Telecom Union Urges Access for Disabled

Greetings!  I’m Nico Trimoff, manager of transcription and accessibility services at
Today, I have a fitting article to share with you; one that expresses the point of view of a telecom company with regard to accessibility for the disabled.
Please read on.
I wish you a great day.
Telecom Union Urges Access for Disabled

By Asina Pornwasin
The Nation, August 25, 2009
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is urging lawmakers and
regulators in Asia-Pacific countries to make a greater effort to provide
access to information and communication technology for disabled people.
The message will be delivered at an Asia-Pacific Regional Forum on
Mainstreaming ICT Accessibility for Persons with Disabilities which starts
today at the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok and runs until
The head of the ITU’s Asia-Pacific regional office, Eun-Ju Kim, said the
forum would also introduce the “e-Accessible Policy Toolkit for Persons with
Disabilities”, developed by ITU and G3ict.
The policy toolkit aims to support various stakeholders in developing
policies and strategies for ICT accessibility for disabled people, in line
with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
The toolkit provides a framework for developing policies and strategies for
mainstreaming digital accessibility at regional, national and international
levels and offers specific guidance to developing countries.
“We aim to raise awareness and generate momentum for the implementation of
the CRPD, especially in countries across this region. Participants at the
forum will exchange experiences and case studies, as well as learning about
innovative ICT-accessibility measures for disabled people, especially
through assistive technologies and applications,” Kim said.
She said that initiatives in Thailand for ICT accessibility for disabled
people, led by HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, who was also one of
ITU’s Patrons, had been carried out. However, the government still needed to
take action.
“ICT accessibility policies, especially for disabled people, will not emerge
overnight. Consistent and persistent steps must be taken to properly design
policies and to implement them for an effective ICT-accessible environment
in any given country,” Kim said.
ICT-accessibility issues must be considered in relevant laws, regulations,
policies and programmes at all stages from design to implementation. She
gave as examples Web technologies including information services, websites
and online applications; public access terminals such as ATMs, information
kiosks, vending machines, information displays, point-of-sale payment
systems and door-entry systems; and application software, telecommunication
devices and services.
The most recent survey in Thailand, undertaken by the National Statistical
Office in 2007, showed that around 1.9 million people, or about 2.9 per cent
of the population, had disabilities.
Despite efforts to bridge the digital divide, the gap for disabled people is
getting wider and deeper as they fail to catch up with new technologies and
services, while assistive technologies, devices and applications
specifically designed for these people are barely affordable, she said.
Kim emphasised the role of not only policy-makers and regulators, but also
that of industries, in their ability to contribute appropriate designs and
affordable ICT products and services for disabled people – taking into
account potential markets in an ageing society.
“ICT products and services built with the needs of disabled people in mind
will be easier for everyone to use. This helps people who are not
technologically skilled to use these products and services. Otherwise, they
will be intimidated by them and won’t use them,” she said.
The ITU will continue to promote the toolkit and deliver appropriate
training based on the toolkit to various stakeholders, including
policy-makers, regulators and others interested in mainstreaming, developing
and implementing ICT accessibility issues for disabled people.
“In Thailand, the ITU is working with the ICT Ministry, the National
Telecommunications Commission (NTC) and Nectec in areas such as
accessibility standards, telecommunications relay services, policy and
regulations and human-capacity building,” Kim said.
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About Donna Jodhan

Donna Jodhan is an award winning blind author, advocate, sight loss coach, blogger, podcast commentator, and accessibility specialist.
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