Making online services for persons living with disabilities

DPI, Guyana, Thursday, August 15, 2019


Eighteen (18) Information Technology specialists from several government agencies and ministries are now proficient in the National Capacity Building Programme on Web Accessibility.


The initiative especially makes provision for persons living with disabilities.


The week-long programme, is a collaboration between the Ministry of Public Telecommunications (MOPT), the University of Guyana and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).


Web Services Coordinator at MOPT, Jaime Skeete, highlighted that the programme was established by ITU. Also known as the “internet for all” initiative, the objective is to assist its members in acquiring the necessary knowledge and skills to develop and improve ICT accessibility policies and programmes, along with websites in their respective countries.


“The final goal of this programme is for the government to develop accessible websites so that vital information and services provided by public agencies are accessible to all citizens, including persons with disability,” said Skeete.


The training courses are also based on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0). These are developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and are considered as the international best in the field, which is also recommended by the Mobile ICT Accessibility Policy Report.


Participants Mzuri Mascoll from the Mayor and City Council and Remalio Persaud of Ministry of Public Telecommunications spoke about their respective experiences. “The training was very beneficial because before I knew about the accessibility to websites, but I did not know how important it was. So, when the person from the ITU showed us its importance for the websites to be accessible for everyone, I realised we are leaving out a great part of society which is those persons living with disabilities,” Mascoll explained.


Meanwhile, Persaud stated that “the training received was a very enlightening one. I had no idea of how restrictive it is for persons that have disabilities, who do not necessarily have any other option to use the internet… So, the course made me realise that a little input on our part can make the website more friendly for persons living with disabilities.” 


Earlier today, at the small ceremony held for the distribution of certificates to participants, Public Telecommunications Minister, Hon. Catherine Hughes remarked that the programme is among many initiatives undertaken by the ministry aimed at ensuring that all Guyanese are a part of the global and digital world. 


“Sustainable Development Goal Number 9 actually talks about access to the internet. And, in some respects, it’s almost like a human right that it is expected; that each person be able to enjoy and so it is in that context that the Ministry of Public Telecommunications, really got involved with ensuring that we look at how it is we can use technology to better the lives and to improve accessibility for persons living with disabilities,” Minister Hughes underscored.


She added that “this training is very important because with our collaboration with the University of Guyana, we hope that we are going to be able to train more web developers in Guyana, in terms of what they need to embed when they are actually creating the websites, that enables it to be acceptable by the visually or the hearing impaired person… the exciting thing is that I discovered by speaking with an ITU representative that Guyana is making a name in that area. We have started a programme that several developed countries have not yet started.”


The eighteen participants received their certificate at the end of the event.


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