13 December 2022

Beirut time


Accessible Arab Region: ICT for ALL - 2022

  • Online

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

Organized in collaboration with the International Telecommunication Union, the second edition of the conference aims to raise awareness, share good practices and challenges, leverage capacity and encourage regional engagement in prioritizing digital accessibility to build inclusive digital societies and environments in the Arab region. Accessible Arab Region: ICT for ALL serves as a knowledge-development platform for open informative and interactive discussions with all interested stakeholders on the importance of mainstreaming ICT/ digital accessibility principles.

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.

Outcome document

Based on the conference’s deliberations and discussions, several recommendations were proposed: 

  1. The importance of having the event “ACCESSIBLE ARAB REGION- ICT FOR ALL” recurrent every year to raise awareness about the importance of digital accessibility and to provide a platform for dialogue, sharing best practices, knowledge and initiatives. 
  2. Encourage relevant ministries or agencies in the Arab region to develop/update national policies/strategies on e-Accessibility and to implement those plans.
  3. Governments are encouraged to adopt internationally recognized standards to enhance the quality of its public procurement efforts concerning technology-based products, services, and information resources.
  4. Raise awareness at national level in general and in public entities in particular on the role of e-Accessibility. Policymakers are encouraged also recognize the critical added value of digital accessibility in terms of its impact on enhancing opportunities of inclusion of persons with disabilities in education, enhancing their employability, and improving the quality of their lives alongside with elderly people and other groups of marginalized populations
  5. Policy makers as well as technology specialists  are invited to recognize the strategic added value of disability data and its role in enhancing opportunities of digital accessibility rights recognition in Arab countries.
  6. Adopt an approach that enables deeply localized, culturally and gender-sensitive digital content. This is crucial to promote and facilitate greater accessibility across the region.
  7. Consider aspects related to digital safety (and to a larger extent digital citizenship) as an integral part to any effort related to digital accessibility. 
  8. Enhancing coordination and collaboration among national stakeholders is necessary to avoid duplication of efforts and to maximize the value of content/tools created to enhance digital accessibility.

Ms Sara Minkara the Special Advisor on International Disability Rights at the United States State Department presented the keynote speech. Ms. Minkara emphasized that technology accessible is not a favour but a right to the person with a disability that needs to be upheld. She highlighted that by not making technology accessible we are losing the talent, innovation and creativity of persons with disabilities that they would have contributed to our societies. Technology is a defining feature of our age, it is used and found everywhere, so let’s make it accessible for all. She emphasized that not only persons with disabilities benefit from digital inclusion, rather, when technology is accessible everyone benefits.  She concluded by highlighting the business case for e-accessibility; technology can widen the market which will lead to better economic circulation that will lead to better living standards for all.

Under the “Arab Digital Inclusion Platform” (ADIP) initiative launched in 2020, ESCWA aims to promote digital accessibility in the Arab region, Through the ADIP project, , and within its technical cooperation program ESCWA is supporting policy and decision makers in the Arab counties to develop or improve their national policies and to devise related action plans and guidelines for adoption and implementation for enhanced e-Accessibility, which will contribute to bridging the digital divide and enable all society members to equal access. In this context, ESCWA developed templates for national policies and technical guidelines on e-accessibility. As part of the ADIP project, ESCWA is currently conducting national rollouts of the templates, and working with three member countries to develop their national e-accessibility policies, namely Syria, UAE, and Palestine. In this session, representatives from Syria, UAE and Palestine presented the work in this field and gave an overview about the main components of the e-accessibility national policies, their status, in addition to highlighting the main role the government can play in in promoting digital accessibility to accelerate the achievement of 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

This session began with a brief introduction about the ICT accessibility in the global context, bringing in some information about G3ICT and its initiatives, before presenting the ICT accessibility innovation ecosystem in the Arab region. The session also discussed the progress of digital accessibility in the region and gave an overview about the progress of digital accessibility initiatives in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. In this context, the session highlighted some of the common challenges that face the promotion and implementation e-accessibility policies and programs in the region and provided thoughts on how to overcome them and what are the main opportunities that would help the region move forward in promoting and implementing ICT accessibility on different levels.

A good and quality education system includes all students and welcomes and supports them to learn regardless of their abilities or requirements. This session described the opportunities, challenges, and emerging initiatives for using ICT to create more inclusive learning environments. Speakers in this session presented the main components of digital Inclusion in the Education sector and overviewed on the different aspects related to its ecosystem. Different initiatives in the field of Digital Inclusion in the Education sector from the region were presented highlighting perspectives for the future and recommendations to boost the role of ICT in supporting learners with disabilities.

Event details

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