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The Need to Enhance Internet Access and Use for Challenged People

Did you know the 9th Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Istanbul ,Turkey, held between 2-5 September 2014, under the theme Connecting Continents for Enhanced Multistakeholder Internet Governance?
I was glad to see that both the Dynamic Coalition on Accessibility and Disability (DCAD) meeting and Workshop 99 on digital inclusion policy for the forgotten billion, at the IGF 2014, focused on how to integrate people with disabilities, although it would be better to scale up their participation and relevance at such fora, whether they are participating in situ or remotely, by themselves or by proxy, via advocacy groups.
As critical stakeholders who could influence future Internet governance, appropriate policies at the national, regional and international levels, must be in place to carry people with disabilities along in the scheme of things, particularly on the access and use of ICTs. Such policies must address social, legal, economic and infrastructure… challenges that Internet governance could and actually throws up.
A good case study is in Bangladesh, where concerns on content and applications (apps) development, lack of harmonization of the various platforms for development of functional software, as well as the need for qualified people to manage the ministries and departments of ICT (Silicon Valley) in the country, in addition to putting the appropriate policy, security and legal mechanisms in place to get tech companies integrate flexibility in the design philosophies for their innovation, are being addressed through multistakeholder synergies. One positive outcome of this collaboration is the development of software that aids visually challenged people to browse the Internet.
Government-backed successful programme in Columbia is that the hearing and speech impaired persons talk on the phone for free, where, though, teleworkers are available, the programme is slowed down by the scarcity of translators, who are critical to the programme’s success.
A visually challenged Nigerian, Opeolu Stephen Akinola, recently developed software that makes mobile phone interactive for people with visual disability. That the largest mobile network operator, by subscriber base, MTN Nigeria, bought into the innovation, demonstrates the power of multisectoral synergy in increasing and deepening access for all and has positive impact on the adoption of networks by challenged existing and potential subscribers. See: www.africatelecomit.com/the-road-from-blindness-to-assistive-techno..., www.africatelecomit.com/the-road-from-blindness-to-assistive-techno..., www.africatelecomit.com/digitising-libraries-for-inclusive-governan...
Tigo Tanzania recently promised to give free Facebook access to its customers in East Africa. -www.africatelecomit.com/tigo-to-give-free-facebook-access-in-east-a....
An inclusive Internet must integrate people with disabilities.

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