Mada Center launched the “Arab ICT Accessibility Expert Group” the first project of its kind in the Arab world and the region, that aims to unify efforts, localize accessibility standards and apply them to various digital platforms, and establish the first specialized virtual forum. This project comes in confirmation of the Center’s position as the Center of Excellence in digital access in Arabic and it promotes its pioneering role in the development and innovation of ICT accessibility solutions and digital inclusion in the world in Arabic.
This project comes as part of Mada’s efforts at the regional and international levels to reduce the digital gap that may hinder ICT accessibility for persons with disabilities and the elderly in the State of Qatar and the Arab world within the framework of the sustainable development goals and the right to information provided for in the Convention on the Rights of Persons Persons with disabilities of the United Nations Article 9. The article states: “To enable persons with disabilities to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life, States Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure that persons with disabilities have equal access to the surrounding physical environment and means of transportation, information and communication, including information and communication technologies and systems”.
In light of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the rapid development of technology and artificial intelligence, the adoption of international standards in the Arabic language has become a priority to provide regulatory framworks for stakeholders, policymakers, researchers, academics, and Arab digital content makers in the field of ICT in order to produce and develop projects and products to support persons with disabilities and the elderly.
In her statement, Mrs. Maha Al-Mansoori, CEO of Mada Center, said, “There is no doubt that when we at Mada Center implement projects that would enhance digital access and ICT in the Arab region and the world, we always do that in consultation with a group of Arab experts, specialists, stakeholders, and workers in the field of digital access in Arabic from various Arab countries to ensure the quality of services and products directed at serving PWDs and the elderly.”
The “Arab ICT Accessibility Expert Group” has started working on many projects since 2020 through remote meetings in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, to enhance the understanding of terms related to digital access within the Mada Dictionary project as well as contribute to the translation and revision of the “Web Content Accessibility Guidlines(WCAG2.1)” in Arabic which were approved by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) for the first time in the world.
To date, this group includes 70 members from 23 Arab countries from various academic and research fields, governmental and non-profit institutions, major companies, and regional and international organizations in the field of ICT. The scope of this group’s work revolves around providing consultations on ICT access in the Arabic language, which is discussed through the Arab Experts Group’s electronic portal, where there is a virtual hub created specifically for exchanging opinions and expanding members’ experiences through virtual seminars in which they talk about the latest and best global practices in this field.
Through the expert group portal developed and launched by Mada, available online to the public, Arab experts discuss a range of topics, exchange experiences and consultations on several proposals and recommendations that include improving policies, strategies, programmes, activities, research projects, the development of ICT accessibility standards in Arabic to improve the lives of PWDs and the elderly and promote independent living for them.
These projects emphasize the importance of the regional and global role of the State of Qatar in the field of digital access, as the State of Qatar ranked first in the world according to the DARE Index 2020, issued by the Global Initiative for Information and Communication Technology, G3ict. The active role Mada Center plays in the field of enhancing ICT accessibility in Arabic is highlighted in its strategy that seeks to provide the best practices and global standards to stakeholders.
You can join the group of experts and find more information through the portal at the link aiaeg.mada.org.qa