Nations lagging behind on persons with disabilities

Very few nations have acted to ensure that persons with disabilities are part of the technology revolution despite the unprecedented growth in mobile and Internet use worldwide.

The Model Accessibility Report  notes that although many countries have information and communication technology (ICT) laws, policies and regulations that generally support the principles of universal access to ICT, the needs of the disability community are different and require a deliberate additional focus on ICT accessibility by legislators, policy-makers and regulators aimed at removing barriers to ICT use.

The policy framework was launched today at the Accessible Americas meeting organized by ITU, UNESCO, Brazil and the National Secretariat for the Promotion of the Rights of People with Disabilities of the Human Rights Secretariat of the Presidential Cabinet of the Brazilian Republic (SDH) in São Paolo, Brazil.

The report is jointly published by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies (G3ict).

Bearing in mind the barriers faced by persons with disabilities in using many mainstream ICTs, the report is designed to guide national policy-makers and regulators in creating their own ICT accessibility policy frameworks in consultation with persons with disabilities. It focuses on different aspects of ICT accessibility, namely amendments to the existing ICT legal framework, public ICT access, mobile communications, television/video programming, government websites and public procurement of accessible ICTs.

“ITU is working with all stakeholders towards global ICT accessibility and affordability in all countries and regions and by all peoples, including persons with disabilities,” says ITU secretary general Hamadoun I Toure.

“There is no doubt that ICTs can enable and accelerate access to resources such as education and health care for persons with disabilities leading to their greater social, economic and political inclusion,” added Toure.

“The report contains concrete steps that can be taken to make meaningful rules and regulations to ensure that ICT accessibility becomes a reality on the ground,” said Brahima Sanou, director, Telecommunication Development Bureau, ITU.

“ITU’s leadership in promoting ICT accessibility plays an important role in realizing the promises of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,” said Axel Leblois, president and executive director, G3ict.

“The report, which is the result of seven years of cooperation between ITU and G3ict, offers easy to use policy frameworks inspired by existing good practices and available technologies from around the world. It also emphasizes the critical importance of involving relevant stakeholders in developing and monitoring ICT accessibility policies with the active participation of persons with disabilities,” added Leblois.

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