Advancing ICT Accessibility with ITU

Advancing-ICT-Accessibility-blogIn February 2007 Craig Barrett, then Chairman of Intel, invited ITU, several other international organizations and a small group of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) – including our nascent organization, the Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs (G3ict) – to present their plans to promote the adoption of information and communication technologies (ICTs) among disenfranchised populations.  Our mission to promote the ICT accessibility dispositions of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) seemed far-fetched at the time, in that the CRPD had not yet been signed by any state and nobody anticipated the formidable momentum that the CRPD has today come to enjoy.

One of the participating United Nations (UN) leaders was Dr. Hamadoun I. Touré, Secretary-General of ITU.  After we presented our plans for G3ict, Dr. Touré said:  “This is an important development and you should talk to our colleagues in Geneva involved in accessibility: those issues are central to ITU’s mission and we could work together”.  Little did I know that this encouragement would put us on the trajectory of developing a long-lasting, productive and effective cooperation with ITU.

Following this meeting ITU and G3ict entered into a cooperation that has since flourished beyond expectation and delivered essential tools in support of policy makers and advocacy organizations around the world, including:

The accomplishments of this ITU-G3ict cooperation and the impact of its output have far exceeded expectations, bringing tremendous benefits to the advancement of ICT accessibility worldwide.

Working with ITU has also been a very rewarding experience on a personal level, involving incredibly committed professionals in Asenath Mpatwa, Alexandra Gaspari, Susan Schorr and Mario Maniewicz of the ITU secretariat and ITU members like Andrea Saks, who hasnever faltered in her passionate commitment to accessibility and the CRPD, helping keep us on track with the broader ITU agenda as G3ict’s Permanent Representative to ITU.

G3ict brought new expertise to the work of ITU, and ITU’s openness to collaboration and global outreach has leveraged G3ict’s expertise to great effect in advancing the cause of ICT accessibility.  Our partnership with ITU is a true success story of collaboration between a UN agency and civil society, and, on behalf of G3ict, I applaud ITU’s thought leadership in a pioneering area.

G3ict, the Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs is based in Atlanta, GA, United States, and is a member of ITU’s Standardization and Development Sectors (ITU-T and ITU-D).  Andrea Saks is G3ict’s Permanent Representative to the ITU.  Axel Leblois is a founding trustee and thecurrent President and Executive Director of G3ict. 

Further information about ITU´s activities in the area of accessibility can be found at

Axel Leblois, President and Executive Director, G3ict

Axel-LebloisAxel Leblois spent over 20 years at the helm of information technology companies in the United States including as CEO of Computerworld Communications, CEO of IDC – International Data Corporation, Vice-Chairman of IDG – International Data Group, President of Bull HN Worldwide Information Systems – formerly Honeywell Information Systems, CEO of ExecuTrain and President of W2i, the Wireless Internet Institute. Axel Leblois served as a Senior Special Fellow of UNITAR, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, and is a founding trustee of its North American affiliate CIFAL Atlanta.  He currently serves on the Board of Directors of USICD, U.S. International Council on Disabilities, and GAATES, Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments.  In addition, he serves on the Advisory Board of Mada, Qatar Assistive Technology Center, and on the Scientific Advisory Board of Cloud4all. He is an adjunct professor at OCAD University/Inclusive Design Institute. 

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