Absolutely! There is a very significant gap. The situation gets worse in some areas when we consider gender, age, literacy levels, and disabilities. These issues are not alleviated via infrastructure alone. The content and the creation process are also very relevant. The potential of the Web is enormous. Yet, how do you reach a person in Africa, Asia, who speaks a different language or can’t read (or read very well). Worse, what if they can’t see?
W3C has been working on accessibility standards (an overview can be found at: https://www.w3.org/WAI/intro/wcag.php). Standards address what content creators should conform to, to make content accessible. This is part of the story. What about creating community/individual relevant content?
Mobile platforms offer many opportunities. They are becoming accessible and the infrastructure required for physical access is simpler to address. Thus, it is becoming more likely that physical access can be achieved. Creating content and content creation platforms are very important now. For example, the use of video and audio seem very promising for locally relevant material. Then, comes software that supports finding and processing such content in interesting and useful ways. Fortunately, deep learning and signal processing research is working hard on learning from big data. So, there is hope…
One of the directions I am interested in is human in the loop content creation. We call it renarration, which focuses on creating and relating an alternative narration to existing content. The applications are infinite, but you can imagine legal content on labor laws. A topic that is very significant for many people, most of all low wage earners. Such legal content is difficult to comprehend (frankly, for most people). Some people work hard to make difficult to comprehend topics accessible to various audiences. For example, consider the description of a report to be filed about a crime ( a type of report in India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan). Here are various approaches to disseminate:
Another example is the famous Khan Academy (https://www.khanacademy.org/) and similar efforts to make educational material more interesting and accesible! Are they? Depends…
Let’s end with something yummy, who can access this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BkNEj1YU-Mg