Digital inclusion and accessibility

14 Nov 2018 11:30h - 12:45h

Event report

[Read more session reports and live updates from the 13th Internet Governance Forum]

The session discussed the issues and challenges hindering access and digital inclusion and tried to determine how to overcome the barriers to effective use of infomation technology (ICT) and the Internet for an inclusive society.

The moderators of the session were Mr Eldrid Jordaan, CEO, GOVCHAT, South Africa, and Ms ​Marilyn Cade, CEO, mCADE LLC, former MAG member.

In the first segment on digital inclusion, Ms Nilmini Rubin, Vice President, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Executive Vice President, Tetra Tech, spoke of the work being done by Tetra Tech to improve together access to electricity and to the Internet. She spoke of the need to address the challenges of inclusion of women. This should happen from the inception in the regulatory policies.

Mr Charles Shaban, Executive-Director, Abu-Ghazaleh Intellectual Property, Jordan, spoke of the need to adopt new technologies and services, such as using wireless to reach far flung regions and the importance of local languages to improve inclusion. For overcoming cultural barriers to access, he suggested the need for focusing on education and awareness.

Ms Nathalie Vuaillat, Director, Legal Counsel, eBay, told how the organisation is using technology to connect people and build opportunities for everyone, including small businesses. She spoke about the development programmes to encourage women entrepreneurs and suggested collaboration between government and business to address issues of inclusion.

Mr Adil Sulieman, Senior Policy Manager, African Union, described the Policy Regulation Initiative for Digital Africa (PRIDA), that is focused on spectrum harmonisation, capacity building for member states on Internet governance, and building a digital platform for regulators. He highlighted the initiative to use post offices to provide information and ICT services, and work being done with the Internet Society (ISOC) on community networks to reach remote areas.

The second segment discussed digital accessibility. Mr Mohammad Najeeb Azizi, Chairman, Afghan Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (ATRA), spoke of the need to create awareness of the importance of ICT within different government departments. Affordability of access is the biggest challenge in Afghanistan and the solutions lie in infrastructure sharing and co-sharing, promoting wi-fi hotspots, and  more public private partnerships. He highlighted the work being done for encouraging access among the disabled. 

Ms Ankhi Das, Director of Public Policy, Facebook, spoke of learning needs of people with cognitive differences, and initiatives of Facebook to address issues related to physical impairment such as video captioning, She also spoke about Teach Access initiatives.

Responding to a question she highlighted Facebook’s work on building linguistic capabilities in local languages, engaging with communities, and the safety features being provided to protect online users.

Mr Carlos Rey-Moreno, Association for Progressive Communications(APC), South Africa, spoke of the community development initiative. There is a need to use different technologies and ways to connect people. He stressed the need to create awareness about new technologies,  and benefit of community networks.It is important  to connect people among regulators and governments, and to build trust in them about these new initiatives. 

Ms Bunmi Durowoju, Senior Business Development Manager, Emerging Markets  AI and Intelligent Cloud Airband Initiative, Microsoft, spoke of the Microsoft mission and that technology will continue to be an enabler. She highlighted the need to ensure that policies and regulations are able to keep up with innovations. Responding to a question on using public access facilities such as libraries, she agreed that it is important to think of new technologies such as white spaces, and access points on getting people online.


By Amrita Choudhury