Vashkar Bhattacharjee elected Vice-Chair of the Internet Society Accessibility Standing Group

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After a through voting by the world-renowned experts on Internet and Accessibility, Vashkar Bhattacharjee, a Bangladeshi National with Visual Disability, has been elected as the Vice-Chair of the Internet Society Accessibility Standing Group.

He got 35.51% of the total votes where his closest opponent got 25.23%.

The Internet Society Accessibility Standing Group was formed subsequent to ISOC’s plan to de-charter existing Special Interest Groups. While the new SIGs are temporary and project-based, both Accessibility and Youth, as Standing Groups, are permanent.

While expressing his feeling, Vashkar said, “I am grateful to all of those who supported me and I feel, this is not my individual achievement rather a fruit of collective effort. I believe, with the support and encouragement of my well-wishers, as usual, I can take my work to the next level and make a huge impact at the global level within no time, as well exhaust my resources in a more effective way towards the advancement of the world’s largest minority group”.

He has been working with the Internet Governance community for the last decade. “I am involved with internet society Bangladesh chapter, accessibility special interest group of internet society, attended Geneva IGF as an ambassador and spoke in the closing plenary of APRIGF Thailand, 2017, etc. My first journey started with IG in 2014 when I received the ISIF Asia award for my innovation. I am one of the APNIC fellows and contributed towards accessibility and making internet inclusive for persons with disabilities” he said.

Lived with a disability since birth, Vashkar Bhattacharjee, serves as the National Consultant for Accessibility at the a2i program of the Bangladesh government and also plays an advisory role (Disability) at YPSA (Young Power in Social Action). He cares passionately about the issues and challenges around disability and, in particular, about accessibility and inclusion. For the last 15 years, he has been working for Persons with Disabilities by policy formulation, advocacy, innovating assistive and accessible technologies. He has won the UNESCO award, as the first Bangladeshi, for the Digital Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities in 2018.

Pioneered the University of Chittagong as the first inclusive university in the country, Vashkar converted 200,000+ pages of reading materials in accessible formats and trained 500+ Persons with Disabilities on ICT skills and assistive technologies. He also supports government initiatives to make information and services accessible for Persons with Disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic as National Helpline 333 and myGov.

Speaking on his accomplishments, Vashkar Bhattacharjee stated that “any recognition and achievement is a matter of great pleasure. As a pioneer in Bangladesh, I would like to add more about my DAISY (Digital Accessible Information System) Project, which started in 2005. I have converted more than 200 thousand pages of reading and informational materials into Daisy format notably. The conversion of all the textbooks of Class 1-12 and creation of Bangladesh’s 1st Accessible Dictionary was recognized and awarded by the UNESCO in 2018.”

In addition to the UNESCO award, Vashkar has received number of other international and national recognitions for his contribution, such as Bangladesh Prime Minister’s Award 2016, Henry Viscardi Award 2017, and International Excellence Award for Accessible Publishing from London Book Fair 2015 and so on.