New journal paper: Assessing the Readiness of Government and Semi-Government Institutions in Qatar for Inclusive and Sustainable ICT Accessibility: Introducing the MARSAD Tool

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has revolutionized the lives of persons with disabilities globally through opportunities for improved social inclusion. Technology enables persons with disabilities to access information, media, education, employment, and ICT-related assistive technologies. Decision makers must clearly understand the current state of available ICT products and services, their compliance with international accessibility standards, and their usage within the country to propose effective inclusive policies and legislations. This paper presents an e-readiness assessment tool (called MARSAD) created and implemented from 2019 to 2021 to identify factors that influence the adoption of ICT accessibility for people with disabilities in Qatar. It aims to measure the national ICT accessibility adoption rate and develop key recommendations to improve digital access for persons with disabilities to access digital platforms of various Qatari government and semi-government institutions. The tool was administered to 14 institutions in the domains of education and culture. It was found that participating institutions had considerable gaps in their ICT infrastructure to offer an inclusive digital environment, which is in line with the principles of sustainability and SDG 11, to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable. The participating institutions demonstrated a genuine willingness to invest in implementing the required changes based on the results acquired by conducting MARSAD. As a suggestion, the tool can be used as a foundation to conduct e-readiness assessment studies to offer accessible ICT products and services catering to the needs of persons with disabilities, women, children, and older persons.

Keywords: SDG 11; inclusion and disability; digital transformation; inclusive society; e-readiness assessment; ICT accessibility; digital accessibility; policy adoption rate

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