Information Technology is a Key Element in Promoting Equal Opportunities for People with Disabilities
The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) today (13 December 1999) launched an Interregional Seminar and Symposium on International Norms and Standards Relating to Disability, in partnership with the United Nations and the Centre for Comparative and Public Law of the University of Hong Kong.
In her welcoming speech to the participants at the opening ceremony, Ms. Anna WU, Chairperson of the EOC said, "The issue of information accessibility not only concerns basic human rights but also is fundamental to the empowerment of people with disabilities."
Ms. WU said, "As society becomes more and more digitalized and electronic communication through the Internet rapidly popularized, inaccessibility to the Internet will result in people with disabilities becoming quickly marginalized."
In delivering his keynote speech at the opening ceremony, Dr. E.K. Yeoh, Secretary for Health & Welfare, echoed the importance of accessibility of new and emerging information technology and telecommunications to people with disabilities.
Dr. Yeoh quoted the examples of hands-free operation through voice driven software which enabled many people with physical disabilities to operate computers.
"Telephones with amplified head-sets assist those who are hard of hearing. E-mail, and instant messaging via text, help put individuals with speech or hearing impairment on a level playing field with other members of society." Dr. Yeoh added.
Noting that the Hong Kong Government are planning to widely promote the use of information technology, both in the provision of public services and in commercial activities, Ms. WU called on the Government to take into account the needs of people with disabilities and other disadvantaged at the design stage in the development of new technologies.
The 5-day International Seminar will last from 13 to 17 December 1999. Over 50 overseas and local experts will examine a wide range of issues relating to policy design, legislation, planning and evaluation, capacity building and new approaches to definitions of disability.
A two-day training workshop on disability rights advocacy will be conducted with on-line interaction between local workshop participants and a trainer based in the United States on 14 and 15 December 1999.
In addressing the question of accessibility to information technology, a special session on information technology will be conducted on 16 December 1999.
Speakers of the special session include Mr. Graham BRANT of Microsoft Hong Kong, Dr. LU Qin and Professor Arthur MAK of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, as well as Mr. CHONG Chan-yau of the Joint Council for the Physically and Mentally Disabled.
Enquiry: EOC Hotline 25118211