United Nations arm in charge of global telecommunication development, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has charged member countries on inclusive information and communications technology (ICT) growth. Specifically, ITU said members, including developing countries such as Nigeria, should focus attention on the role of emerging technologies in promoting ICT accessibility.
The body, which was founded May 17, 1865, also called for the deployment of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and the design of innovative digital solutions to improve the quality of life of persons with disabilities.
Through the Digital Inclusion Programme, ITU supports its members in their efforts to empower all people – regardless of gender, age, ability, or location – by promoting ICT accessibility to create a more equitable and inclusive digital society. ITU develops resources and strengthens the capacity of members to implement ICT accessibility for digital inclusion policies and strategies, which ensure that no one is left behind in the digital age.
ITU Secretary-General, Houlin Zhao, noted that delivering on the promise of the digital economy means to leave no one behind. “We at ITU believe that the principles of universal design, equal opportunities to accessible ICTs and assistive technologies are key to building inclusive societies.”On his part, the Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau, Doreen Bogdan-Martin, said: “Promoting digital accessibility is part of our commitment to leaving no one behind.“With the world becoming ever more digital, accessibility to ICTs must be one of our most urgent priorities. These collaborative regional platforms bring together a broad community of expert stakeholders from government, the private sector and civil society, and are an effective way of accelerating progress towards building a more inclusive information society.”
In his remarks at the event, Ecuador’s Minister of Telecommunication and Information Society, Andrés Michelena, said Accessible Americas provides a unique platform to share innovative ideas and projects that will enable persons with disabilities greater access to digital technologies.
“In Ecuador, we are developing the Digital Ecuador Policy, which will encourage the development of digital products and services accessible to persons with disabilities in areas such as e-health, e-learning and e-commerce. Only with equitable access to ICTs can we build a truly inclusive society in the Americas,” he stated.
At the Accessible Europe event, held in St Julian, Malta, from December 4 to 6 , 2019, participants addressed the future of ICT accessibility in reducing inequalities, and also shared views and expertise on ways to advance the ICT accessibility agenda in the European Region.
The Accessible Europe event was jointly organized with the European Commission (EC), and hosted by the Malta Parliamentary Secretariat for Persons with Disability and Active Ageing (PSDAA).EU Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli, said, “Accessibility of ICT for persons with disabilities is not a marginal issue, it touches the basis of our democracy and the fairness and openness of our society.” She added, “let us exploit the potential of the European Accessibility Act and other EU tools, legislation, policy and funding to scale up efforts to make digital products and services more accessible to persons with disabilities.”
Malta’s Parliamentary Secretary for Persons with Disability & Active Ageing, Anthony Agius Decelis, said: “We should never forget those groups to whom accessibility does not only mean having an easier life; for persons with disabilities and older persons in particular, accessibility means the difference between participating actively in society, and not being able to participate at all.” He added, “We have brought together the best minds, from Europe and beyond, under one roof to build upon the efforts of ITU and the European Commission, in the field of accessible information and communication technology.”
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