and services, online education and digital literacy.

It underscores the need for representation of PwDs in the workforce and consolidated efforts towards data collection for PwDs.

In its recommendations, the paper also outlines the need for creating an ecosystem for assistive technology, a universal design institute and the formation of a sub-group on accessibility of ICT by the FICCI Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion.

Keshav Dhakad, Group Head and General Counsel, Microsoft India, said accessibility is not just a responsibility but also an opportunity.

"When a culture of disability inclusion that powers accessibility is coupled with technology, it leads to breakthrough innovations. Investing in AI and other emerging technologies can improve the way persons with disabilities interact with and leverage technology in their daily lives -- how they access education, new skills or employment opportunities," he said.

Anna Roy, Senior Advisor at NITI Aayog, said the narrative should be about how technology could help us in achieving our goal of inclusivity. "Inclusivity is so important, and it is the Prime Minister's key agenda too. In the area of frontier technologies, AI is important. This report is a timely initiative."