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ITA Holds Web Accessibility Workshop - Enhancing Disabled Children’s Learning Process
Source: http://www.ita.gov.om/ITAPortal/MediaCenter/NewsDetail.aspx?NID=338
Source Date: Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Country: Oman (Sultanate of)
Created: Dec 21, 2010

Contributing towards the spread of knowledge and basic technology information, the Information Technology Authority (ITA) organized a workshop in an effort to inform about web accessibility for disabled children in cooperation with the Association for Disabled Children. The workshop was held at the Innovation Support Centre lab at the ITA Offices located at the Knowledge Oasis Muscat (KOM). 

Attended by sixteen volunteer teachers and trainers working at the Association for Disabled Children, the workshop allowed teachers to acquire knowledge on how to teach disabled children about information technology (IT). Topics covered during the workshop included: the importance of accessibility programs; how disabled children can use the computer; and, available software for disabled users. Participants also received instruction on how to set up computers for disabled users, and were educated on how to effectively teach disabled users to use information communication technologies (ICTs).

ICTs can play a key role in enabling disabled children to benefit from their education to the same level as a non-disabled child. Informed teachers are key to the successful deployment of ICT in schools. Therefore, it is ITA’s belief that every effort is made to provide teachers with a wide range of ICT skills and competencies to assist special needs children. The ITA has a long-range plan for the Association for Disabled Children to equip them with proper ICT tools and skills that can be used for the rest of his/her life in an effort to fully integrate with society and become an equal member of society.

"Web accessibility means that people with disabilities can use the Web. Web accessibility encompasses all disabilities that affect access to the Web, including visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive, and neurological disabilities." (Source: W3C). Persons with disabilities are faced with many challenges when using the Internet and some use assistive technologies to help them access information. For instance, persons with visual impairments may use screen magnifiers or screen readers that read out loud the content of a page or translate it on a Braille display. Persons with mobility impairment may be unable to use a mouse and resort to using the keyboard or another assistive device to surf the web. Special attention needs to be dedicated to web accessibility in the web design process to ensure a site is usable by persons with different types of disabilities, using a wide range of assistive technologies.

The Accessibility Workshop was conducted by Mr. Richard Warren, an experienced engineer and lecturer who has been the Technical Director and Senior Partner for Website Auditing Ltd for more than 10 years. The company provides independent reports and certification for compliance with the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) and S508 Accessibility Guidelines. Richard is passionate about the life-enhancing inclusive potential of the web. He developed the company’s e-learning course on web accessibility (ecampus), delivers technical training courses, and regularly presents at awareness raising seminars in major UK cities. In addition, Richard has been involved in a number of EU-level (European Union) projects in this field and has co-authored a number of reports. The ITA was honored to have Mr. Warren host this vital workshop and share his knowledge about world-wide web accessibility.

Through this cooperation, the ITA continues its efforts to make information technology (IT) accessible to all segments of society and to ensure everyone has equal opportunity to participate in Oman’s Digital Society and eGovernment initiative.

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