On 2 September 2020, UNESCO and the Internet Society of China (ISC) officially signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Promoting Web Accessibility in Mongolia in Beijing. Ms Marielza Oliveira, Director of UNESCO Beijing Cluster Office, Ms Pei Wei, Deputy Secretary-General of ISC, as well as other representatives from UNESCO Beijing Cluster Office and the Internet Society of China, attended the official signing.
The COVID-19 pandemic is having a disproportionate impact on learners with disabilities, who were already marginalized before the outbreak and thus even less likely to benefit from distance learning solutions, as they are not always included in strategies of distance learning. This is especially the case in developing countries such as Mongolia.
In response to the critical requests from the Government of Mongolia for assistance in improving the country’s web accessibility, particularly focusing educational websites as a COVID-19 response, UNESCO and ISC signed the MOU to formalize a partnership on the promotion of web accessibility. By leveraging the technical expertise, good practices and experience of ISC, this project aims to convert all websites to become accessible for persons with disabilities, the elderly, people with low literacy, and students from poor rural communities – first in Mongolia, and in other developing countries. In the following year, through the conduction of assessment, capacity development, installation, and hand-over, the barrier-free Internet information service platform is expected to be launched on 17 May 2021 on the occasion of the World Telecommunication Day.
The event was opened by Ms Marielza Oliveira. In her welcome remarks, she highlighted the essentiality of making web accessible to people with diverse abilities. In order to address the common challenge facing all countries, especially developing countries like Mongolia, in terms of providing all people with equal access to information, Ms Oliveira stressed the necessity of joint efforts.
In her speech, Ms Pei Wei expressed their willingness and commitment to further deepening the collaboration with UNESCO under the South-South cooperation framework. Starting from Mongolia, the project aims to bring the good practices, experiences and technical expertise in the area from China to more developing countries.