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Thursday, March 23, 2006

ITU to examine access to disables

*In next 4 yrs

PROGRAMMES of the global telecommunications regulator and agency of the United Nations (UN), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), would in the next four years include a new study that would examine access to telecommunication services for the people with disabilities.

The development is coming as the 2006 World Telecommunications Development Conference (WTDC-06) ended in Doha, Qatar, with a six-point agenda to connect the world in the next nine years, which is by 2015.

ITU said "work programme for the next four years now includes a subject of study to examine the question of access to telecommunication services for people with disabilities".

In what the assembly declared as Doha Action Plan adopted at the end of eight-day meeting, a road map to implement the global objectives of harnessing the power of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) to give development a leap.

Presided over by the chairman of ICTQatar, Dr. Hessa Al-Jaber, the confab organized by ITU, went through lots of debates, coming out with the programmes to act as catalyst in achieving this process.

Namely the regulatory reform, information and communication infrastructure and technology, electronic strategies (e-strategies) and ICT applications, economic and financing including cost and tariffs in addition to human capacity building, Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Emergency Telecommunications.

As said by ITU, it would encourage actions to be taken on women, youth and children, indigenous people and communities, people with disabilities and communities living in underserved areas and become important tools for achieving universal access.

ITU’s also said the programme for the next four years now includes a new subject of study to examine the question of access to telecommunication services for people with disabilities.

On recent spate of natural disasters and calamities mostly in developing countries, the programme for LDCs and SIDS has been expanded to include emergency telecommunications.
The component on emergency telecommunications of six-point programme, ITU noted, is aimed at benefiting those who are the most vulnerable during natural disasters, especially when they are caught in an information and communication vacuum.

In implementing this programme, ITU expects to develop ICT-based solutions directed at improving early-warning communication, disaster preparedness and mitigation in LDCs and SIDS.

"Emergency telecommunications is a critical area for these countries with fragile economies and special needs," the global regulator said.

Other subjects of study, ITU said in a press statement made available to Business Champion, would include the impact of telecommunication development on the creation of employment, and securing information and communication networks for best practices for developing a global culture of cyber security.

On regulation, ICT infrastructure and LDCs and emergency, ITU pointed out that isolated and poorly served regions have been expanded to include indigenous communities. Cross-cutting activities have been reaffirmed on developing statistics and ICTs as well as on partnerships and promotion.

The Doha Action Plan also sets out the nuts and bolts for regional initiatives, aimed at integrating development activities into longer-term projects that have the greatest potential to impact the development process.

The regional initiatives spell out the aims and expected results for each. By consensus, each region agreed to group their initiatives under five categories and to select the top five projects that best met the region’s priorities.

Armed with an effective package that focus on deliverables and deployable across several states, countries will be better positioned to attract the type of large-scale investment required for many of the projects at their domain.

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