Manila, PH — A Policy Development Writeshop on Accessible ICT for Persons with Disabilities (PWD’s) was conducted at the Mimosa Leisure Estate, Clark Pampanga from February 9-11, 2016. The event brought about the collaborative efforts of members of the Information and Communications Technology Office of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-ICTO) and the National Council for Disability Affairs (NCDA).  The result of the three-day workshop is an initial draft of a Joint Memorandum Circular with an overarching theme of Universal Design, where products, services, and facilities can be used by virtually everyone, regardless of level of ability or disability. This Joint Memorandum Circular is to be signed by heads of the DOST-ICTO and NCDA, and implemented in all Government Agencies, Constitutional Offices, Local Government Units (LGUs), Government Owned And Controlled Corporations (GOCCs), Government Financial Institutions (GFIs), State Universities And Colleges (SUCs), Philippine Embassies and other Philippine Offices Abroad

As part of the Philippine Digital Strategy’s thrust of Investing in People through providing Digital Literacy For All, the literacy and competency needs of special sectors, including PWD’s need to be addressed. It was through the Policy Development Writeshop that participating PWD groups, including Resources for the Blind (RBI), and Metro Manila Christian Institute for the Deaf (MCCID) were able to provide the current state and context of PWDs’ access to ICT in the Philippines. By sharing their experiences as well as their major challenges, the participants were able to draw the main issues that ought to be addressed in the Joint Memorandum Circular.

To target each issue efficiently, participants were grouped into five, each addressing specific issue/s attributed to PWD’s accessibility to ICT. The participants answered to issues regarding health and data, education, transport and infrastructure, telecommunications, and employment.

Through focus group discussions, participants from both the ICT industry as well as the PWD’s were able to share their own insights and create the foundation for the Joint Memorandum Circular, in reference with existing laws and policies. Following the workshop is an initial discussion, followed by a series of online and face-to-face consultations with various disability groups.