Umang Dua

Umang Dua

President at Issist Inc

Location:
18 Grist Mill Drive, Georgetown, Ontario, Canada
Company:
Issist Inc
HQ Phone:
(905) 702-1498

General Information

Experience

President - ISSI

Research and Development Developer - StatCom

Recent News  

Dis-IT: Events

Umang Dua (Issist)

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Dis-IT: Events

Umang Dua (Issist, Inc.)

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Dis-IT: Events

Presenters: Steve Jacobs (IDEAL Group, Inc.), Umang Dua (Issist), Jeff Pledger (AbleTV.net)
Presenter: Umang Dua (Issist) Umang Dua is a principal at Issist, a Canadian based company dedicated to providing affordable accessibility solutions for people with disabilities. Dua's presentation dealt with Issist's business model of giving its iZoom screen magnification software to individuals with disabilities for free, but charging companies/organizations to install the software on their websites. "One of the goals that we had when we started Issist was that we've got to bring down the cost of assistive technology, because it's really ridiculously expensive if you try to buy it yourself. Even with a full-time job I can't afford assistive software." Dua sited examples of assistive technology (AT) that are very expensive and raised the point that people with disabilities are associated with low employment rate and therefore can't afford such software and devices. "The last statistic I read was 70 percent of those with disabilities, or at least with visual impairments or who are blind are unemployed." Dua argued that assistive technology is expensive for two main reasons. Secondly Dua explained that another reason assistive technology is so expensive is because much of it is purchased by organizations rather than individual users. "A lot of the purchases are made by rehabilitation centres, high schools, universities, hospitals, etc and not by end users. These organizations have to buy it for legal reasons and of course they also have to buy it for their customers, or students etc. [If I'm a developer] and I know that a grant is going to pay for my software, I'll mark it up as high as possible, because it's not coming out of the end user's pocket, or only a small percentage is." Dua described how the high unemployment rate of people with disabilities is related to and perpetuated by limited access to technology, increasing the divide between people with disabilities and those without disabilities. "Let's say I'm visually impaired, I want to go to monster.com to look for a job. I don't have a screen magnifier so I can't go to that website, and I don't have a screen magnifier because I can't afford it unless I have a job. You see the vicious circle that goes on from there." Shifting his focus to mainstream software and website design, Dua stated that most mainstream software and websites are not designed with accessibility in mind. "The statistic that I read was that 98% of websites are not compliant with accessibility guidelines. If accessibility helps so many people, and in some cases help businesses, why don't companies make their software or their websites accessible?" To support his claim that accessibility is often ignored, Dua referred to a 2001 survey of 25 companies that develop educational software for children. Dua suggested that one solution to the problem of accessible software being so expensive is for assistive technology vendors to partner with mainstream software vendors. This partnership can make these products free to end users. Dua provided examples to support his claim. [Umang, can you help clarify this] Dua explained that this business model is not unique to Issist, and described three other companies that generate revenue this way. Dua said that each of these companies could have sold their software directly to end users, but have chosen to sell to websites. "That is how," he explained, "the end user gets to use a piece of software for free." Although Issist launched iZoom only two months before his presentation, Dua said that feedback from end users has been very positive. "Similar software costs three or four digits easily if you buy it from other vendors. We've really received positive feedback because of this, and it really gives us a positive image. People really like our software, because it's free." Dua concluded by emphasizing the benefits of partnerships between mainstream and assistive technology vendors. Dua responded by giving an example of a company that Issist increased their potential customers and therefore revenue by incorporating a product from.

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