Is AIN's Commitment to Inclusion Reflected in Its Digital Accessibility?

Author: Jalasa Sapkota - Contact: Contact Details
Published: 2024/02/05 - Updated: 2024/02/20
Publication Type: Opinion Piece / Editorial - Peer-Reviewed: N/A
Contents: Summary - Main - Related Publications

Synopsis: Article explores the extent to which AIN's initiatives align with its stated commitment to people-centric development and inclusivity. The Association of International NGOs (AIN), a pivotal player in Nepal's development sector since its establishment in 1996, has been instrumental in spearheading people-centric development programs across diverse regions. By scrutinizing AIN's efforts in fostering digital accessibility for individuals with disabilities, the article aims to stimulate a constructive dialogue on the need for comprehensive inclusion in the development sector.

Main Digest

The Association of International NGOs (AIN), established in 1996, plays a pivotal role in Nepal's development sector, boasting a network engaged in people-centric development programs across diverse regions. However, a critical question looms large over the organization's commitment to its motto of people-centric development: is disability-inclusive development embedded in its agenda?

As an umbrella organization, AIN asserts its commitment to directing and ensuring guidelines for inclusion. Yet, a deeper examination raises concerns about the accessibility and inclusion of persons with disabilities, especially when the very foundation-the AIN website-is not user-friendly for individuals with disabilities.

The larger issue at hand questions whose concerns receive priority within AIN's equality and access standards. Is there a clear vision for the inclusion of persons with disabilities within these standards? While the presence of a Disability Working Group within AIN's structure is commendable, the effectiveness and accessibility of the Disability Inclusion Technical Specialist demand scrutiny. Is this group genuinely effecting change for disability inclusion, or is it merely a marginalized entity within the AIN structure?

Contemplation alone proves insufficient in an era demanding evidence-based advocacy. Prayatna Nepal, an organization dedicated to empowerment, accessibility, and inclusivity for individuals with visual disabilities, conducted a revealing study in April 2022. The study assessed the accessibility of commonly used websites and mobile applications in Nepal, exposing significant shortcomings in the AIN website.

The study highlighted numerous issues plaguing AIN's website accessibility. Firstly, the lack of a mechanism to bypass repetitive content poses challenges for keyboard-dependent users. Navigation difficulties emerge as multiple ways to locate pages are absent. The illogical order of headings and sub-headings creates hurdles for screen-reader users. Landmarks are not systematically provided, further complicating content location. Additionally, inadequate color contrast ratios hinder those with low vision and colorblindness, while a lack of pause/stop mechanisms in moving content affects users with various disabilities.

Moreover, discernible text is lacking in crucial links, and unlabeled buttons confuse screen-reader users. Inappropriate error suggestions and the absence of status announcements after form submissions add to the user confusion.

The Path Forward

To direct the path toward practical inclusivity, the Association of International NGOs (AIN) must embark on a holistic overhaul of its internal mechanisms and practices. Instead of viewing accessibility as a mere compliance measure, AIN can proactively engage in a co-creation process with individuals from the disability community. Establishing a collaborative task force, comprising both AIN staff and individuals with diverse disabilities, could bring fresh perspectives and firsthand insights into the challenges faced. This approach not only ensures representation but also encourages a culture of empathy and understanding within the organization.

AIN should consider organizing accessibility hackathons or workshops, inviting experts and advocates to actively participate in identifying and resolving issues within its digital platforms. This hands-on approach can lead to innovative solutions and promote a sense of shared responsibility for creating an inclusive environment. Furthermore, AIN should invest in continuous training for its staff to enhance awareness and advance competence in disability inclusion, advancing workplace culture.

The evidence is clear, AIN's own website fails to meet basic accessibility standards. This prompts a fundamental question: How can an organization championing inclusion externally be a harbinger of change when its internal mechanisms fall short? For AIN to truly lead in people-centric development, a thorough introspection and revamping of its inclusive practices are imperative. The time for rhetoric is over; action towards genuine inclusivity is the need of the hour.

About the Author

Jalasa Sapkota is a writer, researcher and disability rights activist. Explore Jalasa's complete biography for comprehensive insights into her background, expertise, and accomplishments.

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Cite This Page (APA): Jalasa Sapkota. (2024, February 5). Is AIN's Commitment to Inclusion Reflected in Its Digital Accessibility?. Disabled World. Retrieved February 21, 2024 from www.disabled-world.com/editorials/ain-accessibility.php

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