Bangladesh has won the world’s most prestigious IT award called the “World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) Prize-2017”. On 13 June 2017, in a grand ceremony at the headquarters of the United Nation’s International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in Geneva, WSIS Winner Prize was awarded to Access to Information (a2i) Program of the Prime Minister’s Office of Bangladesh for the project titled “DAISY standard Accessible Reading Materials for Persons with Visual Disabilities.” The trophy was handed over by ITU’s Secretary General Mr. Haolin Zhao to Mr. Vashkar Bhattacharjee (National Consultant for Accessibility at a2i Program and Program Manager at YPSA) and Mr. Kabir Bin Anwar (Project Director at a2i Program and Director General at Prime Minister’s Office in Bangladesh).
With support from a2i’s Service Innovation Fund, the innovator Mr. Vashkar Bhattacharjee who is also a visually impaired person along with Young Power in Social Action (YPSA) have transformed all regular textbooks into user-friendly “DAISY Multimedia Books” for all subjects from Classes 1 to 10. Apart from students, these books can be listened to and read by around 30% of the low-literate population using low-cost devices like android- and PC-based devices.
Given that the books are in digital format, the text can be easily used as content for multimedia classrooms and also printed out as braille text. This initiative has been widely appreciated as a replicable initiative and that Bangladesh can provide technical assistance in this regards which can play an important role in promoting South-South Cooperation in the region.