HYDERABAD: The Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM) app, the bedrock of the central governments push for a digital India remains inaccessible to the 150 million visually impaired Indian citizens, a study has found.
The case study on the BHIM app by the Centre for Internet Security found several accessibility issues with both Google’s android and Apple’s iOS versions of the BHIM app. BHIM was launched on December 30, 2016, nearly two months after demonetisation. The application is a government-owned payment gateway aimed to facilitate fast, secure, reliable cashless payments through mobile phones.
The User Interface (UI) of the application is pretty much straight forward but fails to take into consideration the needs of the visually challenged.
The visually challenged are unable to access even simple features such as “to enter the desired information and get feedback”, says the study. The visually-challenged use a variety of accessibility applications that talk back to the user, explaining functions and actions of the user. The most popular being the TalkBack app which is a part of the Google’s Android Accessibility Service designed for the visually challenged.
The TalkBack app functions by reading out aloud the text on the application. But if the text is embedded into the label image, as in the case of BHIM, then the TalkBack does not read them. The study found the visually-challenged are even unable to find out the purpose of options in the BHIM app.
For the TalkBack function to work, the accessibility Application Programming Interface (API) should be able to interact with the UI of the BHIM app.
The study suggests this could be made possible by the app developers. In the case of BHIM app that would the government-owned National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).
“Most of the banks have got Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology based interface to carry out funds transfer transactions but at preset BHIM app is not disabled-person friendly,” said AP Hota, managing director and chief executive officer of NPCI.
“The government is talking about e-governance in the process of delivery of services and programmes but none of them are accessible to the visually-impaired,” said Pavan Muntha, chief executive officer of Swadhikaar, Centre for Disabilities. “Even the websites of government bodies are not disabled-friendly,” he added.