The Second Annual Conference and Exhibition on Communications and Information Technology for People with Disabilities: Inclusion, Empowerment and Participation in Cairo, Egypt – April 2nd and 3rd 2013
In April 2013 my daughter Sara Ruh (born with Down syndrome) and I were invited to speak and represent G3ict by the office of the International Labor Organization of Egypt. We were very proud to represent G3ict (www.G3ict.org) because of the campaign it orchestrates all over the world to promote accessible Information and Communications Technologies and include people with disabilities in society. G3ict – the Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies – is an Advocacy Initiative of the UN GAID, the United Nations Global Alliance for ICT and Development, launched in December 2006 in cooperation with the Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at UN DESA.
I have always been impressed with G3ict’s mission because if we do not make Information, Technology and Communications (ICT) accessible the digital divide continues to widen for People with Disabilities (PwD). G3ict also supports the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. “According to the UN there is an estimated one billion persons living with disabilities worldwide, making accessible and assistive ICT solutions a priority for industry, users, and policy makers and representing both a major Human Rights milestone and a considerable market driver for Assistive and Accessible ICTs.” Source: G3ict
Our host the International Labor Organization (ILO) in Egypt is working on a program called Decent Jobs for Egypt’s Young People. The ILO is fully committed to the inclusion of people with disabilities in the workforce and labor pool. To learn more about this program and other ILO activities in the region please visit: http://www.ilo.org/cairo/
We were very impressed with the caliber of speakers, efficiency of the conference, and the amazing exhibitors in the exhibit hall. We have visited many countries but the people of Egypt are some of the nicest, most amazing people you will ever have the pleasure to meet.
The conference hosted by H.E. the Egyptian Minister of Communications and Information Technology presented The Second Annual Conference and Exhibition on Communications and Information Technology for People with Disabilities: Inclusion, Empowerment and Participation. The international conference was held in Smart Village Convention Center in beautiful Cairo, Egypt on April 2nd and 3rd 2013.
Leaders from all over Egypt came to support and speak at the conference. Dr. Abeer, Shakweer, Advisor to the Minister of Communications and Information for Social Services opened the conference with exciting news of how the ministry will create an education and employment program for people with disabilities. The audience was impressed with the plan and excited to support the efforts.
Other Egyptian leaders included Dr. Abdelsatter Shaaban, Advisor to the Minister of Education for Special Education, Eng. Saed Al-Hamelly, CEO at Etisalat, Eng. Ahmed Aly Ahmed Aly, Govenor of El Fayoum, Dr. Mohamed Fouad Gad Alla, Advisor to the President for Legal Affairs, H. E. Ambassador James Moran, EU Ambassador to Egypt, H.E. Dr. Mostafa Mosaad, Minister of Higher Ed
ucation and H.E. Eng. Atef Helmy, Minister of Communications and Information Technology.
It was inspiring to watch the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Minister of Communications and Information Technology and the Ministry of Higher Education on the technological development of People with Disabilities (PwD) centers at public Universities in Egypt.
The audience cheered as the Minister of Communications and Information Technology, H.E. Eng. Atef Helmy presented Awards of Excellence to PwD and others supporting PwD’s in Egypt.
The conference was an international conference with representatives and speakers from all over the world including Egypt, India, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Qatar, USA and others. The conference was fast paced, interactive and innovative. It was wonderful witnessing all the countries coming together to share ideas and support each other to include and empower PwD. This conference continues to prove that the Middle East is committed to the inclusion of people with disabilities.
Topics included information about Assistive Technology, Accessibility and Universal Design. We also spoke about different disability types including supporting people that are blind, vision loss, deaf, hard of hearing, mobility, physical, intellectual and cognitive impairments and multiple disabilities. The focus on the conference was inclusion and empowerment. How do we include people with disabilities in employment, education and every other aspect of society!
Sara and I spoke about our efforts to include people with disabilities in employment. Plus we spoke about Sara’s transition from school to employment. We also had the honor to provide a presentation about G3ict’s efforts to assure everyone has access to accessible ICT.
The exhibit hall had many amazing exhibitors from all over the region but I must confess that we fell in love with the young people from the Egyptian Association for Sophisticating the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (Asdaa). These young people are focused on Robotic Inventions that will help people with disabilities and senior citizens. Their enthusiasm for their inventions and their desire to make the world a better place for everyone was infectious. If these young people are any indication of the brilliance of the youth in Egypt then it is going to be interesting to see how they change the world for the better in the future. I would love to see Asdaa come over the United States and partner on robotic projects with Deaf and Hard of Hearing Associations.
This conference sets the bar high for other international conferences on inclusion and empowerment. Egypt is a lovely country and the people were welcoming, inviting and gracious. Sara and I look forward to returning to this amazing country very soon. We also wish them great success in their continued efforts to include people with disabilities in their society.