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Employability & Technology
'Empowering Persons with Disabilities through Inclusive ICTs"
Update on The Second Annual Conference and Exhibition on Communications and Information Technology for People with Disabilities: Inclusion, Empowerment and Participation in Cairo, Egypt on April 2-3, 2013.
In April 2013, my daughter Sara Ruh (born with Down syndrome) and I were invited to speak by the Office of the International Labor Organization of Egypt. The conference, hosted by H.E. Mr Atef Helmy, the Egyptian Minister of Communications and Information Technology, presented The Second Annual Conference and Exhibition on Communications and Information Technology for People with Disabilities: Inclusion, Empowerment and Participation (held at Cairo's Smart Village).
Image: Sara Ruh with fellow conference attendee, Ohood Ali Al Sheeb from MADA Qatar
We were very proud to represent G3ict – the Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs – because of the campaign it orchestrates all over the world to promote inclusive Information and Communications Technologies (ICTS) for persons living with disabilities. G3ict is an advocacy initiative of the UN GAID, the United Nations Global Alliance for ICT and Development, launched in December 2006 in cooperation with the Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at UN DESA.
I have always been impressed with G3ict’s mission because if we do not make ICTs accessible, the digital divide continues to widen for Persons with Disabilities. G3ict also supports the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. “According to the United Nation, there is an estimated one billion persons living with disabilities worldwide, making accessible and assistive ICT solutions a priority for industry, users, and policy makers, representing both a major Human Rights milestone and a considerable market driver for Assistive and Accessible ICTs” (Source: G3ict).
Leaders from all over Egypt came to support and speak at the conference. Dr. Abeer Shakweer, Advisor to the Minister of Communications and Information for Social Services, opened the conference with news of how the Ministry will create an education and employment program for persons with disabilities. Other Egyptian leaders included Dr. Abdelsatter Shaaban, Advisor to the Minister of Education for Special Education, Eng. Saed Al-Hamelly, CEO at Etisalat, Eng. Ahmed Aly Ahmed Aly, Govenor of El Fayoum, Dr. Mohamed Fouad Gad Alla, Advisor to the President for Legal Affairs, H. E. Ambassador James Moran, EU Ambassador to Egypt, and H.E. Dr. Mostafa Mosaad, Minister of Higher Education.
Topics under discussion at the conference included latest news and research on Assistive Technology, Accessibility and Universal Design. We also spoke about the specific support required by people living with different types of disabilities, such as persons who are blind, deaf, hard of hearing, mobility impaired, or persons who have intellectual and cognitive impairments, or live multiple disabilities. It was inspiring to watch the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Minister of Communications and Information Technology and the Ministry of Higher Education on the technological development of Persons with Disabilities centers at public universities in Egypt.
Sara and I spoke about our efforts to include people with disabilities in employment, focusing on Ruh Global, our Strategic Communications & Digital Marketing firm that helps corporations include Persons with Disabilities. Our firm allows organizations to connect and integrate the community of PwD, their families and other stakeholders, including Wounded Warriors and Baby Boomers that are acquiring disabilities for the first time in their lives. We also touched upon Sara’s transition from school to employment. We also had the honor to present G3ict’s advocacy efforts towards digital inclusion (accessible ICTs).
Our host, the International Labor Organization (ILO) in Egypt, is working on a program called Decent Jobs for Egypt’s Young People. The ILO is fully committed to the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the workforce and labor pool. To learn more about this program and other ILO activities in the region please visit their website at http://www.ilo.org/cairo/. Sara and I want to thank the ILO for hosting our trip to this international conference. We also want to personally thank Christine Hofmann, Amal Mowafy, Heba Rashed, and the rest of the ILO team for everything they did to welcome and support us during our visit. Egypt is a lovely country and the people were welcoming, inviting and gracious. This conference sets the bar high for other international conferences on inclusion and empowerment. We wish them great success in their continued efforts to include people with disabilities in their society.
Image: Sara Ruh at the Conference
Image: Conference Attendees
Image: Sara Ruh with award winners at the conference
Image: Sara Ruh with members from the Egyptian Association for Sophisticating the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (Asdaa). These young people are focused on Robotic Inventions that will help people with disabilities and senior citizens.