Training of trainers on ESCWA e-accessibility templates - ESCWA
23-25 November 2021
Workshop

Training of trainers on ESCWA e-accessibility templates

Location
  • Online
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In the Arab region, people with disabilities are still among the most marginalized population groups, facing multiple barriers to their participation in society in terms of literacy, education and employment. This situation is emphasized in rural areas where women with disabilities are particularly marginalized and have less access to education, health and employment.

Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) have a tangible impact on digital inclusion throughout the Arab region and could empower people, promote better access for all and build more inclusive societies. ICT, through e-accessibility, can provide people with disabilities with the means to challenge the barriers they face in education, health, employment and literacy. To promote and better develop e-accessibility in the Arab region, ESCWA launched the Arab Digital Inclusion Platform (ADIP) project in 2020.

The training of trainers workshop focuses on the two templates developed by ESCWA:

  • The national e-accessibility policy template for the Arab region, which can be used to develop a general framework for national policies that supports access to ICT and public services for persons with disabilities;
  • The national technical guidelines on e-accessibility for the Arab region, which aims to improve the lives of persons with disabilities, despite current minimal accessibility of websites and digital platforms.

The regional training of trainers workshop aims to provide nominated delegates with deeper knowledge and hands-on training in the use and adaptation of the ESCWA templates on e-accessibility. These skills are essential to the national roll-out of the ADIP project, when trainers will help to conduct activities to disseminate and use the ESCWA e-accessibility templates.

Outcome document

Recommendations

During the workshop, participants highlighted the importance of:

  • Using ESCWA templates and related interactive toolkits for national policy and technical guidelines to build national policies and promote e-accessibility at national level.
  • ESCWA template on national policy for e-accessibility, as it provides a the main framework, that policy makers can be inspired and applied either to review an existing policy or to design a draft new one ready to be discussed with all stakeholders involved in the e accessibility before adoption.
  • The capacity building and raising awareness activities that ESCWA is implementing in the field of e-accessibility and the use of ICT to empower people with disabilities.
  • The technical cooperation between ESCWA and member countries, in which ESCWA can provide technical advisory services to help policymakers build their policies in the field of e-accessibility.
  • Encouraging higher education and scientific research to conduct studies and research and to benefit from the results of these studies in the field of software development.  
  • Carrying out periodic reviews to harmonize the legal framework, policies and programs, monitor the progress achieved, and identify the challenges posed by the continuous development of technology, in order to adjust the national plans accordingly.
  • The collaboration between concerned sectors and multi-stakeholders to form national working groups or committees, in charge of the work needed to promote e accessibility at national level, including the application of the ESCWA templates on national policy and technical guidelines for e-accessibility.

Mr. Haidar Fraihat, Leader of Statistics, Information Society and Technology Cluster, gave the opening statement. After welcoming participants, he considered the workshop an opportunity to discuss e accessibility and the use of ICT to empower people with disabilities. He stated that understanding the advantages and disadvantages of ICTs in the Arab region is vital to identifying solutions to urgent problems facing the region, particularly those of marginalized communities and groups such as people with disability, elderly, women. Mr Fraihat highlighted the crucial role the ICT can play in the economy, workforce growth, education, healthcare and public safety, in other words in building inclusive societies. He highlighted the main activities of ESCWA in promoting e-accessibility in the region, in particular the Arab Digital Inclusion Platform (ADIP) initiative that was launched in 2020 to help policy makers in the Arab countries revise/develop their national e-accessibility policies and technical guidelines. He emphasized on the different activities and templates provided through the ADIP project and commended on the interactive toolkits that ESCWA produced to ensure smooth use of the e-accessibility templates. Mr. Fraihat explained that main objective of the regional training of trainers workshop is to provide in-depth knowledge on the application and adaptation of the ESCWA developed national e-accessibility policy template and technical guidelines.

Ms. Mirna El-Hajj Barbar, Programme Management Officer and ADIP Project coordinator, showed the importance of the digital inclusion for people with disabilities and how ADIP aims to bridge the digital divide and enable all members of society to access and use ICTs. She presented the ADIP project, including the e-Accessibility National Technical Guidelines and the National Policy Template, the Online platform  components, including Resources, IGED space,  and the interactive tools. She presented the three-dimensional strategy adopted for the follow up on ADIP activities and outputs implementation, focusing on capacity building, building partnerships, and providing technical support.

The general framework for building a national e-accessibility policy based on “ROAMEF” cycle was presented by Mr. Rashad Kamel, ESCWA consultant, in addition to the concept and principles of the “universal design”. The DARE indicator was discussed, as well as the how to determine the related requirements to raise a country's rating in this indicator. The nine characteristics of a national e-accessibility policy were presented: responsive, beneficial to all, profitable, cost-effective, sustainable, integrated, governable, flexible, and participatory.

Q&As moderated by Mr. Nawar Al-Awa, Regional Adviser on Technology for Development, discussed the role of stakeholders in the implementation of these policies.

Focused on the e-accessibility national policy template components and the completion of a practical application on the use of the ADIP interactive toolkits.
  
The Q&As session, moderated by Ms. Sumaya Almajthoob, Associate Social Affairs Officer, included discussions about the coordination mechanism with ESCWA for the adoption of these tools, the training and capacity building on them. ESCWA experts highlighted the importance of the technical cooperation mechanism , through which ESCWA can provide advisory services to member states based on their request and needs.
 

This session included a preparation for a practical application of the ESCWA tools to develop a draft e-accessibility national policy.. Participants were told that they will have the chance to present their work on Day 3 of the ToT.

Showed how a website is designed to be used by all people , with the principle of equal access for-all. Two video clips edited with Arabic caption on the Web accessibility initiative and accessibility perspectives were presented. Also, Mr. Baha Khasawneh, ESCWA consultant explored the different components of Web development and how they interact together to meet the needs of PWD. Then he presented the various technical guidelines, including: WAI, WCAG, ATAG, UAAG, and other internationally recognized standards such as the EU and US standards. More emphasis was given to the WCAG 2.x as the basis of ESCWA technical guidelines.

The four ESCWA technical guidelines and the interactive tools available at the ADIP portal were presented, including explanations of terms, requirements and guidelines and highlights on the different selection of guidelines. Mr. Khasawneh conducted a full walkthrough the first mandatory guideline and the web accessibility minimum requirements and generated a document for the selected guideline and procurement requirements. Finally, participants were asked to use the interactive tools developed by ESCWA to conduct an exercise on determining the requirement for building an accessible website that can be used from a web browser, smartphone, and public kiosks.  

This session introduced the Web accessibility testing techniques and tools. Mr. Khasawneh provided a quick testing approach as a basic step in evaluating minimal accessibility compliance. Two free online evaluation tools, namely WAVE and Achecker, were introduced with complete walkthrough to show the strength of each tool. The main point of the session was to use available tools but a better and comprehensive and thorough evaluation would require human intervention and by hand testing of accessibility rules.

In this session ESCWA templates and its interactive toolkits were put in practice to conduct a full implementation of a comparative analysis of the National Disability Strategy (2014-2018) of Yemen using the ADIP Policy Makers Assistant Tool Template. The main output of this exercise was a fully drafted national policy on e accessibility taking into considerations the main pillars and focus areas of the Yemeni National Disability Strategy (2014-2018).

This session was dedicated to evaluate the outcomes of the exercise conducted by selected participants. Seven participants submitted successful completion of the exercise with great comments on how helpful the tools were. Two participants used all the four guideline templates and produced the tool generated requirement documents. Other participants used one guideline only for a specific disability group. Again, they all provided very positive feedback on the tools design and how easy and helpful it was. One participant with vision impairment could not finish the exercise using the first guidelines using his own screen reader in Arabic, and his comment was taken by ESCWA team , who promised to look at it and find the best solution the soonest. 
 

ESCWA team thanked the participants for their active participation and interaction. Their feedback and recommendations were essential in the process of the improvement of the ADIP platform, especially with regards to the interactive toolkits. Ms. Barbar invited everyone to participate in the “Accessible Arab Region: ICT for All” event that will take place on the 2nd of December 2021. This event is an opportunity to share experience and good practices on ICT accessibility, discuss challenges and approaches to eliminating barriers to ICT access, thus enabling human development, and promote accessibility policies that will improve quality of life universally.


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