Oman has ranked as the leading country in the world for supporting digital accessibility for disabled people.
The Sultanate rated highest on the Digital Accessibility Rights Evaluation (DARE) index, released by G3ict, the Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs.
Oman scored 81 points out of 100, followed by France (77) and the USA (75). The country also topped the ranking for actual progress in making accessible digital products and services available to Persons with Disabilities (PWD).
Conducted in collaboration with Disabled People's International (DPI), national organisations of persons with disabilities, and local advocates, the survey covers 121 countries in eight regions around the world, and assesses commitment, capacity and implementation of digital accessibility.
Full and unrestricted access to digital devices, content, information and services is specified as a condition of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which includes accessibility of television, e-books, computers, web sites or mobile devices and services. The Index is intended as the first attempt to track the progress made by nations to delivering on digital accessibility.
Axel Leblois, president of G3ict, commented: "As there are no consistent data sources available around the world on digital accessibility, G3ict is pleased to offer what we think is an unparalleled resource tool developed by ‘advocates for advocates' to track, evaluate, and rank the digital accessibility readiness of their respective countries, in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)."
The DARE Index measures three categories of variables in each country: country commitments (legal, regulatory, policies and programs), country capacity to implement (organization, processes, resources) and actual digital accessibility outcomes for persons with disabilities in 10 areas of digital products and services.
The Information Technology Authority (ITA) of Oman has led the country's efforts for accessibility, which have been part of official legislation for ten years.
Digital accessibility and inclusion was at the top of ITA's agenda, programs and projects, and includes government and private sector organisations. The work on digital empowerment started back in 2008 when ITA recognized the importance of making the main portal in Oman fully accessible to enable all citizens and residents of different segments to access the available information and use electronic services.
After ITA ensured the accessibility of its website, in 2009, it started to spread awareness among Government entities to enable PWDs access their Websites. It introduced government and private organisations to the international best practices and standards. In addition, in 2009, under the eSociety development, ITA implemented a number of training programs in using ICT and assistive technologies for PWD.
In the same context, in 2010, ITA included web accessibility as main criteria in eContent category in His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Award for Excellence in eGovernment.
In 2012, the ITA, in cooperation with G3ICT, Formulated the eAccessibility Policy followed by rolling out an awareness campaign on eAccessibility issues for government and private organisations for ten sectors.
In 2013 onward, the ITA laid emphasis on digital inclusion by the issuance of a Circulation about the inclusion of eAccessibility in the eTransformation Plans of government entities. Furthermore, ITA supported government and private entities in implementing the best practices and guidelines to make websites and services accessible by PWDs along with offering user accessibility testing for websites and applications.