The government is promoting digital inclusion for people with disabilities (PWDs) to enable them to use digital and financial technology services.
To date, around 30 per cent of people with disabilities have been enrolled at the Ghana Digital Center in Accra to acquire the skills and knowledge needed to build their capacity to contribute to national development.
Announcing this at a workshop on digital accessibility for people with disabilities in Accra, Minister of Communications and Digitization Ursula Owusu-Ekuful said that providing people with disabilities with the right skills and providing assistive technology could help them secure jobs.
“We will ensure that all citizens benefit equally and equitably from digital skills, products and services, as we are committed to reducing all forms of the digital divide,” she added.
Topics discussed at the workshop included the importance of digital accessibility for disabled people, interventions, gaps in digital accessibility and solutions to strengthen policies in their endeavor.
Participants came from the National Council on PWDs, various PWD groups, representatives from the Department of Communications and Digitization, the World Bank, the private sector and Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
Also present were some students from the School for the Blind and Deaf in Cape Coast.
Ms. Owusu-Ekuful called on the private sector and development partners to support people with disabilities with technological aids.
She said the provision of materials such as sunscreen, readers, magnifying glasses, transcription and captioning equipment would complement government efforts to advance digital inclusion for people with disabilities.
“I would particularly like to commend the National Council for People with Disabilities for bringing forward proposals for interventions to accelerate the digitization of members’ activities,” added the minister.
Closing the gap
The World Bank Director for Ghana, Sierra Leone and Liberia, Dr. Pierre Laporte said that global development and poverty reduction can only be achieved if the potential of everyone, including people with disabilities, is realised.
He said the voices and potential of the estimated one billion people worldwide living with some form of disability are often ignored as they face exclusion, stigma and discrimination in accessing employment, education, health care and broader development gains be.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated these inequalities as we have become more aware of the digital revolution that has transformed the way we live, learn, connect and work in society.
“We are making progress, but there is still a lot to do. It requires concerted efforts not only from the government or international organizations like the World Bank, but also from the private sector, social entrepreneurs, academia and all citizens of the country,” added Dr. Added Laporte.
The director of the Ghanaian-Indian Kofi Annan Center of Excellence in ICT, Dr. Collins Yeboah Afari said the government’s efforts to achieve the digitization agenda, which includes empowering the individual holistically, have been instrumental in highlighting the ingenuity of people with disabilities.
Executive Secretary of the National Council on Persons with Disability Esther Akua Gyamfi said: “Inaccessibility to government portals, web and online content is a major concern for people with disabilities as such barriers further marginalize them when trying to access information and communications online.” .