In 2016, the INIT initiated a collaboration with UNESCO Chair in ICT for Development with the support of Prof. Tim Unwin, (Chairholder, UNESCO Chair on ICT4D) developed a 5 -Year Concept Note for People with Disabilities. Realizing and acknowledging INIT’s contribution in the area of ICTs, the UNESCO Chair joined hands with INIT under its program of ICT4D and INIT entered into this collaboration as an official partner organization with UNESCO Chair in ICT4D.
Under the above said collaborative initiative, the INIT launched research project entitled ‘Development of a Gap Analysis and Roadmap to Meet the Technology Needs of People with Disability and Special Needs in OIC Member States’. The research project was as an impetus to the already developed 5-year concept note in 2016. Mr. David Banes, a leading expert on assistive technologies and the person behind setting up the Mada Center for People with Disabilities in Doha, State of Qatar was also taken on board as a project consultant.
The devised study is based upon the commitments enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with a Disability (UNCRPD) which would provide a framework within which detailed analysis of the role of ICT’s could be completed. The study is aimed at defining the elements of an accessibility infrastructure and review the availability of such elements within and across OIC member states, identifying which states are taking concrete steps to deliver elements of the infrastructure, and how that experience could support emerging services and products in other states.
The data collection tools were developed from June 2017 to September 2017, and the formal data collection and field research was initiated in October 2017 continuing till April 2018. The study is in the process of conducting a gap analysis of the current state of policy across five pilot OIC Member states namely Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Malaysia, Islamic Republic of Pakistan, State of Qatar, and Republic of Tunisia. Policy, resources and initiatives that support the use of ICT by people with a disability in the areas of public policy, awareness and communications, advice and assessment, training and professional development, provision of assistive technologies, technical support availability, e-accessibility and access to digital content, research and development, and innovation.
The INIT Team comprising of Prof. Tim Unwin, Mr. David Banes, Mr. Tahir Naeem, Dr. Akber Gardezi and Mr. Muhammad Atiq-ur-Rehman is involved in the project. Field visits were conducted for a series of semi-structured individual/focus group interviews to assess the current capabilities of the identified stake holders from October 2017 to April 2018. The last visit to the outskirts of Sousse was conducted to revalidate the data collected earlier in November 2017.