Muscat, Dec 1 - Oman was ranked among the top 10 performers globally and first regionally in Digital Accessibility Rights Evaluation (DARE) index conducted by G3ict, the Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs, which aims to benchmark digital accessibility for disabled people. The DARE Index, in its first edition, surveyed 121 countries, rankings and analysis aimed at providing global benchmarks for disability advocates, governments and private sector organisations to assess their progress and identify opportunities in implementing digital accessibility for disabled people.
DARE Index score is based on country commitments, capacity to implement and actual outcomes in digital accessibility for disabled persons. It indicates the overall progress and momentum of a country in implementing digital accessibility as per the ICT accessibility dispositions of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (PwD). Oman’s achievement in digital accessibility is an outcome of the existing legislations, laws and policies issued over the last 10 years, since 2008 as well as the efforts by government, private organisations and non/governmental organisations under the leadership of the Information Technology Authority (ITA).
Digital accessibility and inclusion was at the top of ITA’s agenda, programmes and projects. The work on digital empowerment started back in 2008 when ITA recognised the importance of making the main portal in Oman fully accessible to enable all citizens and residents of different segments to access the available information and use electronic services.
After ITA ensured the accessibility of its website, in 2009, it started to spread awareness among government entities to enable PwDs access their websites. It introduced government and private organisations to the international best practices and standards. In addition, in 2009, under the eSociety development, ITA implemented a number of training programmes in using ICT and assistive technologies for PwD.
In 2010, ITA included web accessibility as main criteria in eContent category in His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Award for Excellence in eGovernment.
In 2012, ITA, in cooperation with G3ICT, Formulated the eAccessibility Policy followed by rolling out an awareness campaign on eAccessibility issues for government and private organisations for 10 sectors.
In 2013 onward, the ITA laid emphasis on digital inclusion by the issuance of a circulation about the inclusion of eAccessibility in the eTransformation Plans of government entities.
Furthermore, ITA supported government and private entities in implementing the best practices and guidelines to make websites and services accessible by PwD along with offering user accessibility testing for websites and applications.
It is worth to note that the results of DARE Index reflect the significant level of commitment towards the rights of persons with disabilities and their inclusion digitally made by Oman. Digital accessibility is the extent to which an ICT-based product, tool, information or service can be used by persons with disabilities and the elderly people as effectively as it can be used by a person without disability.