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Give people with disabilities access to information technology – Ban Ki-moon

Give people with disabilities access to information technology – Ban Ki-moon

Attitudes towards the world’s 650 million people living with disabilities need to change so that their right to participate fully in the information society is honoured, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today.

In a statement released to mark World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, which will be observed on Saturday, Mr. Ban said, “it is vital that we change attitudes and approaches to persons with disabilities, ensuring that their fundamental rights and freedoms are honoured, including the right to fully participate in the information society.”

Mr. Ban’s statement was also timed to mark the end of a major trade fair on information technology being staged in Egypt by the UN International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

“The phenomenal growth of information and communication technologies (ICTs) over the past 25 years has seen the birth of a dazzling array of new technologies to empower persons with all kinds of disabilities to take active roles in mainstream society,” Hamadoun Touré, Secretary-General of the ITU, said today.

Egypt’s first lady Suzanne Mubarak received an ITU award and made the keynote address, calling for the engagement of children and youth with disabilities as active partners in society from their early years. Mrs. Mubarak also backed the implementation of the Cairo Declaration on Supporting Access to ICT Services for Persons with Disabilities.

Today’s two other ITU prize winners were the DAISY Consortium, which is a worldwide organization of libraries and ICT companies that promotes global standards and technologies that are accessible to people with print disabilities, and Ms. Andrea Saks, who has promoted access to the Internet for people with disabilities and who comes from a family of deaf telecommunications pioneers.

Around 200 companies from 45 countries exhibited products at the trade fair which attracted some 70 heads of international companies and 50 government ministers.

It was also announced that the next ITU global trade fair will be held in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2010.