2006 Conference General Sessions


James Thurston
Information Technology Industry Council (ITI)
1250 Eye Street, NW Suite 200
Washington DC 20005

Day Phone: 202-626-5721
Fax: 202-638-4922
Email: jthurston@itic.org

The Opportunity for Global Harmonization: The need for accessible information technology is acute across the globe. According to a 2001 United Nations report, there are approximately 600 million people with disabilities worldwide. The global number of people with disabilities and age-related limitations is destined to grow as the population ages. In response to this reality, governments around the world are currently exploring or actually establishing unique, national, information and communication technology (ICT) accessibility policies. Effective policies and robust technical standards encourage market competition and broad deployment of accessible ICT. However, conflicting policies create unnecessary national technology barriers that divide governments, industry, and people with disabilities. Such barriers only reduce the overall amount of accessible ICT available in the commercial marketplace.

The Session: This session will be a panel discussion of the international efforts to develop ICT accessibility standards and regulations. Currently there are significant accessibility related standards and regulatory or legislative activities ongoing in Europe, Asia, and the Americas. In addition, several international organizations are considering ICT accessibility from both a policy and a technical perspective. This panel will discuss the current status of international activities. In addition, the panel will explore how the global marketplace, including industry, governments, and consumers, can make the best use of these international efforts to avoid the development and adoption of redundant or conflicting ICT accessibility standards and policies across multiple markets and jurisdictions. The panel will discuss specific opportunities to work towards the global harmonization of ICT accessibility standards and to ensure increasingly high quality accessible ICT for all people.

The Panelists: The panel members will represent the range of interests participating in this global harmonization effort. The panel members also will represent the US and other global regions participating in this international effort. The panel will be moderated by James Thurston, Director Technology Policy at the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI).

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