The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) on 3 December, celebrated the International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2018. In an article published on ITU’s news page, it was underscored that this year’s theme of ‘Empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality’, resonated with the ITU’s efforts to empower persons with disabilities (PwD) through information and communication technologies (ICTs).
The article went on to site features such as captioning, screen-readers, assistive robotics technologies, and navigational tools as examples of how ICTs can provide opportunities and benefits for people with visual, hearing or motor disabilities and persons with specific needs to overcome difficulties in going about their most ordinary everyday activities.
Internet access is growing rapidly, yet large groups of people remain unconnected to the Internet. As of 2015, about 43% of people had access to the Internet (in developing countries only 34%). Access to ICTs is part of the Sustainable Development Agenda, which commits to ‘significantly increase access to ICTs and strive to provide universal and affordable access to the Internet in least developed countries by 2020’ (Goal 9.c).
The need for people to gain access to ICT resources and narrow the digital divide is crucial, and is especially relevant now in the light of the Sustainable Development Goals. It is also important to understand how access to the Internet affects the level of economic and social development in a country.