ITU special regional event for Europe: Towards Digitally Accessible Europe, organized by ITU, took place virtually on 03 December 2020, 10.00-12.10 CET. This forum was held within the framework of the Regional Initiative for Europe on “Accessibility, affordability and skills development for all to ensure digital inclusion and sustainable development", adopted by the World Telecommunication Development Conference 2017.
This event was part of ITU's joint efforts with several partner organizations to promote digital accessibility in the European region as well as commemorating the beginning of Accessible Europe 2021 events. It was also held in the context of the International Day of Persons with Disability that aims to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development, and to increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.
In our world today, many people face accessibility barriers due to their health conditions or needs. The current pandemic demonstrates how these people are at higher risk and disproportionately impacted, which underlines the central role of digital solutions in providing inclusive responses to COVID-19.
Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), therefore, pose a vital role for ALL people's empowerment and represent an enabler for an inclusive society. For Persons with Disabilities (PwD), ICTs are essential barrier removers which help them live an independent life, participate in cultural events or political processes, benefit from education or entertainment, or obtain a job.
In this context, the event highlighted stakeholders' strategies and policies in promoting digital accessibility, and provided a platform for European Start-ups and SMEs to highlight the power of digital innovation in the field of accessibility. The outcomes of this forum would further promote the development of accessibility in countries and institutions, through the collective effort and cooperation of stakeholders and through sharing of successful outcomes of projects and initiatives implemented, in order to interchange resources and solutions and make the European region a more inclusive society.
• Ms. Doreen Bogdan, Director, Telecommunication Development Bureau, ITU
Session 1: Digital Accessibility policies and strategies
Setting the context and moderation
- Mr. Jaroslaw Ponder, Head of ITU Office for Europe, ITU, Presentation
- Mrs. Roxana Widmer-Iliescu, Senior Coordinator - Digital Inclusion, BDT, ITU
- Ms. Inmaculada Placencia-Porrero, Senior Expert, Disability and Inclusion Unit, DG for Employment, Social Affairs, and Inclusion, European Commission (EC)
- Mr. Gion Linder, Chair, Access Services Experts Group of European Broadcasting Union (EBU)
- Ms. Catherine Naughton, Director, European Disability Forum
- Mr. Sérgio Belo, Head of Unit, Digital Experience, Administrative Modernization Agency (AMA), Portugal
- Mr. Michael Fembek, Director, Zero Project, Essl Foundation
Session 2: Innovative Digital Solutions for an Accessible Europe
Presentations by start-ups and SMEs advancing digital innovation in the field of accessibility
- Mr. Mark Applin, Founder, Signly, Presentation
- Mr. Tim Murdoch, Co-Founder & CEO, Waymap, Presentation
- Ms. Francesca Fedeli, Founder, Fightthestroke
- Mr. Julien Monnet, Director, Tadeo, Presentation
- Mr. Eduardo Jauregui, CEO & CO-Founder, IRISBOND, Presentation