The government is advancing digital inclusion for Persons with Disability (PWDs) to enable them to take advantage of digital and financial technology services.
So far, about 30 per cent of PWDs have been enrolled at the Ghana Digital Centre in Accra to acquire the requisite skills and knowledge to build their capacity for them to contribute to national development.
The Minister of Communications and Digitalisation, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, who disclosed this at a workshop on digital accessibility for PWDs in Accra, said giving the right skills to PWDs and providing them with assistive technology could help them secure jobs.
“We will ensure that all citizens benefit equally and equitably from digital skills, products and services, as we are determined to narrow all forms of the digital divide,” she added.
Among issues discussed at the workshop were the importance of digital accessibility to the disabled, interventions, gaps in digital accessibility and solutions to strengthen policy directives in its drive.
Participants were drawn from the National Council on PWDs, various PWD groups, representatives from the Ministry of Communications and Digitalisation, the World Bank, the private sector and ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).
Also present were some students from the School for the Blind and Deaf in Cape Coast.
Mrs Owusu-Ekuful called on the private sector and the development partners to support PWDs with assistive technology devices.
She said the provision of materials, such as sunscreens, readers, magnifiers, transcription and subtitle devices, would complement the government’s efforts at advancing digital inclusion for PWDs.
“I would like to commend the National Council on PWDs in particular for bringing up proposals on interventions to accelerate the digitisation of the activities of members,” the minister added.
Bridging the gap
The Director of the World Bank for Ghana, Sierra Leone and Liberia, Dr Pierre Laporte, said global development and poverty reduction could only be achieved by exploring the potential of all, including PWDs.
He said the voices and the potential of the estimated one billion people worldwide who lived with one form of disability or another were often ignored, as they faced exclusion, stigma and discrimination in accessing employment, education, health care, and general development gains.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated these inequalities, as we have become more keenly aware of the digital revolution which has transformed the way we live, learn, stay connected and work in society.
“We are making progress, yet there is much more to be done. It requires collective effort not only from the government or international organisations, such as the World Bank, but also the private sector, social entrepreneurs, academia and every citizen of the country,” Dr Laporte added.
The Director of the Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT, Dr Collins Yeboah Afari, said the government’s effort to achieve the digitalisation agenda, which includes equipping the individual holistically, was crucial to helping to bring out the ingenuity of PWDs.
The Executive Secretary of the National Council on Persons with Disability, Esther Akua Gyamfi, said “inaccessibility to government portals, web and online contents is of great concern to PWDs, since such barriers further marginalise them as they try to access information and communication online”.