Private sector IT firms and Ministry of Information Technology (MoIT) are partnering up to create special apps for the physically/mentally challenged in Pakistan.
The Ministry will be providing funding for various programs under which the private sector IT firms will develop these applications.
Why this measure took so long to materialize is anyone’s guess, however, this would enable socioeconomic inclusion of a large number of special people living in Pakistan.
Analysts say that even though this is a good start, consistent efforts are needed to bring major changes in the market.
For this purpose, Rs. 124 million has been allocated towards training and investment for startups by the MoIT.
About 1 billion people across the world are physically or mentally challenged, with most of them living in developing countries. According to World Bank’s statistics, about 20% of them (around 110 to 190 million) are facing a significant disability.
People with disabilities are more likely to suffer from socioeconomic disparity, with poor healthcare, education, lower employment rates and poverty.
Disabled People in Pakistan
In 2014, a British Council report documented the number of people with disabilities in Pakistan. According to their estimates, there is just one trained physiologist or psychiatrist for every 230,000 disabled people in the country.
There is an obvious lack of effort on the government’s part on this front. Back in 2012, there were an estimated 710,995 people suffering from mental issues in Pakistan (PWD’s statistics), with just 330 special needs schools for them.
Improvements on The IT Front
Developments in ICT can help bridge the gap between the disabled and the rest of the Pakistani population.
Back in 2016, 5 apps received a PTA Mobile App Award. These included:
- Smart Devices, which helps disabled persons use everyday appliances like turning on fans or lights.
- Tell Me, a voice guiding app that helps visually impaired people to navigate their surroundings.
- Roll Out, shares info on restaurants and hotels that cater to mentally/physically challenged people.
- iCataract, cataract detection system for visually impaired people.
- Accurate Position Marking, helps people rehabilitating from head or shoulder injuries.
Additionally, startups like WonderTree are trying to help children with special needs through their Augmented Reality Learning System (ARLS) as well.