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Home : ITU-T Home : WTSA-08 : Side Events
 ICT Accessibility Side Event during World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA-08)
 Johannesburg, South Africa, 22 October 2008 Contact:
Diamante Albergati

I became quadriplegic due to a work accident in 2002.

Before my accident I was living with my daughter.

After my accident my daughter had to go and live with her aunt and she could only visit me periodically.

In 2003 I had to move from my home to a medical residential institute called the Sim-Patia Institute where I was told I’d have to stay for the rest of my life due to my physical condition.

As a result I had to give up all my hobbies and interests. I started to isolate myself from others and the world around me.

In 2005 the Sim-Patia Institute was equipped with new computer technology and software provided by QualiLife.

My interest in computer technology as a result of the QualiWORLD system gave me hope and I started to work at the reception desk of the Institute.

Right now, my days are concentrated on physical rehabilitation and the use of the computer.
Specifically I use a personal laptop with QualiWORLD, and I use my head movements to control the mouse.

I am much happier and interested in life and I cannot live without technology anymore.
Because of the computer, I have started to communicate remotely via audio calls offered by QualiWORLD, SMS and E-mails.

I am looking for a home where I can live by myself and have my daughter back with me.
My detailed objectives are now to find an interior balance and mental calm in my life, improve my physical situation, renew my relationships with my daughter and friends and become more independent with advanced technology such as video calls, entertainment, tele-work and home automation.
I believe I can do all of this because of computers and QualiLife.

Now I will show you how I use a computer.
Yasmin Forbes, 
National Technology Officer, Microsoft South Africa

Yasmin Forbes joined Microsoft South Africa as the national technology officer in 2007. It’s a role that sees her responsible for working with government and academic elites on key areas of technology policy – such as security, privacy, economic development, interoperability and open standards, and technical computing.

In a South African context, Yasmin works closely with all levels of the national government across key initiatives such as improving service delivery, skills development and broadening digital inclusion. This gels strongly with her passion for using technology as an enabler of broad scale community development.

Prior joining Microsoft, Yasmin ran her own business consultancy. Before that, she worked for HP South Africa as the branch manager in the Western Cape, as well as the public sector account manager responsible for initiating and developing the high-performance computing business for HP in SA.

Yasmin has also worked at several other leading South African and multinational IT companies, gaining experience in distribution, channel sales, the public sector, oil & gas, education, and new business development.
Claudio Giugliemma, 
CEO Qualilife

Claudio Giugliemma is the founder and CEO of QualiLife Inc., a Swiss company specializing in the development and distribution of award-winning software solutions. With over 20 years of experience in IT development, in the past nine years he has focused on accessibility and usability. In the year 2000, he founded QualiLife; its main goal is to provide a new generation of software solutions that can make all technologies fully accessible to anyone, regardless of age, ability and knowledge.

This new approach has measurably increased the use of computers in several areas, including the home, the work environment, in hospitals, retirement homes, and so on. Claudio Giugliemma believes that technology should serve the people, not the opposite.
Mick Owens, 
ACMA, Australia

Mick Owens has a wealth of experience in communications regulation, gained through over 30 years experience in diverse roles within the Australian Government. Mick has enjoyed working with national and international governments, industry representatives and consumers, providing high-level advisory, technical and practical problem solving assistance.

Over the past two years, Mick has managed ACMA’s International Section and overseen the organisation’s International Training Program. The program attracted participants from around the globe, who had the opportunity to learn first hand about ACMA’s regulatory approach to the contemporary converging communications environment. The program was designed to provide a valuable forum for exchanging ideas, sharing knowledge and discussing future possibilities.

Mick has played a significant role in a number of other key consumer information and technical projects. Working within ACMA’s Consumer Division, he developed a range of practical consumer guides and interactive toolkits on fixed phones, mobiles and the internet. These proved very popular with consumers, providing useful information and advice on selecting the product or service that would best suit their needs.

Mick also worked in an advisory capacity on the Analogue Mobile Phone Closure Information Campaign for Australia, enabling consumers to move seamlessly across from the old analogue mobile phone system to the new digital services.
Hina Patel, South Africa (ITU Member State)

Hina Patel is from the CSIR Meraka Institute and studied Computer Science at the University of Royal Holloway in London. She is currently Strategic Research Manager of the Meraka Institute as well as Competence Area manager for the Information Society R&D area in the Meraka Institute. Ms. Patel has been working in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in disability area since 2003 and is the National Accessibility Portal (NAP) initiative leader. Her work is primarily focussed on strengthening the science and technology base of the Institute in support of its goals to improve quality of life of South Africans and the people of the continent through technology.
Andrea Saks 
Convener, Joint Coordination Activity on Accessibility and Human Factors (JCA-AHF), ITU

Andrea Saks is a known advocate for ICTs for persons with disabilities.

Her father, Andrew Saks, together with James C. Marsters and Robert Weitbrecht were pioneers of deaf telecommunications using surplus teletypewriters and modems – the precursors of textphones and today’s real-time text messaging. She grew in a family of two deaf parents and assisted them from an early age as their interface with the hearing world: getting doctors’ appointments, arranging guests’ visits, etc.

She took that role to the next level when she relocated from the US to the UK in 1972 to promote the use of textphones internationally. She was able to successfully lobby the British Government Post Office (the then-regulator of telecommunications) to allow the first transatlantic textphone conversation (1975) and to grant a license for connection of text telephones on the regular telephone network.

Her first involvement with ITU standardization activity started in 1991 and has ever since increased in scope. Self-funded, she currently attends many ITU-T study group and focus group meetings promoting the inclusion of accessibility functionality in systems being standardized by ITU, such as multimedia conferencing, cable, IPTV and NGN. After the recent creation of ITU-D Q20/1 on accessibility matters by WTDC-06, she also started attending that group and now performs as a bridge between the two sectors on the issue.

She has been a key person in the creation of all accessibility events in ITU, and currently is the convener of the recently formed joint coordination activity on accessibility and human factors, as well as the coordinator of the Internet Governance Forum’s Dynamic Coalition on Accessibility and Disability.


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