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Daniel Aghion



12/18/2008

Does Much of ICT Accessibility Revolve around Language?

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The second anniversary of the adoption by the United Nations of the Convention is a remarkable milestone in that so much has already been accomplished by individual countries in signing and more importantly ratifying the Convention setting the stage for even increased momentum in the year to come.

Indeed, while to this date 44 countries have ratified the Convention, including Sweden and the Republic of Korea in this last week alone, it is even more remarkable that those countries now represent more than half the world population.

When looked at from the perspective of ICT, as those countries translate the Convention into local laws, this milestone now presents an irreversible and compelling case for the ICT industry to accelerate its efforts to build accessibility features in its products solutions.

This endeavor raises many questions and challenges from opportunities for universal design to how to prioritize such efforts. Early results indicate that besides India and China, which each account for more than a billion inhabitants, other ratifying countries account for about 1.2 billion people. Interestingly enough, tabulations indicate over half of the early ratifications are by countries using Spanish, English, Arabic or French as their primary language.  

Primary Language

Ratifying Countries

Population (millions)

Spanish

13

293

English

7

139

Arabic

5

124

French

3

27

Chinese

1

1321

Hindi

1

1130

Portuguese

1

188

Other

13

401

Total

44

3623

Far from suggesting that this should drive the ICT industry’s priorities in addressing accessibility in their product and solution designs, this leaves us with two interesting questions:

• Does much of ICT accessibility revolve around language?
• Should early momentum from ratifying countries with a common language provide an impetus to prioritize some of the industry’s accessibility efforts?

Your comments back on those questions are greatly appreciated