Muscat: An international study has shown Oman’s leadership in information and communication technology (ICT) accessibility for persons with disability (PwDs).
The results of this study were announced for the first time during the sixth International Conference on Information and Communication Technology and Accessibility (ICTA) 2017, which held its closing ceremony on December 21 at the Sultan Qaboos University, under the patronage of Dr. Rahma Al Mahrooqi, SQU Deputy Vice Chancellor for Postgraduate Studies and Research.
ICTA 2017 is an Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organisation international biannual conference, which has been organised this time in collaboration with the College of Education (SQU), Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation and the Omani National Commission for Education, Culture and Science.
The results of this international study were announced by Axel Leblois, President of Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies (G3ict), formed in 2016 at the initiative of United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
In his remarks, Leblois credited the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) for the rapid global adoption of policies and legislation to protect the rights of persons with disabilities.
All the 12 Arab League countries who participated in a survey on good practices in ICT accessibility — Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Sudan, State of Palestine, Tunisia, Yemen— have ratified the CRPD.
They have 100 per cent legislation to protect the rights of persons with disabilities as against 84 per cent worldwide.
And 58 per cent have aligned their definition of accessibility with Article 9 of the CRPD by including ICTs or electronic media on par with the built environment and transport.
While those numbers show great commitments and a favourable evolution of legislation for ICT accessibility among the Arab League countries surveyed, their actual implementation is lagging as against the laws and policies in place. For instance, among the same countries, only 16 per cent have any meaningful level of implementation for accessible television; for the deaf notably, only 25 per cent have a meaningful implementation of web accessibility policies, and only 25 per cent any meaningful policy to make mobile phones and services accessible and available to persons with disabilities.