Talks on technology services for the disabled

2014-03-25 00:00

ACCESSIBILITY to ICT services for people with disabilities was a key topic at the ICT Policy Green Paper public talks in Durban, yesterday.

Minister of Communications, Yunus Carrim, met with various members of the community for the KwaZulu-Natal leg of the ICT green policy public hearings.

Present at the public discussion were community representatives, members of national, provincial and municipal government and members of the disabled community.

Communications spokesperson Siya Qoza said that the hearings were being held around the country with the aim of government engaging with members of the public to discuss issues that face ICT and accessibility to it.

“The talks were held to basically review the policies of information and communications technology. It was done because with the advancement of technology, the gap between the have and have nots can easily be increased,” Qoza said.

He added that the primary goal of the public talks were to get comments from the community.

“Members of the disabled community raised awareness around the issue that for them the price of accessing ICT products and services was much higher than that of the average person.

“This is because — if for example one had to purchase a computer with voice command software, as a person who is sight impaired may need — the price of this kind of software would be significantly higher than that of normal software needed for a computer,” he said.

Qoza said that the department wanted to insure that no one in the community, whether rich or poor, was left behind.

At the previous public talk held in Polokwane, Carrim discussed that the Internet was a basic human right and that everyone needed access to it.

“Access to Internet has become so important that the United Nations Human Rights Commission has declared that Internet is a basic human right”, said Carrim.

“The UN Broadband Commission is also calling for broadband to be defined as a basic human need and be included as part of the Millenium Development Goals when they are reviewed at the UN next year.”

The policy review process began with the appointment of the ICT Policy review panel in 2012.

The release of the ICT review framing paper in April 2014 sparked the public discussions on the relevance of existing policy, and to gather further contributions and input from the public.

The next leg of the policy hearings are to be held in the Western Cape today, before ending in the North Cape and Free State on Thursday.

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