The Federation of Information Technology Industry Sri Lanka (FITIS), organized the Sri Lanka Internet Day 2021. The conference was conducted virtually under the theme ” Digital Inclusion”. Ms #Manique Gunaratne was a speaker at this conference to speak on “Digital Inclusion for Persons with #Disability” in April 2021. Societies all over the world are increasingly reliant on technology for their home, work and social lives. This has increased in the last year, given the need for social distancing.
Internet-enabled digital technologies have the potential to democratize access and allow market innovators to disrupt and find better ways to serve more people. While the gains of technology are manifold, this increasing reliance on technology has a dark side – the fault lines are drawn around access. The biggest beneficiaries of technology are therefore those who already have prior levels of access. Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), women, the elderly, and those from backward social communities tend to be excluded from digital economies and their gains.
In this context, this panel discussed the various dimensions of access challenges, the goals of policymaking, and the opportunities for market innovators and design solutions, and also thought about how Sri Lanka and India can collaborate more fruitfully.
The following areas were discussed at the panel;
- The known challenges around access.
- How the innovators and civil society be more attentive to these issues of access.
- The challenges innovators face.
- Opportunities and challenges to make programmes be better designed to be inclusive.
- How to contemplate policymaking.
- The scope of formal and informal governance mechanisms.
- What should be left to the markets?
- Embedding access approaches from the beginning have worked out, the pitfalls and the challenges.
- How to work together to ensure we learn from each other’s successes and prevent failure.
The Panelists were:
- Manique Gunaratne, Manager, Specialised Training and Disability Resource Centre, The Employers’ Federation of Ceylon
- Natasha Joshi, Associate Director, Nilekani Philanthropies
- Gayani Hurulle, Research Manager, Lirne Asia
- Prashanth Premakumar, Chief Executive Officer, Agrithmics
- Dr Sarayu Natarajan, Founder Aapti Institute, Moderator
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