New UNESCO Initiative "ICTs and People with Disabilities"
Today marks the launch of a new UNESCO initiative entitled "ICTs and people with disabilities" which is being inaugurated by a two-day expert meeting entitled "ICTs in the service of persons with disabilities", that opens today at UNESCO's Paris Headquarters.
The Expert Meeting entitled "ICTs in the service of persons with disabilities", will bring together global experts and institutions from the public and private sector as well as from civil society to elaborate a concept paper and plan of action. These documents will serve to develop a framework of policy initiatives and pilot projects in this field to be supported by UNESCO in conjunction with key partners.
The resulting recommendations will be included in UNESCO's contribution to the upcoming World Summit on the Information (WSIS) to be held in Geneva (Switzerland) in December 2003.
"The forum has huge potentials to offer greater visibility to the role of ICTs in addressing disability challenges " says project manager Paul Hector of UNESCO. "We hope its helps foster the necessary international commitment to supporting measures that enhance the lives of disabled persons and ensure their inclusion in all aspects of the information society".
ICTs offer individuals the ability to compensate for physical or functional limitations, to access knowledge by adapting digital media to the nature of their disabilities, and to enhance their social and economic integration in communities by enlarging the scope of activities available to them. The actions being initiated by UNESCO, are expected to contribute to improving the standard of living of over 600 million persons around the world; 2/3 of whom live in developing countries; who suffer from a range of mental and physiological disabilities.
A website that will provide a forum for discussion, highlighting news, policies, technologies and other information related to ICTs and disabilities is also being launched today. In developing this website, UNESCO has endeavoured to follow the latest guidelines for the creation of disable-friendly websites so as to enhance the web browsing experience of all users.
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