13 April 2014
ICT Minister Inaugurates ICT for PWDs Conference

The Minister of Communications and Information Technology Atef Helmy has inaugurated today the third annual ICT for People with Disabilities (PWDs) Conference: Integration, Empowerment, Participation which is held on April 13, 14.

Under the auspices of the Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab, the conference is organized by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) in line with the State’s keenness to empower and integrate PWDs into the community to benefit of their capabilities and innovations, which will largely contribute to reach the future of the country.

This is achieved through a work system the country would implement in the coming period where all earnest and effective contributions are necessary to cross to a broader horizons for the benefit of future generations.

The conference this year  witnessed a large local and international presence, with the participation of around 15 Arab and foreign countries, in addition to effective participations of figures and organizations representing the civil  society dedicated for serving people with disabilities.

The inaugural was attended by Cairo governor, Mostafa El-Said, Marsa Matrouh governor, Badr Tantawy, Ismailia governor, Ahmed El-Kasas, among a group of prominent figures such as the EU ambassador to Cairo, James Moran, ITU- standardization sector head, Malcom Johnson, the National Council for Disabilities Affairs, Hossam EL-Massah, in addition to an elite of Egyptian universities presidents and officials of Fayoum, Kafr El-Sheikh, El-Dakahlia, Sharqiya, Kena, Behara, Souhag, Luxor governorates.

In the opening speech, Helmy announced the first experience to turn MCIT  to a highly accessible premises for visual impaired people through the use of one of Tamkeen wining projects launched by the Ministry last year.

This is  a model to be followed by other ministries and government entities during the coming period. 2014 Constitution granted unprecedented rights to PWDs; while MCIT was a pioneer in taking serious measures to enhance PWDs affairs in Egypt.

The advisor to ICT Minister for Community Services Dr. Abeer Shakweer, said that the Ministry would implement the ICT Strategy for Social Responsibility launched in 2013 during Cairo ICT, in partnership with the private sector, the civil society and MCIT affiliates. This is after the successful endeavors to provide support for empowering PWDs in different fields using ICT.

Many significant issues were raised during the conference. Malcom Johnson tackled the means to make ICT accessible for all. In another session, the regional experiences were tackled to activate the enabling tools to empower PWDs. Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (ALECSO) director manager, Mohamed El-Gamni and the Minister Plenipotentiary at the League of Arab States tackled the tunisian ICT experience in the field.

The professional qualification and disabilities expert, Maher Helmy Risha showcased the Palestinian experience. Hind Shakweer, member of the Arab Union for Hearing Impaired crystalized the ICT as a tool to enhance hearing impaired people Arabic language skills in Saudi Arabia. Suzanne Shur and Melissa Nice showcased a package of accessibility programs to PWDs at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

IBM Egypt research center manager, Osama Imam tackled the research projects of the company for technological accessibility. The Jordanian experience was showcased by Jordan Star for Hearing impaired People association manager, Khaleda Soweilam. The Sudanese experience was presented by Abeer El-Helaly, manager of the Professional Qualification Center for PWDs. The International Labor Organization represented by Amal Mowafi, showcased the role of ICT in employment in the Arab region.

Today’s events witnessed the honoring of MCIT to different fellowship graduates provided to PWDs. 8 ICDL graduates were honored as a model for 109 graduates up till now. 56 graduates of training for employment initiative were honored too, they joined ICT companies through the cooperation agreement between MCIT and the ICT industry chamber, in addition to honoring 4 leading ICT companies who has PWDs employees among them, and honoring the ICT industry chamber for their tremendous efforts to hire more PWDs in the job market.

The attendees also visited the exhibition organized among the events of the conference including the ICT companies especially those developing software for PWDs which won during Tamkeen competition organized by MCIT last year.

A number of NGOs providing special software for different disabilities were showcased, besides the six winning projects at Tamkeen competition this year; they would be funded by MCIT with a budget of 500 thousand EGP, first of its kind in Arabic language, a matter that opens new opportunities to create a new informatics market in Egypt and the Arab region in the interest of all.

More discussions are to take place next day including: the education integration using technology tools, research and innovation and funding opportunities, ICT and Job market opportunities, honorable models of ICT usage for the integrating society, integrating PWDs in the working system, ICT and the educational integration for autism kids.

A preparatory workshop entitled “employment integration for PWDs” took place yesterday with sponsorship of the International Labor Organization and in partnership with Egypt, Arab and Europe experts.

It is noteworthy that the ITU considered Egypt’s experience in using IT tools for the benefit of PWDs as a leading experience to be followed by others, a matter that ascertains Egypt’s leadership in the field.

During the occasion, TE, through its internet provider, TE Data, launches Ma’ak (With You) initiative to provide customer care services in sign language. The initiative started with employing and training 10 disabled candidates to qualify them to provide excellent service with video-call technique through TE official website, thus providing a reliable tool of communication for TE customers and help their integration into the society.

The conference is sponsored by the League of Arab States, the International Labor Organization, and the European Union which participates for the second time consecutively since launched in 2012.

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