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G3ict/Smart Cities for All Country Representative Program Announces New Members for Fiji, Georgia, Lebanon, Republic of Korea, and Turkey

The Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs, through its Smart Cities for All (SC4A) Initiative, welcomes the appointment of three new Country Representatives to its network of distinguished accessibility professionals from around the world.

ATLANTA (December 13, 2022) —

Today the Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs (G3ict), through its Global Policy Center and Smart Cities for All global initiative, is pleased to announce the appointment of five new Country Representatives (CRs) – Georgina Naigulevu (Fiji), Tamar Makharashvili (Georgia), Seak-Zoon Roh (Korea, Republic of), Bachar Abdel Samad (Lebanon), and Emin Demirci (Turkey). G3ict’s global network of disability and accessibility leaders now extends to 45 members worldwide, each working to promote in their country the goals and objectives of G3ict, SC4A, and the International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP).

Smart Cities for All and other G3ict initiatives benefit from a global network of expert Country Representatives who collaborate with local and national governments, civil society, and private sector stakeholders to make societies and communities more inclusive in the context of the UN SDGs (#11), the UN-Habitat III New Urban Agenda, and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Since 2019, G3ict and Smart Cities for All have worked to grow and strengthen the unique network of accessibility leaders and experts to shape ideas and influence accessibility policy in their countries.

“Driving disability inclusion progress worldwide is a top priority. One way we scale our global impact is through our network of incredible country representatives,” said James Thurston, G3ict Vice President and Managing Director of Smart Cities for All. “Today we grow that network from 40 to 45 by welcoming each of these disability and accessibility leaders!

The Country Representatives bring to their countries the global work of G3ict and Smart Cities for All and a broad understanding of accessibility and universal design for technology, transportation, and built environments. Each Country Representative will leverage valuable technical expertise and use their experiences to play a significant role in expanding the global impact of the G3ict and its Smart Cities for All Country Representative Program.

“As a Person with Disability in this digital age, joining G3ict is a great honor for me to share the same vision where learning and collaboration with professionals in this mission can progress my intention to make an inclusive world a reality for my community in Fiji,” said Georgina Naigulevu.

Georgina Naigulevu is a Project Manager (Digital and Health Information) at the Fiji Program Support Facility supporting the Ministry of Health and Medical Services in Fiji. She is a technologist with over 20 years of experience in digital transformation across multiple industries and sectors. She is the current Governance Board Chair for Fiji Women's Fund and Board Treasurer for Fiji Disabled People's Federation. Her passion and dedication to her community led to her co-found the Mobile Me Map-a-thon Project that brought together volunteers to share experiences with Persons with Disability in data capture of street level sidewalks within the urban area using a smartphone accessibility audit tool.

“Joining G3ict as a Country Representative will contribute to raising awareness and knowledge of international experiences and best practices on Smart Cities for All, accessibility, and Universal Design,” said Tamar Makharashvili. “It is a unique opportunity for my home country, Georgia, and honor for me to be part of the international team of professionals who are working hard to achieve progress in their countries.”

Tamar Makharashvili is a Founder and Director of the Parsa Inclusive Tourism Center, an affiliated member of European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT). She has been working in the non-governmental sector to support the introduction, advocacy, and raising awareness of accessibility standards, access audits, universal design, and sustainable and inclusive tourism development in Georgia since 2010. Tamar is a member of the Tbilisi Municipality City Hall Mayor’s Committee for People with Disabilities. She is the co-author of publications in inclusive tourism, universal design, and accessibility standards. The latest one, “Inclusive Cities Urban Area Guidelines” provides universal design solutions, accessibility standards, and case studies on inclusive urban development.

“My previous research and activities, such as revising the Korean web, mobile, and kiosk accessibility guidelines, as well as instructional design for people with disabilities can contribute to G3ict's activities as they are closely related to these fields,” said Seak-Zoon Roh. “I would like to contribute to establishing policies, revising laws and guidelines to enhance accessibility and usability to my country, using various know-hows and resources obtained through G3ict's activities.”

Seak-Zoon Roh is an Associate Professor in the Department of Education at Sungshin Women’s University in South Korea. For almost 20 years, he has conducted research and revised national-level guidelines related to web, mobile, and kiosk accessibility with the Korean government, including the Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT) and the National Information Society Agency (NIA). Seak-Zoon served as the Chairperson of the Digital Divide Resolution Subdivision of the Digital Inclusion Forum, as a member of the Smart City Council, Seoul Metropolitan City, and the Chairperson of the Web Accessibility Standards Subdivision of the Information Accessibility Forum. Mr. Roh is currently the President of the Universal Design Society of Seoul and the Vice President of the Korean Association for Educational Information and Media.

“I look at my participation in the G3ict global network of accessibility experts as an opportunity to enrich my knowledge and experience in the accessibility field, to enhance mutual support, and to highlight the local efforts made in this field towards an inclusive society,” said Bachar Abdel Samad.

Bachar Abdel Samad is an architect, an urban planner, and an expert accessibility consultant. He has extensive experience in a wide range of projects with a focus on built environment, inclusive reconstruction, inclusive education, and accessible tourism. As the head of the Architectural Committee of Lebanese Union of the People with Physical Disabilities (LUPD), Bachar Abdel Samad has been involved in the formulation of the decrees on the voting rights for persons with disabilities and in standards for public buildings. Since 2017, he has been a Coordinator of the Accessibility Commission at the Order of Engineers and Architects in Tripoli, Lebanon. Bachar Abdel Samad is a lecturer at the Faculty of Fine Arts and Architecture at Lebanese University, and the Coordinator of Accessible Committee at LIBNOR (Lebanese Norms Organization).

“It is an honor for me to join the G3ICT family as a country representative as I see their effective work internationally to promote the accessibility issue for the disabled,” said Emin Demirci. “I can contribute to the valuable work of G3ICT since I know the legal framework for the disabled in Turkey.”

Mehmet Emin Demirci is a Vice-President of the Confederation of the Disabled of Turkey. He has an undergraduate degree in Sociology and a graduate degree in Adult Education from Bosphorus University. Emin has extensive experience in promoting digital accessibility in Turkey in close collaboration with both public and private agencies. He has worked with expert teams to localize in Turkish software for the blind and helped to extend the use of digital technology among the blind. Over the years, Emin has worked with national and international organizations of and for the blind and attended many conferences aimed at addressing the challenges faced by blind and low vision people. Emin is affiliated with the Istanbul City ICT Accessibility Commission, the European Disability Forum (EDF) as a delegate of Turkey, and the World Blind Union (WBU) as a national delegate.


ABOUT G3ICT

G3ict – the Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies – is an advocacy initiative launched in December 2006, in cooperation with the Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at UN DESA. Its mission is to facilitate and support the implementation of the dispositions of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) promoting digital accessibility and Assistive Technologies. Participating organizations include industry, academia, the public sector, and organizations representing persons with disabilities. G3ict promotes good practices in digital accessibility policies and programs and provides tools for advocates around the world, including through its Global Policy Center (GPC) that defines and deploys worldwide good practices, tools, and model policies for accessibility and inclusion. G3ict’s Digital Accessibility Rights Evaluation Index (DARE Index) benchmarks countries' progress. Through its division IAAP, the International Association of Accessibility Professionals, G3ict offers professional development resources and certification to more than 2,000 members in 46 countries. For more information, please visit the G3ict website.

ABOUT SMART CITIES FOR ALL

In 2016, G3ict partnered with leading civil society and industry organizations to launch the Smart Cities for All global initiative as part of its Global Policy Center. Since then, Smart Cities for All has defined the state of ICT accessibility in cities worldwide and created tools and a path forward to improve the digital inclusion of persons with disabilities and older persons. The goal of Smart Cities for All is to eliminate the digital divide for persons with disabilities and older persons in urban environments around the world. The global initiative partners with leading organizations and companies to create and deploy the tools and strategies needed to build more inclusive Smart Cities. For more information, please visit the Smart Cities for All website.

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Mahtab Irani, Communications Manager, G3ict, mirani@g3ict.or