Qatar’s success in achieving very high e-Accessibility rates shows the country’s commitment to providing access to information and communication technologies (ICTs) for persons with disabilities on an equal basis.
The rate of e-Accessibility in Qatar has reached 91%, thus becoming the first among Arab and regional countries and the best in the world, HE the Minister of Transport and Communications Jassim Seif Ahmed al-Sulaiti announced recently.
Internationally, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, prepared by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), provide standards for web accessibility.
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which came into force in May 2008 draws attention to the need to ensure access to ICTs for persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others and will help to eliminate barriers to information, including through the Internet. At the national level, laws and regulations can promote compliance with accessibility standards.
As Minister al-Sulaiti highlighted it is a matter of pride that Qatar spares no effort to invest in technology not only for normal persons but also for people with disabilities who need these compensatory means to make their lives easier at all stages from childhood to the elderly.
The Ministry of Transport and Communications is moving rapidly on the path of investing in e-Accessibility and paying attention to all segments of society, whether in ordinary technology or assistive technology (AT).
At this juncture, the efforts of Mada (Qatar Assistive Technology Centre) need to be mentioned.
The non-profit organisation, established by the Ministry of Transport and Communications, is dedicated to connecting people with disabilities to the world of information and communication technology. Every day, the Mada team works closely with disabled people, caregivers, and professionals by providing expert advice and assessment on a wide variety of Assistive Technologies that cater to persons with physical, hearing, visual, and learning disabilities.
Qatar is among the few countries in the world that have a comprehensive e-Accessibility Policy in place.
The policy aims to ensure people with disabilities in Qatar have equal access to the technologies that can enrich their lives, and covers a range of e-Accessibility issues, including websites, telecommunications services, handsets, ATMs, government services, access to assistive technologies and digital content.
The policy balances the needs of the differently-abled community in Qatar with practical implementation requirements, thereby allowing organisations and relevant government bodies to enact the policy without undue burden.
Qatar’s e-Accessibility Policy has been developed in consultation with numerous stakeholder groups, and makes it one of the most progressive countries in the region in terms of bringing the benefits of technology to people with disabilities.
The use of ICTs, such as the Internet, is rapidly becoming an essential part of the economic, educational and social life of many people today. Therefore it is vital that websites can be used by all, so that persons with disabilities have the same access to information as everyone else.
Qatar’s strides in the field show that ICT can be made an empowering and enabling tool to help improve the lives of people with disabilities.
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