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Oman ranked third in MENA, 16th globally for digital accessibility; Qatar tops list

14 Oct 2020

Oman has been ranked third in Middle East and North Africa, and 16th globally in the Digital Accessibility Rights Evaluation Index – DARE Index 2020. 

The DARE Index is a benchmarking tool for disability advocates, governments, civil society, international organisations and policy makers to trace country progress in making Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) accessible for all, in compliance with Article 9 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

Qatar tops the list followed by Australia, Israel, Italy, South Africa, France, Ireland, Brazil, United States and Malta. 

Developed by Canada-based Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies (G3ict), the index documents the advances made by 137 countries, among the 182 States Parties to the CRPD.

The report mentions that Oman has ratified many international agreements on the rights of persons with disabilities and has issued relevant local laws and policies. ‘The Ministry of Social Development is responsible for the welfare of persons with disabilities. The Information Technology Authority (now under the Ministry of Transport, Communications and IT) is the body responsible for implementing national IT infrastructure projects and supervising all projects related to implementation of the Digital Oman Strategy while providing professional leadership to various other e-Government initiatives of the sultanate. 

‘It has also included accessibility as part of the national programme – eGovernment Transformation Plan – for transforming the country digitally. Most importantly, it provides IT training programmes for people with disabilities. Also, it has issued the e-Accessibility Policy to regulate  ICT inclusion of the persons with disabilities and define the guidelines of web accessibility.’

Axel Leblois, president of G3ict, said, “The results of the DARE Index 2020 demonstrate the considerable advances of digital accessibility advocacy as a majority of countries are now implementing policies and programmes in application of Article 9 of the CRPD. The DARE Index 2020 also points to gaps in their implementation and proven solutions to overcome those.”

The DARE Index 2020 shows consistent efforts and improvements countries have made in terms of progress and compliance with country laws, regulations and policies. 

The ratification of CRPD has clearly been a success among the countries surveyed in the DARE Index 2018; 93 per cent of the countries have ratified it. 

For instance, 88 per cent have general legislation protecting the rights of Persons with Disabilities, a remarkable progress achieved in a 16 year period. Similarly, legal definitions such as ‘Reasonable Accommodation’ and ‘A Definition of Accessibility that includes ICTs,’ which merely existed in countries legislation prior to the CRPD launch, are now present in 68 per cent and 61 per cent of the countries surveyed for the DARE Index respectively.

The DARE Index 2020 score includes points corresponding to the three categories of variables measured: country commitments, capacity to implement and actual outcomes in digital accessibility for persons with disabilities.

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