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Cynthia Waddell

  ICT Accessibility & Government Services Blog

11/15/2007

Welcome to the ICT Accessibility and Government Services Blog!

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Welcome to my corner of the G3ict Expert Zone where I will be looking at the state of accessible ICT and government services around the world. Qatar has become the 100th country to sign the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities and as I write this, four countries have ratified both the Convention and Optional Protocol. We now need 16 more countries to ratify the Convention before it enters into force. Are you ready?

When I was approached to blog this corner, I wondered if there would be time to do it. Even before the Convention opened for signature, the number of activities around the world had been increasing to address the issues identified in the Convention. In the beginning it was easy to follow efforts about accessible ICT because not much was going on. But now . . . I think I need to blog in order to keep a record of this stuff so I can share with you about what our community is doing around the world. Perhaps in doing this we can all leverage our knowledgebase to make the equalization of opportunities a reality in our neighborhood.

So back to this blog- what do I mean by ICT? No - it is not Indochina time even though some of you may have thought you'd seen me on an airplane or overseas somewhere in Ireland, Dubai, Norway, Argentina, or next door in Canada. What's going on? The Convention is bringing a lot of activity to address accessible ICT. By ICT I mean information and communications technology in the broadest sense.

Because accessible ICT impacts everything in our daily life, there may be occasions where this expert zone may overlap with the other expert zones. This means that we will be looking at ICT from many perspectives during this time of technology innovations and unprecedented advances. But remember, as I said in one of my earlier papers on the growing digital divide in access, "Technology Changes, But Civil Rights Do Not!"

Recently I completed two projects for UN Agencies - UNESCO and ITU. The UNESCO project was done in collaboration with Betty Dion of GAATES- the Global Alliance for Accessible Technologies and the Environment. (More about GAATES another time.) We drafted a helpful UNESCO resource entitled Accessibility Guidelines for Community Multimedia Centers. Expected publication is early next year and it addresses access to the built environment as well as accessible ICT for multimedia and telecenters around the world. I'll let you know when it becomes available.

The second project was to develop a background paper for ITU- the International Telecommunications Union- on major issues for development and implementation of successful policies and strategies for ICT. I wrote the paper for an upcoming seminar in Geneva on best practices and services for persons with disabilities. It will be held on 17 September 2007 and I have asked ITU for permission to link to it here.