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Govt plans ICT, telecom services for differently abled

KATHMANDU, NOV 08 -

If things go as planned, even people with disabilities like blindness and deafness will be able to use mobile phones from the next year.

The Nepal Communications Authority (NTA), in technical support from International Telecommunication Union (ITU), is preparing to implement a project to this effect.

With advancement in Information and Communication Technology (ICT), mobile phones have made it possible for persons with disabilities to communicate effectively and access information and services on the internet in many countries.

For example, blind persons are able to access text service using voice-based applications. In the initial phase, the project will be implemented as pilot in a specific area or group of people, according to NTA officials. However, the implementation modality will be decided after discussions with stakeholders.

ITU is preparing a report to identify gaps and make recommendations for policy and regulatory initiatives in Nepal to implement ICT accessibility for people with disabilities.

At a press conference here on Thursday, Senior Advisor at ITU Regional Office for Asian and the Pacific, Sameer Sharma, said Nepal has to use Rural Telecommunication Development Fund (RTDF) for resources to promote and implement the project.

The draft report prepared by Sharma and expert Nilima Narasimhan is being presented at a National Workshop to be held on Friday in the Capital. The report has stressed the sustainability of RDTF as a source of funding for rolling out accessibility related projects in rural areas. The government has over Rs 5.5 billion in RDTF. “RTDF resources can be utilised for this type of project with amendment in the telecom policy,” said Ananda Raj Khanal, director and acting chief of NTA.

NTA officials said the government had no other options, but to implement the project, with Nepal being a signatory of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The convention assures basic human rights for people with disabilities, including right to education, and recognises ICT as a critical tool to realise these rights.

Posted on: 2012-11-09 09:15


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