|Hessa Al -Jaber|
To make ICT more accessible for persons with disabilities, the Supreme Council of Information and Communication Technology (ictQATAR), has introduced the country’s first eAccessibility 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 eAccessibility 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,” said Hessa Al-Jaber, ictQATAR Secretary General.
The primary provisions of the eAccessibility 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 organisations to develop websites and mobile content that can be accessed by persons with disabilities.
- Requiring all public sector organisations, 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 full e-accessibility policy is available here.