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  • GAATES Project Ideas for Governments, Agencies and Corporate Organizations

    The Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments (GAATES) is the leading international organization dedicated to the promotion of accessibility of the built and virtual environments. Registered as a non-profit NGO in Canada, GAATES was incorporated in 2007 by an international consortium dedicated to promoting accessibility worldwide, and has an International presence in 6 regions: the Asia-Pacific, Arab, North America, South America, European and African Regions. The GAATES mission is to promote the understanding and implementation of accessibility of the sustainable built, social and virtual environments, using the guiding articles of the CRPD; including architectural, infrastructural design, transportation systems, habitat, and electronic information and communication technologies; so that everyone, including people with disabilities and older persons are able to fully participate and contribute to society. The GAATES Information and Communication Technologies (ICT)Committee has developed a list of ICT related projects and services that can be undertaken by GAATES forGovernments, International and National Agencies and Corporate organizations. Please note that the titles for the projects are intended to be descriptive and meaningful. The following summary table has been provided as a quick reference to the possible projects that are available for consideration. The Project Proposals are conceptual at this time, and proper full proposals can be developed upon expression of interest.

    Additional information on Project s and Proposals


    Project Objectives:

    The project objective is to develop three quick reference, intuitive and easy to use, inter-related applications (Apps), in order to further the human rights of persons with disabilities. One App will focus on theUN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The other Apps will be based on the technical requirements of the International Standards Organization ISO 21542 Accessibility and Usability of the Built Environment Standard, and the national and/or provincial/state information that is fundamental to creating an accessible built environment for everyone, including people with disabilities.

    These Apps are designed to put this technical information into the hands of all architects, designers and engineers – whether they are in their office or on a job site, they will have access to this important information for ensuring accessibiilty of the built enviroment for everyone. The CRPD App is designed to provide information on the UN Convention to those seeking information related to the leading accessibility and human rights related document in the world. The ISO Stanard App is designed to provide complimentary guiding technical information from the key global accessibility standard.

    Community Needs and Underlying Factors:

    The issues surrounding these Apps is as much about providing access to the built environment, as it is about creating an inclusive social environment where everyone is able to participate in their community. People with disabilities are living longer and more independently, and the number of seniors with disabilities is increasing as part of a global demographic shift, the consequence is a greater need than ever before for inclusive communities which reflect integrations and active living approaches.

    In many countries, the ISO and/or national building codes are available, but not many people know about them, or have an easy access tool that would enable them to more easily and quickly reference the tehcnical requirements that need to be implemented. This app is the tool that would put the information in their hands.

    The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol were adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2006.

    With the ratification of the The UN Convention, a wide variety of users will required quick access to the accessibility related articles and applicable sections of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Furthermore, the implementation of the CRPD will also henceforth dramatically increase the demand by policy makers, developers of information and communication technologies, architects, designers and consultants for quick access to reliable information on the technical specifications of the accessibility components of leading International and national/state/provincial related codes and standards, therefore, the need for a quick reference App on the ISO Accessibility and Usability of the Built Environment Standard.

    Beneficiaries & Outcomes:

    In the long term, this program will benefit not only individuals and organizations who are n accessibility and the CRPD, but more importantly, it will benenfit persons with disabilities, seniors and the community as a whole, as everyone benefits from an universally designed, accessible built environment.

    This project addresses the immediate need to expand the general knowledge associated with the CRPD, the technical specifications of leading accessible standards, the guiding principles of universal design in order to provide effective human rights, ICT and built environment design solutions. At the end of the process, three Apps will have been developed that will provide people with the knowledge, and understanding required to create a more inclusive built and virtual environment for everyone, including seniors, youth and people with disabilities.

    In the longer term, this project will foster collaborations, partnerships and alliances between organizations that share the common goal to eliminate the systemic and physical barriers that persons with disabilities face over their lifetime. In both the short and long-term, this project will provide people and organizations with new and innovative tools that will help governments, consultants, developers of ICTs, architects, designers, codes and standards developers, and persons with disabilities provide more effective solutions and establish a global baseline knowledge for accessibility.


    The goal of the project is to develop Accessibility Guidelines for the providing tools and implementation supporting guides and checklists necessary to ensure accessible online access for Government entities.

    A high-level Accessibility Guidelines Blueprint will be developed that will be used to evaluate and ensure accessible online access. The blueprint will be developed based on a survey and analysis of leading best practices and international standards. As part of this process, a baseline assessment will be conducted of three areas that would affect the development of Online Accessibility Guidelines:Local Nuances, Current Guidelines, and Online Presence of Saudi Government Entities.

    Accessibility Guidelines for online access will be developed by customizing the Accessibility Guidelines Blueprint while taking into account the information portrayed in the baseline assessment of the current landscape. The Online Accessibility Guidelines will provide the minimum standards for accessibility for government entities with online presence through portals or websites. Considerations will include current legal or regulatory requirements for deploying the developed Online Accessibility Guidelines. Should the review of legal and regulatory information for the government indicate a shortage in clauses for accessibility, this will be highlighted and draft legal text customized for the country will be proposed.


    In order to be completely accessible to visually impaired users, PDFs must be tagged according to WCAG 2.0 for accessible provision of information. However, the task of tagging of PDF generally requires specialist know-how;consequently, the majority of the publishing community is unable to cope with this task. Two key-problems must therefore be addressed:

    1. The lack of accessibility knowledge on the part of authors.
    2. Different word processors are used for the generation of PDFs.

    This project aims to complete the development of a web-based tool which can be used with very limited knowledgeof accessibility and does not require any installation on the local computer.

    This is a tool for persons who receive a non-accessible PDF, and enables them to easily and quickly have the document converted into an accessible PDF using a web based platform.


    Many PDF documents are available on internet platforms; unfortunatelymost of them are not accessible for users with disabilities. All major word processors(such as Microsoft Word, OpenOffice, LaTeX, etc.) support a way toexport a document to a PDF file. Yet most of these methods do not produce taggedPDFs (which are required for accessible PDFs), or the resulting PDFs are taggedincompletely (not compliant with WCAG 2.0) and have to be correctedmanually.There are two main objectives to this project:

    A. To implement the PowerPoint and Word accessibility plugins for the Arabic language
    B. To porting these accessibility plugins to the Apple MAC platform.

    This is a tool for people who are developing a PDF from a word, excel, etc. document. Currently available in English, but needs to be translated for easy use in other countries and languages.


    The Vision encapsulated in this Proposal is to establish an Innovation Centre in ICT Accessibility for Persons with Disabilities that will become a focus point forproviding Leadership in Education and Innovation in ICT Accessibility. The “Innovation Centre in ICT Accessibility” plans to build on cooperation & partnerships with organizations within the the country, including universities, colleges and trade schools.


    Providing universal access to banking services entails a commitment to make products and services accessible to the elderly and to people with impaired vision, hearing or mobility. This includes physical access to branch offices as well as accessible ICT systems like ATMs, websites, online banking, account statements, and advisory services.

    Beyond barrier-free buildings, products and services, the second important aspect is the training of employees to make them aware of issues affecting elderlypeople and people with disabilities.

    The accessibility consulting services described in this proposal will help banking institutions with the development of accessible ICT systems and the training of employees in accessibility awareness.


    There is an enormous variety of countries where languages other than English (such as Arabic, Spanish, French, etc.) are a predominant or official language. While some of these nations have resources to purchase conventional proprietary software assistive technologies, others will only be able to assist persons with disabilities in large scale if they use free and open source software-based (FOSS) assistive technologies. This initiative will ensure that the F123 Software, which includes operating system and productivity applications that are compatible with the most widely used file formats and communication protocols, will be translated and localized into Arabic. Since these are all open source applications, there are a large variety of projects, ranging from LibreOffice to eSpeak,that will have other language versions helping even persons using Windows or IOS computers.


    This initiative will combine teams from numerous universities based in countries such as Thailand, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Indonesia, which have a need for free and open source speech synthesizers in their native languages but currently have little or no access to such software. The project will involve an international consortium bringing together various universities, speech synthesis experts, foundations, and NGOs, to improve and develop speech synthesis technology for use in a variety of applications, from desktop to smart phone and e-book player operating systems. Some NGOs and even the International Telecommunication Union have expressed an interest. Funding for the design and planning of the project, and then implementation is needed; above estimate is for a total cost.


    This project will ensure that LibreOffice applications, including word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation applications, are all accessible for use by the blind. This will ensure that persons who are blind or have low vision and use free and open source software-based screen readers and magnification software, such as NVDA or Orca, will be able to also have full access to office applications so that they may be productive without any cost. The project will fund improvements to the word processor and spreadsheet applications, which have limitations in their accessibility, and significant improvements to the presentation application which is currently not accessible at all. This initiative is expected to benefit a few million blind and visually impaired persons, mostly in developing countries, that use both Windows and Linux computers in public schools, libraries, and universities.


    The software in people's minds is even more important than that which they have on their computers. This project will prepare interactive multilingual content to assist the blind in using free and open source software to become more competitive in the job market. The project will provide distance learning courses in 3 languages, a complete assistive technology kit for each blind participant, and orientation and follow-up on networking and other job search skills. The estimated total number of beneficiaries is 1000 blind persons. Recruiting of students from multiple countries will be done through local NGOs and online announcements.

    11. National Digital Talking Library (NDTL)

    Through the NDTL involving different institutions, organizations working with visually impaired can ensure accessible reading materials. Globally, DAISY method are providing the print disabled and visually impaired people with accessible information systems and study information materials; which allow them more equitable access to educational students move into secondary and tertiary education the coverage becomes less comprehensive with very little coverage at the tertiary level. This project will support the development of students by creating access to course books and utilities which previously had not been available to them. New DAISY Production tools have been introduced that can enhance quality and quantity of production. Full text full audio DAISY Book production also needs to be introduced. Skills and knowledge of persons involved in DTB production need to be upgraded for this purpose.

    12. Accessible E-Book for people with print disability.

    Digital books are mother of all formats including braille, accessible e-text and talking books. If appropriate standards are not followed in e-text books then this file cannot be used as basis for all accessible formats and cannot be read using assistive technology such as screen reading software.

    Education, training and implementation program to ensure accessibility and usability of digital publications, to follow two ensure publishers follow the 2 sets of standards and guidelines. These are:

    EPUB 3.

    The recommendation has to be to adhere strictly to EPUB 3 standard for digital books.

    Second set of guidelines to be followed is EPUB 3 accessibility guidelines. These are published by International Digital publishers forum itself. These are available at

    There are three good publications that can be downloaded free of cost. Please follow the links for additional reference materials:

    What is epub?
    Accessible epub3
    Epub best practices

    13. Information, Communications Technology & Resource Centre on Disabilities (IRCD)

    IRCD will be a national level institute work to promote accessible ICTs for people with Disabilities. 2 options for sustainability:

    • the students can pay something to use facilities, can be used not only for training, but used to develop ICT solutions;
    • Can add revenue by selling services, like training, to private organizations who need training in accessible ICTS

    Utilizing ICT knowledge through training of persons with vision disabilitiescan enrich their knowledge and ability tosurf the internet, read newspapers books and printed materials, use “Digitally Talking Books”, search for employment information. It can also help persons acquire the capability of furthering educationundertaking employment, etc. The objective of this exercise is to increase access byPersonswith Disabilities to technology based increase ICTliteracyamong the Person with Disabilities. Having Goal to ensure equal access to Information Communication Technology for Person with Disabilities. A secondary goal is to train private organizationswho need training on implementing accessible ICTs, accessible web services, accessible kiosk services, etc.

    14. Accessible Study Corners (ASC)

    To ensure equal access of service materials persons with Disabilities ASC can play as a role model. To develop skills on the use of digital technologies.At first a need analysis will be conducted to identify the needs of study materials & books for the visually challenged students. A resource centre will be set up at an accessible point of the University where the students will receive accessible educational materials, internet & computer facilities, Braille books, digital & analogue talking books etc. Training will be provided to the visually challenged students to enhance their skills on the use of these study materials. Besides, a group of devoted volunteers will be developed who will assist & support the visually challenged students for their studies (e.g. face to face reading service, mobility assistance). With the help of the volunteers & the technical solutions made available at the study corner & the support of the ASC the regular class notes &lectures will be transformed into accessible format (e.g. Braille, DAISY, analogue cassettes), which they will use for their studies. The study corner will also work as a recreation centre for the visually impaired students & organise other need-based services like career counselling sharing, meetings etc. The DAISY & Braille Books will be produced at ASC which will be disseminated in the Universities. ASC will also collect study materials from National & International libraries & organisations for the study corner.

    construction of accessiibilty after stunami affected school for the Blind at Tanglle in sri Lanka - Project done MC Mendis














    constructions of accessibilty in stunami affected Base Hospital at Panadura in Sri Lanka - Project done by MC Mendis





    construction of accessibility after stunami effected at Home for the Blind at Ambalantota in Sri Lanka - Project done by MC Mendis

    it is pleased to note that above works has completed using USAID financial assitance used by motivation and those access audict,s access dwarings, eccess estimates, selectionons of contractors, supervising & monitoring the constructions, certifying motnly bills, prepared final bills for payments etc. done by M C Mendis as the consultant.













    Accounting for Disabled People In Post-Tsunami Reconstruction

    USAID program at the forefront in implementing new regulations

    TANGALLE – Renuka skitters down the steps out of her classroom after a long afternoon, her hand firmly gripping a shiny metal railing. “Enne yamu!” calls her friend Dayani, two steps ahead, as she breaks into a run. “Let’s go!”

    This schoolyard scene would not be out of the ordinary, except that these are two students at the Special Education Services Society School for the Deaf and the Blind in Polommaruwa, Tangalle. Both girls are visually impaired, and navigate their way down the sidewalk by feeling their way along the textured edges as they run.

    Moving about independently, often at high speeds, is a new experience for these children. After their school was devastated by the tsunami, which killed a dozen students and two teachers, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) offered to finance modifications to make the school more disabled-accessible during the rebuilding process.

    These accessibility upgrades were part of a project that is at the forefront in implementing new regulations requiring access for persons with disabilities in the design of all new construction of public places and common spaces, and modification of existing buildings within the next seven years to render them accessible. Implemented by the Motivation Charitable Trust, a UK-based organization working with disabled people in Sri Lanka in partnership with USAID since 2002, the project has created models of how to modify buildings to make them physically accessible.

    Improvements at the school are subtle to the untrained eye, but crucial to improving the quality of life for this vulnerable group of people. The textured borders on campus pathways prevent students from straying off into the mud; louvered windows that posed a hazard to the heads of visually impaired students now open flat against the walls; and steep staircases have been recast with defined edges, removing tripping hazards and adding firm railings to hold onto.

    “We used to all fall in the mud during the rainy season and mess up our uniforms,” said Renuka, 16. “Now we can run along the paths because we can feel the edge. We don’t bump our heads on the windows anymore, and can walk up onto the stage without help.”

    The project began by consulting people with disabilities about significant impediments they face in their day-to-day life and focusing on practical measures for accessibility. Advocacy groups for disabled people chose nine sites, including facilities such as government hospitals, a community center, and a home for elderly persons with disabilities – all in tsunami-affected districts.

    Incorporating international design standards such as proper width and ramp elevations and railings, these alterations serve as physical models for building contractors, and engineers to make use of in future construction.

    “Until now, there have been few projects in Sri Lanka that have provided visible, practical examples of how to make building construction accessible to disabled people,” said Ben Kauffeld, Humanitarian Assistance Team Leader at USAID. “By going directly to the people who would benefit from the project, we were able to create practical examples of building construction that is disabled accessible.”

    Motivation’s Program Manager Susannah Pritchard said reaction to the project was overwhelmingly positive, not only from disabled beneficiaries, the majority of whom lead lives on the periphery of society, but also from the building industry.

    “Accessibility can improve the independence as well as dignity of disabled people,” she said. “With ramps, wheelchair users will no longer need to be carried up and down stairs. Tactile paving indicators allow people with visual impairments to know where designated crossings or turning points are and can find their way unassisted.”

    Beyond managing and monitoring the selection and contracting of the work, Motivation with the Disability Organizations Joint Front was a key actor in the “Access for All” campaign, which advocated for passage of the new regulations passed in late 2005. Led by a consortium of local and international disability actors, the campaign highlighted the importance of including disabled people in post tsunami reconstruction and disseminated guidelines on how to make buildings accessible.

    Motivation compiled copies of the new and existing regulations with related statutes and standards for dissemination to local officials, architects, and builders in the public, private, and NGO sectors.

    “Architects and engineers have become aware of the need to incorporate disabled accessibility into their projects,” said project accessibility advisor M.C. Mendis. “Our contractors appreciated the value of this work. For most of them, it was the first time they had seen how it can be incorporated into plans at little additional expense.”

    Mr. Mendis, who has lived with polio from a young age, established a strong rapport with administrators and residents of the nine facilities, helping them to identify their most pressing accessibility needs. In connecting contractors and builders with disabled people, he said he is encouraged by a positive change in attitudes toward disabled people in Sri Lanka, who make up nearly 10 percent of the population.

    “Giving people with disabilities access to state services like education, libraries, and health centers will help to make a meaningful contribution to society,” he said. “In the disabled community, there are great scientists, artists, teachers, and business leaders who are waiting for the opportunity to reach their potential.”

    Ms. Pritchard agrees that society can benefit immensely from providing opportunity to persons with disabilities. “This is not just a matter of practicality or morality,” she said. “Opportunity and access to what society has to offer is a basic human right.”