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ictQATAR Introduces National e-Accessibility Policy
New Policy Aims To Make ICT More Accessible for Persons with Disabilities
ictQATAR Introduces National e-Accessibility Policy to make ICT more accessible for persons with disabilities.
The Supreme Council of Information and Communication Technology (ictQATAR) took a major step towards ensuring all of Qatar experiences the full benefits of technology today with the introduction of the Qatar’s first e-Accessibility Policy.
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 is effective immediately and ictQATAR will oversee the implementation of the policy across sectors and monitor progress.
“For many people with disabilities, information and communication technology can be a tremendously empowering and enabling tool, however, if these technologies are not fully accessible, they may actually become tools of exclusion or isolation. Qatar’s e-Accessibility Policy, which was developed in consultation with numerous stakeholder groups, will make Qatar one of the most progressive countries in the region in terms of bringing the benefits of technology to people with disabilities. The policy balances the needs of the disabled community here with practical implementation requirements, thereby allowing organizations and relevant government bodies to enact the policy without undue burden,” said Dr. Hessa Al-Jaber, ictQATAR Secretary General.
The primary provisions of the e-Accessibility Policy include:
- Requiring telecommunications service providers to provide accessible handsets, user interfaces, relay services, special rate plans, emergency services and accessible public payphones where appropriate.
- Requiring public sector organizations to develop websites and mobile content that can be accessed by persons with disabilities.
- Requiring all public sector organizations, including government owned banks, to implement service improvements that will ensure that public access terminals/kiosks and ATMs are available at strategic locations and usable by people with low vision blindness, deaf or hearing impairments, physical disabilities and reading problems.
- Requiring Qatar’s Assistive Technology Center (Mada) to establish a fund to improve access to assistive technologies (AT) and services, encouraging the wide spread procurement of ATs, spreading awareness of the available services and benefits of ATs and providing demonstrations, special training and evaluations.
- Calling to action all producers and distributors of digital media in Qatar to improve the accessibility of their content through accessible eBooks, online information and special captioning for video programming.
“The introduction of Qatar’s e-Accessibility Policy is a major milestone for people with disabilities in Qatar. Mada is committed to working with ictQATAR and other organizations in Qatar to help in implementing this comprehensive policy. Mada will offer practical assistance to any company, ministry or organization that has a role to play in ensuring that the targets set in the plan are delivered. This is an exciting step forward for people with a disability in Qatar” said Maha Al Mansouri, Head of Training and Education at Mada. Mada was one of more than 30 organizations that provided input into the development of the policy, including government agencies, corporations and not-for-profit organizations serving people with disabilities.
Qatar’s e-Accessibility Policy supports numerous national initiatives in Qatar, including the Qatar National Development Strategy 2011-216 and Qatar’s General Family Strategy. The policy also supports Qatar’s obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, of which Qatar is a signatory.
The full e-Accessibility Policy is available at this link.