28-30 November 2023

Accessible Arab Region: ICT for ALL – 2023

In a technology-driven society that works toward leaving no-one behind, information and communications technology (ICT) and digital accessibility are imperative. Digital inclusion and empowerment through ICTs in the Arab region are only possible if technology and the services it delivers are designed and delivered considering all people, regardless of age, gender, ability or location.

Organized in collaboration with the International Telecommunication Union hosted by the Agence de Developpement du Digital (ADD) of Morocco, the third edition of the conference aims to:

  • Raise awareness, share insights and experiences, and foster networking opportunities among participants
  • Emphasize knowledge development and capacity-building while showcasing successful practices in involving persons with disabilities in the planning and design of suitable solutions
  • Empower all individuals to effectively access the digital world.

The event focuses on work and initiatives that promote policy implementation, strategies and resources to ensure the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the United Nations Disability Inclusion Strategy and other related global commitments.

The Accessible Arab Region event is held in Arabic, English and French and counts on local sign language interpretation. It also provides a training opportunity in ICT Accessibility.

To register, click on the link and follow the instructions given in the document "Guidelines on how to create an account in ITU for registration".

Outcome document

141 people participated in the event of which 90 joined the organizers in Rabat and a further 51 joined remotely via Zoom.

Participants represented 24 countries, including 18 Arab countries.

The key takeaways are:

  1. The importance of developing national plans for digital accessibility to enable everyone to benefit from ICT applications and services.
  2. Emphasize on the development of inclusion and digital accessibility in all sectors such as health and education.
  3. Enhance the role of manufacturers in the development of products and services meeting the requirements of digital accessibility.
  4. Improve the contribution of the start-up community in the development of inclusive products and services linked to digital accessibility.
  5. The Importance of collaboration between stakeholders for an inclusive digital transformation.

In his keynote address Mr. Abdelmalek Asrih – member of the administrative council of the association “Colombe blanche pour les droits des personnes en situation de handicap” in Morocco – emphasized that accessibility needs to be a human right. He stressed on the need to involve people with disabilities in policy formulation. The role and impact of technology on the work of people with disabilities also be further investigated.

ITU and ESCWA focused in this session on enhancing participants' understanding and knowledge of e-accessibility and the role it plays in creating an inclusive digital society, economy, and ecosystem in the Arab Region. The speakers explained the relationship between digital inclusion and accessibility, in terms of availability of connectivity, affordability and access (usage). They stress that by 2050 two thirds of the world’s population will need digital access. In the Arab region specifically, more needs to be done as infrastructure development but remains below average and prices of technology and connective is amongst the most expensive.

This session explored the importance of effective policies to ensure digital accessibility for all, with particular focus on people with disabilities and gained a better understanding of the policy-making process. The Ministry of Solidarity, Social Inclusion and Family in Morocco and participants from Libya, Tunisia shared their experiences and efforts in digital accessibility and digital transformation, while Qatar shared their experience on implementing accessibility policies and measuring compliance between institutions.

This session focused on global industry leaders in technology and their efforts in accelerating digital accessibility. Huawei, Orange and Meta shared their undertakings in building capabilities, incubating pioneering ideas and providing infrastructure to advance digital accessibility.

The session brought together representatives from the public sector, private sector and United Nations in a discussion of strategies and best practices for the promotion of digital accessibility. The session stressed the importance of open innovation, participatory policymaking, and the education of people with disabilities. It stated that the private sector should be encouraged to support digital accessibility mechanisms and the establishment of an international fund to support such projects should be considered. Representatives from Malta and Qatar shared their experiences in building partnerships between various national organizations.

The focus fell on delivering accessible digital services and applications, specifically the role played by start-ups and SMEs, in areas such as healthcare, emergency telecommunications and transportation. Representatives of start-ups, accelerators, ministries, and international organizations shared their knowledge and experiences.

COVID-19 lead to a shift towards remote learning and highlighted shortage of digital accessibility in education. In the session focus fell on advancements in e-accessibility in education, while discussing the needs of learners and students. Speakers from government agencies, international organizations, academia and UNESCO, explored accomplishments, but also existing challenges and needs.

On the third day of the conference ITU and ESCWA offered training to the participants. In their training ITU explored global trends and commitments, discussed the pillars for digital inclusion and showcased their available tools, resources and activities.

ESCWA explained the use of their digital tools to develop draft national e-accessibility policies and national technical guidelines. The Commission also showcased the Content Adaptation Smart Tool (CAST) that is being developed to systematically automate the process of content adaptation used to create accessible versions of resources.  


arrow-up icon