Pakistan Telecommunication Authority together with Internet Society (ISOC) Bureau, Telenor Pakistan, National ICT R&D Fund, Ministry of Information Technology, Special Talent Exchange Program, Pakistan Foundation Fighting Blindness, Pakistan Blind Cricket Council and Pakistan Youth Foundation of Deaf and Hard of Hearing has launched the 2016 edition of the Pakistan Mobile App Awards.
The theme for this year’s awards is: “Embracing Mobile Accessibility for Persons with Disabilities in Pakistan” aimed to focus on development of ready-to-use mobile applications addressing needs of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in Pakistan.
As per independent International sources, 10 to 15% of Pakistan’s population consists of Persons with Disabilities. It is estimated that about 20 to 30 million Pakistanis face some form of disability.
Speaking at the launch ceremony, Dr. Syed Ismail Shah, Chairman PTA said
“I’m hoping that there will be support for this cause from all across Pakistan as work on accessibility does not stop with mobile applications. There is so much more that can be done in this field and it all begins with an understanding of the needs of Persons with disabilities.”
He further said that when he approached the Minister of Science and Information Technology Mrs. Anusha Rahman Khan for inclusion of PWDs in the upcoming IT policy, she instructed the relevant officers to include the PWDs as a stakeholder group.
Giving the details of the awards, Muhammad Shabbir from ICT Accessibility Group said that
”The 2016, Mobile App Awards will allow us to harness the power of technology to promote inclusion and accessibility in order to help realize the full and equal participation of persons with disabilities in the society”.
DG Human Rights, Ministry of Law and Justice, Mr. Hassan Mangi, who was also present on the occasion, remarked that
“all UN conventions talk about Human Rights but there is no national body in Pakistan that takes into consideration matters revolving around people with disabilities. This initiative is therefore very crucial and extremely timely.”
Syed Raza Shah, Member IT, Ministry of Information Technology informed about some recent discussions held at the Ministry on the subject of ‘Web Accessibility’. He emphasized to include the matter in the upcoming IT policy of Pakistan on the instruction of MoS IT, while appreciating the support provided by the ICT Accessibility Group. He also mentioned that efforts are already underway to make Ministry’s website more accessible and inclusive.
Mohammad Atif, Director, Special Talent Exchange Program (STEP). said:
“ICT is the most important ingredient in making a society accessible in all fields of life. Pakistan is one of the leading countries working in the area of ICT accessibility and we hope that this initiative will act as a benchmark for further projects in the country.”
During his closing remarks for Mobile App Awards Pakistan 2016, ISOC Asia-Pacific Bureau Director, Rajnesh Singh appreciated the support provided by local organization(s) to ISOC in Pakistan. On the 2016 Mobile Awards, he said that
“the support and the interest from various stakeholders make these awards unique in nature and probably first of their kind in the region. Recently, there is a lot of energy being diverted towards ICT Accessibility in Pakistan but to ensure the success, we have to make sure that this work continues and brings results”.