ICT for Persons with Disabilities - Caribbean Telecommunications Union

What are ICT for Persons with Disabilities?

The ICT for Persons with Disabilities initiative arose out of the Caribbean Telecommunications Union’s (CTU) belief that Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) can enrich the lives of Persons with Disabilities. The CTU has therefore undertaken to make ICT more inclusive by reaching out to persons with disabilities and demonstrating the possibilities in a tangible way.

The CTU’s efforts began in June of 2013 with attendance at the Washington-based Mobile Enabling Summit, organised by the Global Initiative for Inclusive ICT (G3ICT) and the International Telecommunication Union. The Summit is the only program exclusively dedicated to promoting on an annual basis mobile accessible and assistive applications and services for senior citizens and users of all abilities.

Following this, the CTU began holding ICTs for Persons with Disabilities Workshops regionally, beginning with a policy and high-level issues workshop in collaboration with G3ICT in Jamaica in December of 2013. Subsequently, hands-on workshops with persons with disabilities (for both adults and children who are blind or deaf) have been held in Suriname in April of 2014, St. Kitts and Nevis in September of 2014, Grenada in March of 2015 and St. Lucia in March of 2016. The next workshops are planned for Barbados in September of 2016.

How do ICT for Persons with Disabilities workshops operate?

ICT for Persons with Disabilities workshops are conducted in CTU member states at schools and organisations catering to Persons with Disabilities. Facilitators, one deaf and one blind, demonstrate the available technology and attendees are invited to engage with the devices in a hands-on manner.

Member states and facilitators are subsequently invited to continue the workshops.

How are ICT for Persons with Disabilities workshops funded?

ICT for Persons with Disabilities is funded by the CTU in partnership with Member States.

What is the Caribbean Video Assistance Service (CVAS)?

The Caribbean Video Assistance Service (CVAS) is a collaborative partnership between the CTU, VTCSecure, organisations for Persons with Disabilities and network operators, which uses VTCSecure’s technological platform to provide video communication services for Deaf and Blind persons. The service is delivered via an individual’s smart phone, computer or wireless device, connected to the internet.

CVAS will provide a video relay service (VRS) for Deaf, Hard of hearing and Speech impaired sign language users, and video assistance for the Blind or the Visually impaired. This service enables the Deaf not only to call each other and communicate directly, but also to speak with agents (sign language interpreters), who relay conversations between them and Hearing parties. The agents will also assist Blind users, enabling them to resolve issues for which they need the assistance of a sighted person.

As this type of service has not been available in the Caribbean, prior to the full implementation of CVAS, a pilot will be undertaken. The pilot will allow the CTU, its partners and CVAS participants to gain a better understanding of all the components involved in setting up a successful video relay service for the PWDs in Trinidad and Tobago and across the Caribbean. The results from the pilot will then be used to properly define the various aspects of the project for wide-scale implementation.

For a powerpoint presentation providing more information on CVAS, including two videos demonstrating how the service will work, please click here.