International Telecommunication Union publishes report on state of ICT accessibility in Europe

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) recently published a report that outlined the digital inclusion landscape across Europe – a crucial subject explored by thought leaders from across the continent during their ICT 4 ALL - Accessible Europe 2021 conference last week.

Accessible Europe Session 4 Panel: Accessibility Standards for Products and Services - 5 people shown on screen speaking at online event

I was asked to speak on the expert panel (pictured above); 'Accessibility standards for products and services' – part of a programme that greatly assisted in the overall understanding of the current opportunities and challenges when it comes to ensuring that all European citizens can fully engage in their digital lives.

“More than 1600 registered participants and viewers were pleased and enriched by the valuable content that was delivered through your and your fellow speakers’ interventions. The points emerged in the event proved to be very valuable for ITU Members as well as non-Members, cultivating understanding of the current policies and strategies, good practices, and innovative solutions in place, and key actions needed to advance the implementation of ICT accessibility in the Europe region. As the primary goal of the ITU Office for Europe is to support Member States in achieving their national objectives, we look forward to collaborating with you in the future to continue and further enrich the discussion around ICT Accessibility.”

- Jaroslaw K. Ponder (Head of the ITU Office for Europe)

Exploring a more accessible Europe

The ITU is one of several organisations (including AbilityNet) who are endeavouring to explore new ways in which policy, practice and technology can be brought together to enhance the lives of disabled people across Europe.

As well as recognising the importance of conferences such as this (and the likes of AbilityNet's own annual TechShare Pro – the world’s biggest digital inclusion knowledge and networking event) the ITU also realises the importance of reviewing and reporting on the current state of play with regards accessibility across Europe to help highlight the scale of challenge that still exists on a continent where the vast majority of digital services remain far from compliant.

Group of people at TechShare Pro event waving - banner saying Building a digital world accessible to all. www.techsharepro.com

We would recommend downloading the ‘ICT accessibility assessment for the Europe region’ report which ‘Reviews and summarizes the current state of ICT accessibility for persons with disabilities in the ITU Europe region, and assesses commitments and implementation status of ICT accessibility laws, regulations, policies and institutional frameworks across the region’. Unlike many ITU publications, this is a free download.

Further resources

AbilityNet provides a range of free services to help disabled people and older people. If you can afford it, please donate to help us support older and disabled people through technology.