UN Calls For Standardizing Accessibility Technologies For The Disabled - InformationWeek

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12/4/2006
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UN Calls For Standardizing Accessibility Technologies For The Disabled

The UN observed its International Day of Persons with Disabilities by holding panel discussions on Web accessibility and launching an initiative to standardize information technologies for people with disabilities.

The United Nations is renewing focus on improving Internet access and technology standards for people with disabilities, while calling for standardization of accessibility technologies for IT.

The UN observed its International Day of Persons with Disabilities Monday by holding panel discussions on Web accessibility and launching an initiative to standardize technologies for people with disabilities.

"Access to information and communication technologies creates opportunities for all people, perhaps none more so than persons with disabilities", UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said through a prepared statement.

"As the development of the Internet and [Information and Communication Technologies Task Force] takes their needs more fully into account, the barriers of prejudice, infrastructure and inaccessible formats need no longer stand in the way of participation," he said.

Though people with disabilities have made great strides, they still face many obstacles on the Internet, especially because of Web sites that do not provide options for people who are blind, visually impaired or unable to operate a mouse, the UN media office pointed out in a statement released Monday.

The UN also announced that it is launching a Global Initiative for Inclusive Technologies. The initiative aims to lower production costs of technologies for disabled people, the same way the standardization of microchips reduced production costs from $45 to $3. The initiative will be led by the UN Global Alliance for ICT and Development and the Digital Inclusion Forum, a division of the Boston-based Wireless Internet Institute.

It is one of several UN efforts to ensure that disadvantaged groups are not left behind during the Information Age.

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