Gunela Astbrink, Director of the Board at the Internet Society of Australia, was on hand at the ‘i-NET conference (PacINET2014)’ which is being hosted by Cook Islands government and coordinated by the Cook Islands Internet Action Group.
During a morning workshop, Astbrink said work needs to continue to improve internet accessibility for people with disabilities.
“There is a concern between the ICT literate and those who are not able to access this powerful medium ...” said Astbrink.
A number of stakeholder groups were present for the workshop, including officials from government and the Cook Islands National Disability Council.
Overseas dignitaries were also in attendance.
“The important thing to know is that disability doesn’t fit into one slot, it cuts across, that’s why different ministries are involved,” she said.
Astbrink said a number of tools are available to help persons with disabilities access the internet, including voice recognition software, tablet devices, improvised hardware such as a larger mouse, and “zoom text” – bigger words for the visually challenged.
In order to turn policy into action, she said a stock needs to be taken of the barriers facing people with disabilities, as well as an assessment of existing facilities.
One attendee said it was vital for training programmes to be available both in English and in Maori.
Additionally, policymakers must consider physical accessibility issues – such as steps and stairs to facilities.
Astbrink added it was important for disability organisations to work together towards common goals.
“Ideas and action have already starting coming from this workshop,” she said.
The i-NET conference continues today at the Pukapuka hostel.