Arab Digital Inclusion Platform: Future perspectives - United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia
12 April 2022

Beirut time

Expert Group Meeting

Arab Digital Inclusion Platform: Future perspectives

  • Online

Ensuring that people with disabilities have access to digital technologies is essential for development. In 2020, ESCWA launched the Arab Digital Inclusion Platform (ADIP) project, focused specifically on enabling better e-accessibility in the Arab region. Now, the next phase of the project is under development with the help of stakeholders and experts in technology and disability.

The aim of this meeting is to propose a roadmap for increasing the impact of the project throughout the region. The meeting draws on the results of a consultative survey as backdrop against which to explore and analyse the future of ADIP.

Outcome document

  • The main objective of the event was to consult with regional experts and discuss the best options to better serve digital accessibility needs in the region, as well as explore possible future trends.
  • This strategic consultative meeting is of critical importance in identifying and proposing a future roadmap for the sustainability of ESCWA ADIP and to increasing its impact.

COVID-19 made new digital platforms necessary to ensure the continued access to education, health services, government services and the economy. This raised the need for e-accessibility, to ensure that all people have the access necessary to continue their daily lives. In the Arab region, people with disabilities, are still the most vulnerable with limited access, therefore it is imperative that electronic accessibility are developed and implemented. This will ensure greater economic participation, providing an equal footing with others economically and socially. Although Arab countries have made overtures to support people with disabilities, progress has been slow. Therefore, it has been important to encourage the building of policies and tools to turn the voiced support into actions. 

For ESCWA, e-accessibility is an important area to continue development in. The private sector is also focused on providing platforms that grants access for the elderly and people with disabilities.

The survey had a 33 per cent response rate with 57 completed surveys received. In general, the efforts put into ADIP and the digital platform was commended indicating that there is a need for projects and initiatives to advance e-accessibility in the Arab region. Issues highlighted by participants included:

  • Difficulties experienced in using the technical toolkit taking into consideration national conditions, especially if there is no national policy guiding technical requirements.
  • More resources needs to be included in the platform, as some, especially national resources are not available.
  • Training is needed on technical guidelines, but also on the implementation of strategy or policy.

The future activities focused on the proposed 2022-2024 action plan focused on moving forward, advancing e-accessibility in the Arab region and helping countries meet their commitments. Under the plan the templates and tools will be updated in consultation with stakeholders and experts, a study will be published on the status of e-accessibility in the Arab region, while advisories will be conducted to help countries develop national policies and localised technical guidelines. Participants asked for more opportunities to share experiences, especially with the tools and initiatives created, to aid the further.

The technical cooperation programme provided by ESCWA was explained, informing participants that advisory services, consultations and events can be delivered at national level, based on requests received from the country. In the area of technology ESCWA focuses the programme on digital government, empowering Arab countries to use artificial intelligence and the digital economy and information society. A walk-through of the request process was given along with an explanation of the steps if the request is a policy advisory service.

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