ITU is the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies (ICT).
The Accessible Americas Conference has been used by the ITU in the Americas Region to raise awareness amongst governments and industry players on the measures necessary to promote digital inclusion and enable persons with disabilities (PwDs), as well as the most vulnerable in society to have equal opportunities and better access to ICTs.
This is the first time the conference is being held in the Caribbean since its inception in 2014. The three-day event will be streamed live on the Jamaica Information Service website www.jis.gov.jm.
Ms. Wahkeen Murray, Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Science and Technology says Jamaica is pleased to be hosting the event.
“The Conference is a knowledge-platform to examine policies, and share measures that encourage PwDs, persons with specific needs, women, girls, the elderly and indigenous groups, access and use of ICT for a more independent life. Jamaica continues to make strides in bridging the technology gap and as host, we will showcase how this is being done,” PS Murray said.
Through provisions of the Telecommunications Act (2000), as well as the work of agencies like the Universal Service Fund (USF) and e-Learning Jamaica Company Limited, members of the most vulnerable in society are supported with equipment and tools to improve their communication and quality of life.
Deleen Powell, Marketing and Public Relations Manager at the USF says there have been significant investments made to ensure the disabled community has access to ICTs.
“The Fund has provided approximately 100-million dollars of support to organizations that cater to the disabled community or persons who are differently abled. Our funding of the Tablets in School project, which is executed by e-Learning Jamaica Company Limited provides equipment to children with special needs. The Fund is also actively developing projects to empower the special needs community through technology,” Miss Powell said.
Brahima Sanou, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau, highlights that ICTs have an important and distinct role to play in the attainment of sustainable development goals.
“In a world in which ICTs play an increasingly important role in socio-economic development, no one should be left behind, regardless of their circumstances or the remoteness of their place of origin," Mr. Sanou said.
In hosting Accessible Americas V, Jamaica is contributing to the fulfilment of inter alia, commitments given under Resolution 58 of the ITU’s World Telecommunication Development Conference-17 and the Buenos Aires Declaration. The commitment seeks to reduce the digital divide, inequalities in ICT access, use and skills, as well as in the availability of accessible and affordable telecommunications/ICT to empower women, girls, PwDs and persons with specific needs.
Jamaica has been an ITU member state since 18 September 1962.
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