Saturday, May 17, 2008

ICT should be accessible, says Ban

ICT should be accessible, says Ban
By Mwila Chansa
Saturday May 17, 2008 [04:00]

INFORMATION and Communication Technology (ICT) equipment and services should be made accessible to meet the needs of persons with disabilities, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has said. And transport and communications minister Dora Siliya observed that as Zambia commemorated the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, it was important to realise that ICT was not the future because the future was already here.

In his message on the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, which falls today, Ban stated that the reach of communication technology was not universal and its benefits had not been shared equally.

"The World Summit on the Information Society held in Geneva in 2003 and Tunis in 2005, linked ICT with human development and called on member states to build a global inclusive, people-centered and development-oriented information society through the sharing of information and knowledge," Ban stated.

He added that the summit also urged member states to address special requirements of persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups and that this year's theme which is ‘Connecting Persons with Disabilities' highlighted the importance of making ICT accessible to persons with disabilities.

"There are an estimated 650 million persons with disabilities worldwide. Including their families, there are nearly two billion persons who are directly affected by disability, almost a third of the world's population," he stated.

Ban added that it was important to remember that anyone could become disabled at any moment.

He called for a change in attitude towards persons with disabilities so that all their fundamental rights and freedoms could be honoured, including the right to fully participate in the information society and bring forth input, ideas and effort from their community.

Ban further urged policymakers and industry leaders to accelerate scientific and technical research aimed at developing technologies that would be inclusive and accessible to all.

"On this day, let us pledge to adhere to the guiding principles of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and work together to connect all human kind equally to the present opportunities and those yet possible in our ever evolving world," stated Ban.
And Siliya said there was need to mainstream ICT in all government services through e-governance and in business through e-commerce.

She said mainstreaming provided real opportunities for the provision of jobs especially for young people.

Siliya also said in countries that had recorded rapid ICT growth, there had been a corresponding growth in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

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