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Full Session Transcript
Note: The following is the output of the real-time captioning taken during
Fourth Meeting of the IGF, in Sharm El Sheikh. Although it is largely accurate,
in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or
transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at
the session, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.
17 November 2009
Internet Governance Forum
Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt
>>JONATHAN CHARLES: Ladies and gentlemen, hello, good morning. We are going
to start this session now, one of our main sessions on access and diversity.
My name is Jonathan Charles. I'm your moderator today. I am a presenter with
BBC News, a foreign correspondent with BBC News, and I am also here as part of
the EBU delegation, European Broadcasting Union.
Over the next three hours there will be plenty of opportunity for you to have
your comments on what we are talking about. I am hoping after each set of
speakers to call on some of you from the floor to make your comments, your
observations, and perhaps engage in a little debate. Because that's what we are
here for, is to move this whole subject forward. It's not just about hearing
people's prepared positions. I would like to hear your comments so that we can
try to draw some conclusions.
Access and diversity. Well, I suppose it is two sides of the same coin, isn't
it. In the case of access, it is about getting some of the hundreds of millions
of people who aren't currently online, able to access the Internet, to get them
involved in what is this large global conversation.
And diversity, too. We're all aware that the Egyptians have just announced
over the past 24 hours they are about to file the first non-Latin domain name.
They want dot masr, dot Egypt in Arabic. So there's a non-Latin domain name.
They are trying to bring the Internet to many people who are unable to speak one
of the Latin languages and want to have it in their own language, Arabic, the
300 million potential Arabic users in the world, very few of whom are currently
And the past 24 hours we have been talking a lot as well about access for the
disabled. The 10% of the global population who are in one way or another
disabled. They have some disability. And they, too, want to take part in what
many of us take for granted, the Internet.
Our speakers I will be introducing one by one. I would like to start by asking
Markus to make a few comments on behalf of the Secretariat, a few announcements.
Silence is golden.
>>MARKUS KUMMER: Now it's on. Thank you, Jonathan. Good morning, ladies and
I have just a few announcements.
First, not all of you were given a conference bag, that is due to the fact that
we had more participants than expected. We issued 1800 bags and we have been
planning for 1500 participants, so we have a very high attendance, and
unfortunately, not every participant was given a bag.
One of the items in the bag was a book we produced reflecting last year's
meeting in Hyderabad, the whole preparatory process and also the stock-taking
We will make more copies of that book available here in the room, so for those
who did not get the book with the bag, please feel free to pick it up.
We also have enough, should people be interested in picking up more than one
book. There is no point in leaving many book copies here in Sharm El Sheikh.
The second announcement concerns tomorrow's meeting. You know we said it
several times, it is also on our Web site, that we changed the program, as the
First Lady of Egypt will have a special session between 10:00 and 11:15.
This means that all workshops will have to start at 8:00 in the morning. The
shuttle arrangements will be adjusted to allow participants to reach the
conference tent in time.
All workshops begin at 8:00. They will finish at 9:30 to allow participants to
come to the main hall in time.
The doors will be closed at 9:15, and I'm told that mobile phones will be
banned from the main session room. My recommendation, therefore, would be leave
your mobile phone in the hotel room, if you want to be sure that you have it
again at the end of the day, as there might be confusion if everybody deposits
it outside the gate.
Again, after the First Lady's session, we will resume our normal program at
11:30 with the stock-taking session, and all the workshops.
We will break for lunch at 1:00. Resume again at 1430 with the second part of
the stock-taking session. And then the emerging issues session will be
shortened by half an hour, will be between four hours and six hours. And the
closing session will be at six hours, half an hour from 6:00, till half past
That marks tomorrow's program.
And the last announcement I was told by our host country that IPv6 is now
functional in the Congress center. It was not planned to begin with, as part of
the network requirements, but in order to accommodate the requests that were
also made during yesterday's session on critical Internet resources, the host
country network team has now set up an IPv6 network with SSID, IGF underscore
IPv6 yesterday evening.
If you prefer to use IPv6, please switch to that network.
>>JONATHAN CHARLES: Markus, thank you very much, indeed.
So our work this morning, the three hours are split into really two distinct
sessions. Between now and 11:30 we are going to look at diversity and from
11:30 we are going to change panels, change chairman, change moderator and they
are going to look at access.
On diversity, we are also going to split that into two sections, first of all,
look at the issues faced by people with disabilities and then we will look at
Our chairman today is Talal Abu-Ghazaleh. He is chairman of the U.N. global
alliance for ICT and development. He is also chairman, amongst other thing, of
the Talal group, a leading business service provider with 72 offices around the
world. I have to say he is also irrepressible and very lively and that's what
we want today to be, we want it to be a very lively session. So think of your
questions. Think that you, too, are involved in all of this.
>>TALAL ABU-GHAZALEH: All right. Good morning. I want to salute the many
good friends here that I have known for many, many years and say hello to the
new friends I am making this morning, and I hope I am making this morning,
because I would like to be, as usual, candid and direct.
I take objection to the top subject of diversity which I am supposed to chair
the meeting on, because as defined, it is in two parts only: Diversity in
language and diversity of disability. And I disagree to both.
Diversity is much more than that and is much wider than that. And therefore, I
would like to call on our very able leadership in the Internet Governance Forum
to produce a list or a table of diversities as far as that is related to ICT and
as GAID, as chairman of the global alliance, United Nations Global Alliance on
ICT and Development, we would be very happy to work with you on a joint project,
since we are both, GAID and the IGF, are the two valued sons of the WSIS. They
are the two concrete projects that came out of the WSIS.
So as good brothers, we could work on a list of what can be called as
diversities, and in which sense which means disadvantages.
So language first, I don't like to hear that we are very happy that Arabic has
been recognized as one of the diversities. Arabic language is a major
historically respected language. So are the other languages: Indian, Chinese,
every other language.
It is -- The problem is that ICANN started, and we are grateful to ICANN and I
have great working relationship with ICANN. ICANN started as a U.S. gift, and
we are grateful to the United States of America for making that gift free to the
entire world. We recognize that great generosity. And of course it had to
start with Latin, what you call Latin, which is the English alphabet. But
Arabic alphabet is there, has been there and is not a diversity. It is just
another language, just as equal to the English language, English character. In
fact, I think we are, and the Indians, the Arabs and Indians take pride in
having introduced the characters and having introduced the numbers.
And we invented the zero, which made the Internet operate.
So we do not want to be seen in the Arab world as a diversity. We are not. We
are just as equal as anybody on the Internet world.
That's number one.
Number two, disability. Disability is not a diversity. Disability is just
another kind of person, another kind of circumstances, another well-being in a
different set, like a tall man, a fat man, an idiot, an intelligent person. He
is just equal to any of us and is sometimes better than any of us.
Some of my best people in the organization are what you call people with
disability. So I don't want to call them -- If we want to call disabilities,
then we need to define the term as to mean peculiar. Peculiar, it is in
relation to ICT.
Now, having said that, I would say the whole subject cannot be limited to
disability and language. How about poverty? If I cannot have the means to
learn nor to have access, I am much worse than a person with disability, because
a person with disability who has the circumstances in a country with provides
respect -- the respect for him which he deserves is in a much better position
than the person in a country where he cannot even know what a computer is like.
Then we talk about infrastructure. Education. Education. That's why we are
very proud that yesterday we launched our great partnership with UNESCO on
education and, among other things, we are looking at ICT indicators on a
Web-based transparent basis so that every country knows where they are and what
they are doing.
But more than that, we are developing an open platform, and we are also
developing an open source program for the entire world, so that we have complete
access to content. Content problem.
And I was very proud that His Excellency Minister Tarek Kamel yesterday
endorsed this project with great enthusiasm, and he welcomed our partnership
with UNESCO. And I will be working with his ministry and under his leadership
in pushing this project throughout -- in Egypt, in the Arab world, and in the
I don't want to talk too long, but I just want to say finally, let us be here
very, very, very clear. When we talk of disability, we don't talk of an
inferior person. When we talk about the Arabs, and here I don't speak for the
U.N. today. I have my business hat. I come from the rat race. I am a business
man who is proud to be a business man, because we generate income. We generate
-- we create knowledge and we create wealth and we pay for the salaries of the
government officers and everybody in the world.
So we are very proud to be businessmen, and I am very proud to say I am here
today speaking as a businessman. A businessman has a responsibility, a
corporate responsibility and a governmental responsibility. And out of
awareness of this I want to call on every business organization in the world to
do its duty and not to think of itself as only a wealth creator and knowledge
creator. But as a servant to the society. And this is what our agreement with
UNESCO is all about.
Now, I will, in closing, say I would like to see out of this meeting some sense
of direction on the question of diversity.
Access is diversity. And access is the most important diversity.
The people who do not have access without any disability are at least hundred
times more in number than those who are with disability and do not have access
because of disability.
Disabled people are great people. They are just as good as me and better than
me. But there are people who are unfortunately less than me because of the
circumstances of lack of access. Those also have to have our attention. And I
thank you for putting up with me as usual.
[ Applause ]
>>JONATHAN CHARLES: Talal, thank you very much. I would have been very
disappointed if you hadn't been provocative.
We take it for granted, don't we? We click on the Internet, we click on a Web
page and we are able to navigate it, most of us.
But that's not the case for everyone. And our first pair of speakers are going
to show us, sometimes, why it isn't the case. Why people need to think a lot
harder about the way they design their Web pages, to make sure they conform with
Let me introduce Shadi Abou-Zahra who is the activity lead on WAI international
program, and standing at the podium, Gerry Ellis, accessibility and usability
consultant for Feel the BenefIT. Both of them work very heavily in this area of
making sure that access is improved for people with disabilities.
Over to you gentlemen.
>>SHADI ABOU-ZAHRA: So good morning.
Yeah, thank you for this opportunity to talk to you and to present to you what
Web accessibility, as an example of accessibility in ICT, provides.
For those of you who have attended Tim Berners-Lee's keynote on Sunday, I think
he showed the vast importance of universality of the Web for people from
different cultures, with different languages, with different devices, and with
different abilities. So it's really about connecting humanity, as he called it.
And the Web, in particular, really provides unprecedented opportunities for
people with disabilities to interact, to access information, and to act as equal
peers on the Web by providing content and by using the information and using the
Gerry is going to be showing an example of one user. He is totally blind. He
is going to be showing how he uses his computer and a software that will speak
out what's on the screen for him, and show how he can use that to access the
Web. What happens when a Web site is developed accessibly, and what happens
when a Web site, the same Web site, is not developed accessibly.
Gerry, please go ahead.
>>GERRY ELLIS: Chairperson, ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much.
As Shadi said, what I have here is a standard laptop, the same as any other
person would use, with an extra piece of software called assistive technology.
And the particular assistive technology that I use is called a screen reader,
which is what speaks text on the screen. what I'm going to show you is two
versions of the same Web site, and firstly what I'm going to do is just test
that the sound is working, so what you will hear is the title of the Web site.
So let's see, is it working.
>>SCREEN READER VOICE: City limits home, your access to the city.
>>GERRY ELLIS: So it said "access to the city" and you'll hear the voice and
just so you can acclimatize, I'll do that just one more time.
>>SCREEN READER VOICE: City lights home, your access to the city.
>>GERRY ELLIS: Okay. So what do you do when you go onto a Web site?
Firstly, you normally take a land sight of Web site just to get a feeling of
the general overview of the Web site, but I can't do that.
Normally, what I would have to do is read all the way from top to bottom,
unless there are proper structures. So the first structure that I want to look
at are the headings on the Web site. So what I'm going to do is go through a
couple of headings and what you will hear is the heading being spoken and then
it will say "Level Heading 1," "Level Heading 2", or "Heading Level 1," "Heading
Level 2," so I know which are the important headings.
So I'm just going to flick through a couple of headings and that will see how I
get a feel for the structure of this Web site. So let's go to the first one.
>>SCREEN READER VOICE: Before and after demonstration, Heading Level 1.
>>GERRY ELLIS: So it said "Before and after demonstration, Heading Level 1," so
I know that's a major heading.
>>SCREEN READER VOICE: Welcome to city lights, Heading Level 1.
>>GERRY ELLIS: "Welcome to city lights," and I know that's still a major
heading because it said "Heading Level 1."
Let's try the next one.
>>SCREEN READER VOICE: Heat wave linked to temperatures. Heading Level 2 link.
>>GERRY ELLIS: "Heat wave, Heading Level 2," so I notice that these are lower
size headings so I know that these are not big banner headings, and that gives
me a tremendous knowledge of the kind of structure.
The next thing that I want to do is what are the tabs on here, or what are the
So I don't use a mouse. I can't see, so I can't click on a mouse. So the way
that I do it is by clicking "tab."
So I'm going to tab through a couple of links here and you'll hear the word
"tab" and then you'll hear the content of the link.
>>SCREEN READER VOICE: Tab, heat wave, full story, link.
>>GERRY ELLIS: "Heat wave, full story," and you heard the word "link," so I
now know that that is a link because it's properly structured.
I'm going to go to the next one.
>>SCREEN READER VOICE: Tab, man gets nine months in violin case, Heading Level
>>GERRY ELLIS: "Man gets nine months in a violin case." I don't know how he
fitted inside a violin case, but that's neither here nor there.
That sounds interesting to me, so what I can now do is I can just arrow down
and listen to the text.
>>SCREEN READER VOICE: Link, graphic, violin case open for inspection, complete
>>GERRY ELLIS: So what I have here is there's a picture of a violin case and
it's open for inspection and it was a simple little explanation attached to that
graphic. Even though my software can't read a picture, it can read that
description. And, again, I can go linking again.
>>SCREEN READER VOICE: Tab, violin case, full story, link.
>>GERRY ELLIS: "Full story."
So that is basically how I can get around if it's properly and well-structured.
So what I'm going to do now is link to -- jump to an inaccessible version of
exactly the same site.
>>SCREEN READER VOICE: Dot, dot, City lights, dot --
>>GERRY ELLIS: So here we have the same, it looks the same, aesthetically the
same. Let's see if it's as functional. Let's try and read the heading.
>>SCREEN READER VOICE: Dot, dot, city lights, dot, dot, dot.
>>GERRY ELLIS: "Dot, dot, city lights, dot, dot." A bit confusing, but not too
If you remember, the first thing I did last time was I went through the
headings to get a feeling for the structure, so let's see what the headings are
>>SCREEN READER VOICE: Before and after demonstration, Heading Level 1.
>>GERRY ELLIS: "Before and after demonstration, Heading Level 1." So far, so
good. Let's look at the next heading.
>>SCREEN READER VOICE: Wrapping to top, before and after demonstration.
>>GERRY ELLIS: It wrapped to the top because there are no more headings, so I'm
immediately at a major disadvantage because I can't get that general feeling of
what the Web site looks like. There is the first major inaccessibility, the
major problem for myself.
Let's look at a couple of more so if I go through some of the links, if I look
at some of the graphics that are here on this -- on this screen, let's hear one.
>>SCREEN READER VOICE: Link, graphic, before slash nav home mouse over.
>>GERRY ELLIS: I bet you didn't get that.
>>SCREEN READER VOICE: Date.
>>GERRY ELLIS: I'm going to read it again.
>>SCREEN READER VOICE: Link graphic before slash NAF home mouse over.
>>GERRY ELLIS: Before, slash, nav, backslash, something or other. Total
gibberish, from my point of view. It probably looks perfect from your point of
view because you can see the graphic, but because that graphic isn't properly
tagged with the information that I need, it sounds like gibberish. Let's try
the next one.
>>SCREEN READER VOICE: Link graphic before slash nav news on mouse over.
>>GERRY ELLIS: Total gibberish. I haven't a clue what that means. The last
time you saw me tabbing, I'm going to establish again to see what sort of tab --
can I tab to some links that I can make sense of.
>>SCREEN READER VOICE: Tab, dot, dot, city lights, dot, dot, tab.
>>GERRY ELLIS: So I'm tabbing to links which again you can see and you can
probably see them highlighted, but the information that I need from my clean
reader is not there, so let's establish through a couple more of these.
>>SCREEN READER VOICE: Tab.
>>GERRY ELLIS: Tab, blank. I can't access that. So in other words, let me
show you that Web site one more time. Have a look at it. That's the accessible
>>SCREEN READER VOICE: City lights home.
>>GERRY ELLIS: It looks exactly the same. But the accessible one is just as
aesthetically pleasing, just as functional, but much, much, more accessible, and
that's the message. It can be just as functional and just as aesthetically
pleasing and perfectly accessible.
[ Applause ]
>>SHADI ABOU-ZAHRA: Thank you, Gerry, for that.
So I hope this demonstration shows you really what we are talking about when we
are saying accessibility and access for people with disabilities.
What's important is to realize that this improvement in the coding that makes
it work for a screen reader or for other types of assistive technologies, so
people with different types of disabilities use other types of assistive
technologies. But that is essentially the same means that we use to access, for
example, with mobile phones, or with other devices.
So it's an improvement that benefits all in the end, regardless which
languages, cultures, or technologies that you are using.
For example, digital TV or sooner or later you are going to be browsing the Web
through your car radio.
So access for people with disabilities benefits all, and this is precisely what
we are talking about. You can have the same visual appearance and same
functionality, but with more quality that makes it work on a whole range of
devices and for people.
And at the W3C Web accessibility initiative, this is exactly what we developed.
We developed guidelines and solutions and standards and resources to make the
Web accessible for people with disabilities. And this is an example of why
standards in ICT are so important for people with disabilities and for the
inclusion of accessibility requirements.
And if you want to hear more about best practices in Web accessibility, please
attend our workshop later today. It's in room 5, I believe, in Suez Canal, at
Thank you very much.
[ Applause ]
>>JONATHAN CHARLES: Thank you very much, indeed, Shadi and Gerry. And a very
good example there of just how little you need to do to make a big difference if
you are designing a Web page. A massive difference. And no disadvantage to
anyone who doesn't need that extra built of help, because the Web site looks
exactly the same. That's universality.
I would like to call now on Cynthia Waddell who is the executive director of
the International Center for Disability Resources on the Internet. Or Andrea,
you would like to speak first. We are going to wait for Cynthia.
Andrea Saks I will call on first, who is the convener of the joint coordination
activity on accessibility and human factors; the coordinator, of course, on the
dynamic coalition on accessibility and disability. For decades has been working
on these issues, almost from birth because she was born into a family where her
parents were both hard of hearing.
>>ANDREA SAKS: Deaf.
>>JONATHAN CHARLES: Deaf, and had to take all the responsibility on her own
shoulders, a lot of responsibility for making sure that many of the day-to-day
existence things that we take for granted were done.
>>ANDREA SAKS: Thank you, Jonathan. The reason I wanted to go first is
because I want Cynthia to have the full rest of the time to concentrate on
presenting the message.
Actually, I am a little superfluous because I just coordinate things, but my
background has taken me to this spot.
It's true what Jonathan says, I was on the phone at two years old. I was the
My father was one of the founders of the text telephony system that is pretty
-- it's still being used throughout the world. We are moving to new technology.
And one of the legacies of that is something that's called real-time text,
which we did present in an earlier accessibility workshop which we had
One of the most important things I wanted to agree with the chairman, because I
am now working in places like Africa and other countries where the actual
economic structure does not afford people to get on ICTs in the first place.
And one of my favorite people is a wonderful Syrian man at ICT who said to me
about 15 years ago, "Andrea, when you talk about accessibility, I am talking
about where is the nearest phone and the nearest oasis." So I do understand
And this is my third trip to Egypt, and I love this place because no matter
what the adversity is, there is a smile on somebody's face. And it suits me
very well because that's how I feel about life.
So I have seen some fabulous things here, and I want to give the Egyptian
authorities a compliment. This has been the most accessible IGF meeting to
We have seen a tremendous progress in the awareness of the administration in
developing places and accessibility for people with physical and we have
captioning, we have sign language.
Though I want to point out sign language is not the same in every language, you
have got sign language.
And I went on an Egypt airplane and they had sign language and they had
captioning. It was in Arabic, I couldn't read it, but the prayers were
So at least somebody who is deaf in Egypt could understand the emergency
instructions, they had their prayer, and they had sign language, because not all
deaf people sign. When you get older, as I am getting, my hearing is getting
worse. My television is getting louder, and the kids are telling me to turn it
down. And it's reverse in me telling them to turn it down.
So accessibility affects us all. And it hits us at different times in our
But the main thing I wanted to stress is that the dynamic coalition is made up
of people who are or have -- are either related to, have a relationship with,
want to see the change or are disabled themselves.
They have written this message themselves over the period of about four months.
I have stuck my nose in, but I have really pretty much stayed out of it other
than to put in my comments which deal with things like dyslexia, because I have
a hidden disability which was totally ignored, because how could you beat
deafness? Dyslexia was not known in my time.
So I have been working in the area of accessibility now -- I guess if I am 62,
and I started at 2, for 60 years.
There has been a lot of change but we need convergence. We need to work
The western world has -- coming from the western world, always wants to tell
the other side that they call the developing world what to do. I don't feel
that that is an answer.
I think what we have to do is work with and have the projects originate in the
country with the assistance of those experts throughout the world, some of them
from different parts of the world, but work with the experts within the country
so we can develop programs where people can get education because education is
the key to move people out of poverty, move them out of the problem of not being
able to have access due to disability, and also bringing the world together so
we all can communicate on one level. And employment will occur when people can
all communicate on one level, and that will really lift us out of the problems
of disability for persons with disabilities. I think you agree with what I am
saying, I hope. Great, I got him. It's good.
What I am going to do now is turn it over to Cynthia who is going to present
Now, I just want one more explanation.
We were thinking of reading it out for the people who have sight problems and
sight disabilities, but that would take too long. It is going to go on the
screen. And we're going to do it section by section. It is two pages. And
Jonathan, I think we are going to adopt it at the end?
>>JONATHAN CHARLES: Yeah.
>>ANDREA SAKS: We are not going -- I have been just been informed it's four
pages and we are not going section by section. But what it is is to raise the
awareness and give a view as to what we would like to see.
So Cynthia -- I just did --
>>JONATHAN CHARLES: Absolutely. Cynthia, and afterwards, Talal is going to
make a comment and call for an acclamation.
>>ANDREA SAKS: But I didn't introduce Cynthia.
>>JONATHAN CHARLES: Andrea, thank you very much indeed. We have a lot of
irrepressible people on the panel here today, which is no bad thing.
Cynthia Waddell, executive director of the International Center for Disability
Resources on the Internet, has spent years also working in this area, including
being involved with getting justice in the United States, on the panel that
ensures there's justice for people with disability.
Cynthia, I will hand it over to you for the message.
>>CYNTHIA WADDELL: Thank you very much. It certainly is an honor to be here
today and to discuss a topic very dear to my heart.
This message by the dynamic coalition was put together mindful of the 650
million persons with disabilities around the world as well as the 2 billion
members, including their families that are impacted by the challenges of
When we speak of accessibility, I would like to point out it really has three
When we talk about accessibility, which respect to disability, we are talking
about connectivity with the Internet we are talking about affordability, and we
are talking about accessible design.
And when this panel began, we were looking at the Web and we were talking about
accessible design. Our chairman, when he opened, we talked about the challenges
of what this word "diversity" meant. And even within the global population,
persons with disabilities are diverse. And they are found in every social
strata, every culture, every country.
And so with that in mind, and knowing that 80% of persons with disabilities
live in developing countries, and most, unfortunately, tend to be in the
margins, as we referenced earlier.
So now I would like to present to you a summary, and not read a four-page
document out loud. I would ask you to please refer to it. And this is the
message on accessibility for persons with disabilities by the dynamic coalition
on accessibility and disability.
First I want to tell you that this message begins with the introduction that
talks about how the dynamic coalition was formed at the Internet Governance
Forum to ensure that information and communications technology accessibility is
included in the key debates about Internet governance.
The dynamic coalition seeks to build a future where all sectors of the global
community have equal access to the Information Society.
The message begins with this introduction.
It goes on to a section regarding rights.
This message supports the United Nations convention on the rights of persons
with disabilities whose purpose is to promote, protect, and ensure the full and
equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by persons with
disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity.
Now, these rights include equal access to the Internet, to information,
communication, and other services, including electronic services and emergency
Many people are unaware that the ICT, accessibility for persons with
disabilities is a significant obligation of the U.N. convention and is supported
by the Tunis commitment of the World Summit on the Information Society.
The message moves on to a section on the Internet standards and accessibility
support. The message promotes the use of internationally recognized and open
standards that support accessibility and result in the benefits that are
detailed in this message.
We believe that technical design standards play a critical role in the
implementation of accessible ICT.
However, one chief concern is the problem of the prevention of barriers to
participation by persons with disability, where these barriers are created by a
The message goes on to discuss other issues regarding Internet standards and
We move on to the benefits section, which discusses tangible and measurable
benefits that come from implementation standards and accessibility support.
There are many listed there but I'd like to point out that the benefits for
assisting persons with disabilities also benefits older adults and actually
improves access for everyone around the world.
The message also takes a look at and points out the benefits of universality,
of universal design. This message adopts the definition of "universal design"
as found in Article II of the United Nations convention on rights of persons
I'm going to, at this point, mention what -- say what that definition is, so
we're clear. "Universal design means the design of products, environments,
programs, and services to be usable by all people to the greatest extent
possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design. Universal
design shall not exclude assistive devices for particular groups of persons with
disabilities where this is needed."
Universal design and the discussion in the convention and reference in the
message points out to Article IX of the convention which seeks -- which
announces that the obligation of the signatories are to promote the design,
development, production, and distribution of accessible ICT and systems at an
early stage, so that these technologies and systems become accessible at minimum
The last two sections of the message address training. It provides
recommendations for your consideration and points to resources on what we feel
are helpful for training regarding these issues, and the last section is
We submit before you a list of practical steps to enable the global community
to benefit from an accessible ICT world. Thank you.
>>JONATHAN CHARLES: Cynthia, thank you very much. And at the very end of our
first half of proceedings, at about 11:30, Talal is going to -- as our chairman
is going to give a summary of where we are but also call on all of us to back
that message on accessibility for persons with disabilities by the Dynamic
Coalition on Accessibility and Disability.
Before we move on to our next section, which is multilingualism, this is the
time where I want to take a little bit of a break to allow you to have your say
on the speakers that we've heard so far. I want to hear from your comments from
the audience, comments that you might like to make.
I'd ask you to wait for the microphone to come to you or to go to one of the
microphones. There are people roving around with microphones. If you put up
your hand if you want to make a comment, and announce who you are, so that we
know exactly who you are. Then that will be great. I'm going to come down here
to -- so please ask your questions. Who would like to start? David Wood, I can
see your hand over there. If you could just say who you are, sir.we'll just get
a working microphone to you, hopefully.
>>DAVID WOOD: Yes, this is the broadcasting world, Jonathan, waiting for a
working microphone as you know.
Yes, I'm David Wood, from the professional media community, from the European
Broadcasting Union. A couple of quick points, if I may.
First of all, very strongly support to this piece of paper. The statement.
Please make that the one that you don't throw away when you leave here. Put it
in your bag, and one of the reasons is that when you go back home, you will need
this because you'll have to interpret nationally what the U.N. convention on
persons with disabilities means for things like the Internet and this is going
to be an invaluable aid to that.
So we're very much behind this document. We very much support it.
But when you read it, please also remember that it is just a first step. It is
an important and critical step but it is only a first one and there are two
reasons for this. First of all, it's talking about tools for multimedia Web
sites, and in fact, the technology of Web sites is moving on. It's including a
lot more videos, a lot more effectively television programs, and the new world
is one of combining Web and television content.
So there's still a job to be done to find out these tools in these new evolving
And the second issue is also about broadening the thinking in the future,
because access doesn't just mean mechanic access. We have to understand what's
on the page. It means access to society. It means the content of the Web site
is important, too. And we do have to look beyond the tools and the mechanics of
accessing to find out which content people with disabilities need and that we
So that's my message, essentially. Please bear in mind this is a very fine
start. Take the paper away from you, but it is a start and there is more to do
in terms of advanced types of content and advanced types of Web sites. Thank
>>JONATHAN CHARLES: David, if I can just ask you, with a lot of these issues,
it often comes down to money, doesn't it, particularly in terms of subtitling,
for example, on the Internet.
How is that going to be resolved, do you think, by broadcasters?
>>DAVID WOOD: Well, the -- the issue -- yeah. Subtitling, of course, as more
and more television programs get shown on the Web, we have to find a way of
transferring the subtitles, the video and audio descriptors that were used with
television programs onto the Web and we absolutely need the technical tools for
that, so we'd very much call upon bodies like the ITU to work on the standards
for doing that.
But the cost, of course, is a factor, and somehow or other we have to decide
that this community, this 10%, as you said, which incidentally can be enlarged
to include a lot of other people who find these facilities useful. We have to
find some way of convincing management that this is certainly money well spent.
>>JONATHAN CHARLES: David, thank you very much. Who else would like to make a
comment? Yes. Arun, a microphone will head in your direction.
>>ARUN MEHTA: Thank you. I'm Arun Mehta from New Delhi. I'm delighted that we
have a chairperson who is so frank and I would, therefore, help -- I would be,
therefore, grateful if he and others on the panel would help me understand how
the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations and all the indicators
for progress under the Millennium Development Goals make absolutely no mention
of disability. How did that happen?
>>JONATHAN CHARLES: That's quite a good point. I don't know whether anyone on
the panel -- I think I can see Talal certainly would like to make a comment on
>>TALAL ABU-GHAZALEH: I thank you for raising this subject because we are
having -- we've been working very actively on this issue at this time. We know
that the Millennium Development Goals were resolved by the summit in the year
2000, and the target was 2015, and we are now two-thirds through the way, with
very little accomplishment, and we have practically not delivered as a global
community, as a global community, on the achievement of the millennium goals.
So the U.N. GAID, the global alliance, is undertaking a project now, under the
leadership of the Secretary-General and his deputy, Mr. Sha, and I am on top of
this project, for a practical approach to the achievement of the development can
We will be submitting to the next summit in 2010, which will be the third
global Millennium Development Goals summit, a program -- a matrix with clear
indicators of how ICT can be used for development in every sector of
development, and that includes business, health, education, disability,
So we will be developing a comprehensive matrix how to put ICT for the purpose
of achieving the development and, hence, the Millennium Development Goals.
This is a target and I have promised the Secretary-General of the United
Nations that we will submit this matrix by April 2010, so that it will be ready
for the third global summit on the Millennium Development Goals.
>>JONATHAN CHARLES: Talal, thank you very much.
>>TALAL ABU-GHAZALEH: Thank you.
>>JONATHAN CHARLES: Shadi Abou-Zahra.
>>SHADI ABOU-ZAHRA: Yeah, I wanted just to very briefly respond on the
question of costs.
Especially on captioning.
I think this is much more beyond the 10% who need captioning in order to
understand the content, but it helps so many more. Especially here at the IGF.
I mean, looking around the room, I will just say that probably most of us are
nonnative English speakers, yet we are speaking English to be able to
communicate with each other.
My mother tongue be is Arabic. I very often miss words because of
pronunciation because I don't know the words, and I use the captioning even
though I can hear. So it helps me a lot, and I'm sure it helps many of you in
So the cost/benefits are very often inside, and many business cases have shown
that on the long run, you will save costs by implementing accessibility.
>>JONATHAN CHARLES: Shadi, thank you. We keep coming back, don't we, to the
idea of universality. It's at the heart of everything. Yes, Fernando Botelho.
I will just give you a microphone, so...
>>FERNANDO BOTELHO: Hello. It's on?
Hello, I'm Fernando Botelho. I specialize in low-cost solutions for persons
with disabilities and scalable projects.
I just want to give an example. There are -- there's a huge challenge in
making sure that persons with disabilities have employment opportunities around
the world, and there is -- there are companies such as a captioning company in
Argentina I discovered that the blind are actually even more productive than the
average person when doing transcription. So that's one more example of
employment opportunity and one that helps people with different disabilities.
>>JONATHAN CHARLES: Fernando, thank you very much, indeed. Okay. Some
questions over here. Yes. Yeah. If you could just introduce yourself.
>>FRANK LA RUE: Thank you. My name is Frank La Rue, and I am the special
rapporteur of United Nations for freedom of opinion of expression in the world
but I also happen to be legally blind, and very proud of it.
And I was fascinated with the question of accessibility, because obviously I
understand when you're talking about accessibility to ITCs, you're also talking
not only to the ability of receiving information and access to information, but
also the ability to express through ITC your opinions and your thoughts and I
think people with disabilities should have -- we should all have the possibility
of this double way of communication, receiving and expressing freely.
But I also wanted to say that I agree, as rapporteur, one of my concerns is
accessibility, precisely to new technology and new communication, and I agree
with the chairman when he said at the beginning that probably even beyond the
question of disability, the worst limitation is poverty and I do think we have
to put -- and the economic cost applies to people with disabilities as well,
because technologies for people with disabilities will tend to be more
expensive. So I believe and I wanted to ask the panel and the audience whether,
within for instance the millennium goals or as a matter of fact a recommendation
to the U.N., whether in order to reach economic development, we should actually
make all communities and all sectors, including people with disabilities, fully
accessible to electronic communication to ITCs, and in that sense, should there
be sort of a world campaign to create a fund -- first of all, each state to be
able to subsidize access to poor people or people with diversities like
disability and, secondly, whether there should be a worldwide fund for the
exchange of technology, the high technology to the developing world. Thank you.
>>JONATHAN CHARLES: Interesting point. So let me just ask -- Talal.
>>TALAL ABU-GHAZALEH: With your permission, because the point raised is also
very extremely important, and I want to tell you that I put again my hat as
chair of GAID.
We are working now on a statement on rights of every individual in the world to
access and to be part of the knowledge society of the world. And that is a
statement which we are working very carefully on, and we hope to produce it for
the summit as well, to act on it and make it a right like any other human right.
>>JONATHAN CHARLES: Talal, thank you. Andrea, do you want to comment on that
>>ANDREA SAKS: Well, one of the things that I had to learn when I got into
this was that deafness wasn't the only problem, even though that's where I
started and I totally agree with the -- with what the speaker -- I'm sorry, I
couldn't hear your name properly -- said about poverty. Otherwise, if you can't
feed a person, they're not going to be terribly interested in getting on
So I'm very glad to hear that that's going to be coming about. I hope to work
with you, Mr. Chairman, in the future, about accessibility from the dynamic
coalition and also from the joint coordination activity of accessibility and
human factors in the ITU, which I also chair, because it's much more complex.
We have to have convergence in standards and we also have to work hard to work
with people in different groups and the U.N., and unfortunately sometimes it is
all talk and no "do" which is kind of what I always worry about. We need
projects. We need projects in the countries to be able to accomplish
accessibility for everyone.
>>JONATHAN CHARLES: Andrea, thank you very much. Cynthia, a quick comment
>>CYNTHIA WADDELL: We are on a topic that is an obligation already in the
convention that's signed by many people, countries. In Article XXXII of the
U.N. convention and rights of persons with disabilities, it calls for
international cooperation to facilitate research and access to scientific and
technical knowledge, to provide technical and economic assistance, and as well
as to enable that technology transfer.
So accessible Web implementation and accessible ICT assistance and
international cooperation is already an obligation by many signatories to the
>>JONATHAN CHARLES: All right, Cynthia. Thank you. We don't have much time,
but 30 seconds each to make your points. The blonde lady there and then the
gentleman here just very quickly. Yes, sir.
>>GUNELA ASTBRINK: Gunela Astbrink, Internet Society of Australia. The issue
about poverty keeps on coming back.
We had a workshop yesterday on capacity-building on Internet accessibility
policy development, and this is, as Andrea Saks was talking about, helping
people in their own countries to develop skills to lobby governments and
industry to improve accessibility in a variety of ways.
So we had a great discussion. We're going to continue that discussion from our
workshop about various strategies. But hearing what the chairman says, I'd like
to make a challenge that how can business be more proactive in supporting people
with disabilities to improve accessibility? Could there be some way of working
with disability NGOs to assist? It might be I.T. induction programs for staff.
It might be making sure their products are accessible, or at least their Web
sites. So I -- I present that challenge.
>>JONATHAN CHARLES: All right. We'll get an answer from Talal in a second.
Just very quickly, the gentleman here.
>>ROHAN SAMARAJIVA: I'm Rohan Samarajiva. I represent a research organization
I think the -- the discussion has been very positive in terms of universalizing
or mainstreaming disability access, but suddenly -- and we are hearing a
conversation about more funds, more subsidies. I think when you mainstream
something, it must be part of the business model because we have a real good
example today of half the world's population being connected to electronic
networks without subsidies. That's the most important thing. We've had
universal service funds, where the money has not been expended, and where it has
been expended, it has not been expended wisely and efficiently. Instead, the
people who have been paying for the universal funds, the mobile networks, have
been connecting the world's poor at extraordinarily low prices and without the
support of universal service funds, for the most part.
So I am somewhat disheartened to hear again a failed public policy solution
being proposed, because I think it is much better, and you have much better
mainstreaming, when the business model that is being currently developed, that
is currently being implemented in the developing countries, where for very low
outputs of below five dollars U.S., people are being connected and companies are
making profits. Set standards for accessibility, for mobile networks, and for
the mobile broadband. If you do that, it will be a sustainable solution unlike
something where there are government bureaucrats in the middle and who are
putting inefficiency and delay into the entire system.
>>JONATHAN CHARLES: Thank you. Very interesting and just very swiftly, the
gentleman there, yes. here. A moment. Hold on a second. Let's make sure the
microphone of works. We'll get you another microphone. There we go. Okay. We
have a choice of microphones now. And that one doesn't work either. Okay. That
one is not working either. Can we get another microphone?
>>ABDOULAYE DIARRA: Okay.
>>JONATHAN CHARLES: Yes, now we can hear you.
>>ABDOULAYE DIARRA: Thank you very much. I'm from Mali. I am -- reported on
Question 2 to UIT. The issue is a very real one, the Question 20 to UIT. The
problem of access is a very real one at all levels, because there are many
people with handicaps. As was presented just now, we saw how someone who has
poor sight is able to use software and that it can be awkward if that software
does not exist.
In our developing countries, these situations are far worse. We do not have
the means to confront these very real problems for persons with disabilities.
The UIT -- the ITU has set up many activities for persons with disabilities. We
should look into these discussions so that there be standards relating to
persons with disabilities to see how developing countries might be able to give
access to persons with disabilities. The government finds this very difficult
to have financial resources for this.
We have many persons with disabilities, physical disabilities, those who are
blind, and we must recognize that everyone -- disability is not inability. Even
as we get older.
>>JONATHAN CHARLES: Okay. We --
>> Thank you very much, thank you very much.
>>JONATHAN CHARLES: We've taken your point.
>>TALAL ABU-GHAZALEH: I'll just respond to that. One statement to every
concern which has been laced which, of course, is correct. The approach -- and
this is the philosophy of the global alliance on ICT for development -- is a
multistakeholder approach. I cannot say that the service providers are doing
their job wonderfully so don't mess it up. I cannot say that bureaucracy is a
problem, so keep bureaucracy out. I cannot say that business is only
profit-oriented so let's not talk about business.
In this world, we are one society, and this society is made up of stakeholders.
All these stakeholders have their responsibilities and they should together
work in harmony in a public/private NGO spirit in order to produce solutions for
No single solution by one stakeholder will work, and is not advisable, and I
should not at all tolerate it in this -- in my own domain. Thank you, sir.
>>JONATHAN CHARLES: thank you, thank you. Quick 15 seconds from Andrea.
>>ANDREA SAKS: I'm very glad that that other speaker brought up the Universal
Fund. We are attempting at the ITU to work with three specific companies, one
of them -- we just came back from Mali, the speaker's home, Abdoulaye, who just
spoke about accessibility and disability. The idea is to use that Universal
Fund to set up training, and to be able to get people within the country to be
able to use ICTs, so we are thinking about using that Universal Fund, not just
for nothing. It's -- that's the place where we're going to try and get the
funding but we'll bring the expertise too. It is just not off the ground yet
but we are thinking along those lines and please see me afterwards. I'd like to
talk to you. Because I do agree with a lot of what you said and thank you for
bringing that particular issue up. Thank you very much.
>>JONATHAN CHARLES: Shadi, 10 seconds. Then we're moving on to
>>SHADI ABOU-ZAHRA: Yeah, just very briefly, on the level of standards, to
respond to that last gentleman from Mali, one of the key aspects for people with
disabilities is royalty-free standards that are available that allow affordable
and low-cost technologies to be produced, and this is lately essential to
providing the access and to lowering the costs.
>>JONATHAN CHARLES: Thank you. Let's move on to the other section that we're
looking at today, which is multilingualism. A whole new world is about to open
up with the change in domain names. Hundreds of millions of people, perhaps
billions of people, who were unable to enjoy the Internet before may now have
that opportunity, but it's not without challenges, of course.
Let me introduce our first speaker, Abdul Waheed Khan is the Assistant
Director-General for Communication and Information at UNESCO. He has taken the
lead on many of these issues at UNESCO. He's been heavily involved in this for
the past decade or so. Over to you.
>>ABDUL WAHEED KHAN: (Speaking in a non-English language).
This was just 10 minutes in my own language. How many of you really understood
this? Please raise your hand.
[Show of hands]
>>ABDUL WAHEED KHAN: So just to make the point that language ability or
disability can be a major factor. In such a large audience -- and I know that
there was many Indians who participated that may not be in -- I spoke in Hindi
language, very briefly.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is a barrier, no question. The chairman talked about
many other barriers: Disability, language issue. Clearly the question was
raised about poverty and many -- there are so many other barriers to
If you recall in my opening statement, the opening session, I talked about the
UNESCO advancing the notion of knowledge societies based on, number one, human
needs and human rights, and then on four fundamental principles of universal
access to information and knowledge, on freedom of expression, on cultural and
linguistic diversity and then quality education for all.
If you look at those four principles of building inclusive knowledge societies,
when you talk about human needs, is communication a fundamental human need?
The answer is obviously yes. Otherwise, Jonathan Charles will not have a job
Is that a -- is freedom of expression a fundamental human right? Indeed, it
Can you ensure cultural diversity? What is culture, if you take out language?
I'm not saying language is the only aspect of culture, and my organization, of
course, is known for celebrating cultural diversity. It -- the world will be a
very dull and boring place if we had just one culture, one language, one form of
human beings. The societies would be so homogenized that it would be not a very
interesting place to live, really.
When you talk about quality education for all, we know based on empirical
studies that the children who receive education in their mother tongue do much
better than those who are forced to learn in the language which is not their
So language clearly can be abling and disabling. The acquisition of it can be
-- now, clearly English is not my language, but I had to -- in order to do
things in life, I had to acquire this language.
Still, there are times when I look for words. I think in my own language and
look for an English word to express myself.
So language is part of my identity, who I am. It's part of everyone's
Needless to say, for education, for culture, for dissemination of scientific
information, the fundamental tool -- the tools come next but the means of
communication is the language to begin with.
But when we talk of access, the first images that come to mind are these
devices (indicating). But what is flowing through these devices, the other side
of the coin, what is it that people are accessing once you have? Yes, of
course, it is a necessary condition to have access to means of communication,
but when you try to link the -- the question was raised about what -- the
linkage between the language and disability issues with the Millennium
Development Goals. Whether it is universalization of primary education, gender
equity, health issues, environmental issues, all those eight Millennium
Development Goals, what is the common denominator for those development goals?
Flow of information and knowledge. Without flow of information and knowledge,
none of these, as Mr. Chairman very eloquently pointed out, we are very close to
say two-thirds of the 15-year -- of the 2015 mark and yet even official reports
compiled by the people who know better clearly suggest that many of these goals
are not going to be met.
Have we -- from two different examples of education and agriculture, can you
share with a farmer scientific innovations if that information is not available
to him in -- or her in the language that they can understand?
Can they apply that information to increase productivity? Can you educate the
-- even as we speak about 900 million people, adults, still are illiterate.
More than a hundred million children do not still receive education in schools.
So there are -- and the barrier, of course, one of the barriers, would be the
And when the language has failed, and as we know that in the -- in the last 500
years, half of the world's languages have disappeared. And -- but what is more
disturbing is that it is estimated that in the next hundred years, nearly 90% of
the world's 7,000 languages will become extinct. Is it not disturbing, really?
Is it not that you are -- if we do not take steps.
I have very strong faith in the ability of the human being to preserve, to
still work towards preserving these languages, but the fact is that according to
current estimates, 90% of the existing 7,000 languages will disappear now.
Is that loss in opportunities, in traditions, in memory, in unique modes of
thinking and expression? These are valuable resources that will be lost if
these languages are lost, so it is important, therefore, that action
collectively, as a global community, which is what this -- this forum is all
about, for us to create an enabling environment through policies and strategies
at the national level, at the regional level, and indeed at the international
level, so that the languages will flourish in the new cyberspace. If cyberspace
is the fastest growing space -- and we all know that that is indeed the case --
in cyberspace today, there are less than 100 languages available. And Mr.
Chairman, you pointed out that some of the oldest civilizations, you cannot call
them as diverse because they contributed to the -- to the knowledge and wisdom
that the societies benefit from. Some people are convinced that knowledge was
created in the last 200 years or 300 years.
>>JONATHAN CHARLES: Some people think it was the last ten years, I think.
>>ABDUL WAHEED KHAN: So the thing is if you do not preserve the indigenous
knowledge of so many societies, and if that knowledge is available in local
languages only, what do you do if do you not -- would that not be lost if you do
not have the means?
Fortunately, we have the means. Digital preservation is now available; can be
applied and used.
So my organization, UNESCO, celebrates cultural and linguistic diversity. And
it has taken several steps. Of course we, as an intergovernmental international
agency, we have adopted UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity which
talks about -- which recognizes cultural diversity as part of common heritage of
humanity, and an endless source of new ideas and creative development.
I think we must recognize that that is -- that is -- Languages need to be
safeguarded for the sake of present and for future generation. Again, clearly
not a very profound statement but a very relevant one, indeed.
A strong correlation between cultural diversity and linguistic diversity.
As I said earlier, you take out language, and what is the means of cultural
And many problems in society today, especially conflicts in societies, is
primarily because some people believe that their voices are not heard, that they
don't have means of self-expression.
Now, if that self-expression is not in the language, could you call that
cultural self-expression? Obviously not.
People who do not have voices, if they do not have voices to express themselves
in the language that they feel comfortable that they are at ease with, is that
not a barrier? Of course it is.
And is that -- Can that be a potential source of conflict? Of course it can
So it is important, therefore, for us, as a global community, to take steps.
To -- Not only to preserve the knowledge available in so many languages of the
world and promote, as we have now taken some steps in terms of technological
development, to ensure that the languages flourish and that we are able to
communicate in the language that people feel comfortable with.
>>JONATHAN CHARLES: Abdul Waheed Khan, thank you very much, indeed. Very,
very important points.
[ Applause ]
>>JONATHAN CHARLES: Abdulaziz Al-Zoman, I am going to call on you next, from
the Saudi Network Information Center. Very heavily involved in domain name
issues and also what is going to be part of the big explosion, one hopes, online
of Arabic language availability on the Internet.
Over to you.
Can we make sure the microphone is working there at the podium, please.
>>ABDULAZIZ AL-ZOMAN: I will be talking about domain names and what we have
done so far in that part. And what are the challenges in front of us.
We know that just recently ICANN announced the opening of accepting top-level
domains on other languages than just ASCII.
Are we there to really deal with Arabic languages or Arab script-based
languages? So this presentation is about that case.
So I will start with a little bit with the question.
I know now this question is we are behind that question. Everyone knows the
importance of IDN to our, like, regions and our communities.
So to understand that question, we have to look to some of the statistics.
We have about 17% Internet penetration in the Arab world. And our region is
the fastest growth with respect to the number of users and the Internet. We are
the fastest number of users of Internet because the Internet was a little bit
late on our regions.
And back home in Saudi Arabia, when we did a study about the usage or top of
operating system used by the users, we found that 80% of operating system used
in education are only in Arabic. And 73% are used by individuals in the
household. So that means really the language is very important to the user.
The Web site they are visiting are mainly -- you could see like from the
contents, it's in Arabic. 65% of the Web site, like, visited has 75 and more
Now, in our region, what we have done with respect to Arabic domain names?
First, we listed a number of the linguistic issues regarding the domain names,
and we discussed and we reached conclusions. And through a long process, a
number of committees has been created and discussed these issues.
We did some surveys on the Internet, collect like feedback from the users. And
we consulted a number of experts from linguist point of view. And all these
results have been handed to an Arabic team for Arabic domain names and the Arab
League who have published these recommendations and the language table for
Arabic language on RFC 5564.
So we have now working documents that reference all the language table for our
Other things that we have done. Since 2005, we had a pilot project for Arabic
domain names in which that we really tested the usage of Arabic domain names on
the Internet, in which that we also developed a number of tools that help us to
work with Arabic domain names, like, for example, IDN registry symbol, IDN
registry, DNS checker, Web-based WHOIS and so on.
Therefore, we were able to test the usage of Arabic domain names on the
But are we there? Do we have, still, challenges on this front? Yes, we have a
lot of challenges to really overcome these things to provide a very good like
working domain -- Arabic domain names to the users.
Where ICANN opened test for the IDN TLD test example, dot test and the
equivalent in Arabic called (speaking in Arabic), we did extensive test on this
one for ten applications, mainly on Web browser and e-mail applications, and for
four different operating systems as well as a number of web-based e-mail.
And on this test, we listed all the test cases. We have 13, like, test cases
to all these applications. And we find most of them failed the test. They have
a lot of problem to deal with the Arabic language.
And we published the report.
When we expand our look not only to the Arabic language but to the whole Arabic
script to work, because a number of registries, a number of Web services will
provide their registration in Arabic script rather than just only one language.
So there are a number of issues we have to face and have to look at. And some
of these issues have not been dealt at the protocol. They have been left to the
registry to look after it. And this is really a worry for us because the
registry might deal with these issues differently so that we will have different
registration systems which deal with different issues in different ways. And
then the user will have different experiences with domain name registration in
Arabic script-based domain names.
I will just show you some of the examples.
One of them is what is called zero width nonjoiner control character. This
control character is not visible. You cannot see it on the screen by itself,
but it has some effects on how the characters get connected together. In this
example, you can see the effect is there, I could see it because when I said
that character after the letter heh in Arabic, I could see there is something
that forced the heh not to connect to the next character. But unfortunately,
you can't see it in other locations. I have already inserted it there. It
cannot be seen. So this could be a good ground for phishing. And that has not
been solved at the protocol level. They just left it to the registry to look at
Other problems is the digits. We have a number of digits being used in the
Arabic script. One is the Arabic-Indic and one is the eastern Arabic-Indic
digits. And they almost look alike on all digits except for three or four.
So if you type these numbers, you could -- the user could get confused because
they have different codes, but the look are similar.
So this is really another problem from security point of view. So it had to be
addressed. And also this is left from the protocol. It says it has to be
handled at the registry level.
Another dimension with respect to Arabic, in the screen you should have seen
actually the digits in Arabic, written in Arabic and digits written in Latin,
but you have seen the same format. You have seen little difference just because
the laptop I am using does not support Arabic letters. So you could see the
Microsoft operating system deal with the digit differently from other operating
system. Regardless what you type, it will be displayed based on the system --
the language you define in the system. So you can't really -- you can't
sometimes type the digits you want. So this is another dimension.
Users using Linux or Macs will have different ways of writing the digits than
the users on Microsoft.
The biggest problems also is the confusing similar characters. In the Arabic
scripts there are a number of letters that are used in different languages --
for example in Farsi or Urdu or something -- they have the same shape, but they
have different codes. So for example, in this screen you have the word kela
(phonetic) in Arabic. I wrote that one on two different keyboards, one the
Arabic keyboard and the other one is in other keyboard. So the little kaf which
is the red color is -- has been typed in different codes.
So this is really also a security problem.
It's not only one letter. If you look to the whole Unicode tables, there are a
number of, like, you know, letters that have similarity on the look, on the
shape. And they are differently used on -- in different languages. And
sometimes you can't even type it in certain languages, because keyboards are
language based. It's not like script based.
So if I have domain names called (saying names), then like our friends in
Pakistan or India or Malaysia, they will not be able to type that domain name
because the keyboard they have, they have the letter kaf with different codes.
So the solution of that one is to have the variants. And we actually propose a
solution for that one which will allow you to, like, you know, to have all the
variants. Like all the confusingly similar characters to be combined together
in one master key for the domain names.
And when you register that one, you will block all, and allow like all the
other forms of the variants to that domain names.
I will not go in details on this solution. This solution will be presented in
our workshop about the Arabic script IDNs that will be done tomorrow, and I
invite anyone who is interested in the solution to attend this workshop.
Thank you very much.
>>JONATHAN CHARLES: Thank you, Abdulaziz. Thank you very much, indeed.
Obviously some of the challenges that lie ahead in expanding domain names.
Dwayne Bailey, I think you will probably look at some of those challenges as
well, linguistic challenges.
Dwayne is from ANLoc, the African Network for Localization.
>>DWAYNE BAILEY: (No audio)
>>JONATHAN CHARLES: We aren't hear the microphone here.
>>DWAYNE BAILEY: Is this better? Okay. Let's use this one.
What I said was there are numbers for the lottery, so if you got them, you are
a winner. No.
So I am Dwayne Bailey. I am from South Africa. The vision of ANLoc is to
empower Africans to participate in the digital age by removing barriers imposed
on language by the limitations of technology. And it's a group of us all around
Africa addressing these various things.
In South Africa, we have 11 official languages. So I think in trying to
implement and seeing how governments can implement multilingual -- a
multilingual dispensation, shall we call it, I am acutely aware of the problems
and the benefits of it.
But I wanted to start with an example of the importance of language. And I'd
ask you to pay attention because this could save your life. So I will say it
(speaking in non-English language.)
So did everyone get that? No? I will say it a bit louder and slower so that
it's easier for you to track.
(speaking in non-English language.)
Okay. So you have just lost a bit of information that could save you from
dying from HIV/AIDS. But it was inaccessible to you. And I think you can
understand from that example the inverse of publishing information in English
and hoping that people who don't speak English could assimilate and use that
So the lack of information -- The lack of access to information, and I mean
access as in actually being able to use it, not that you have got a computer on
your desk. The lack of access to information is life threatening. It threatens
your ability to stay healthy. It threatens your ability to access government
services. It affects whether your children will have a good education and a
good job so it affects your socioeconomics, your health, and your general
welfare. So it's an important thing.
And when we look at an audience like this, it's clear that at some level, we
all care about multilingualism. So we are either are multilingual or we know
people that are multilingual. So some of our best friends are multilingual. We
can express it like that.
And it's on the WSIS agenda. We talk about linguistic and cultural diversity.
UNESCO talks about it a lot. In a lot of the sessions I have been to, issues of
language have come up, how to do IDNs, et cetera.
But my concern is that it's not at the forefront of our agenda. And there are
two aspects I want to look at with that. I will call it the last billion and
the fact that everything that we are doing rests on this issue of
So the last billion or more, because there are a lot of people who have no
access to the Internet, looking at it from an African context, I have that there
are 6,000 languages in the world, UNESCO tells us there are 7,000 but we will
not argue about those languages. There are lots of languages in the world.
There are 2,000 spoken by a billion people in Africa.
And about 200 of those languages in Africa have more than half a million
speakers. So a significant population will speak at least one of 200 languages
There are 15 languages in Africa that have more than 10 million speakers each.
And almost none of those are present in any significant way in the information
So that people who need multilingualism the most are the people that we haven't
reached yet, and the people that can benefit so much from the kind of
information we talk about.
If we look at the use of the Internet in Africa, and I don't have data for all
the other places, all the other continents, but the predominance of languages
that people are browsing are English and French. So it seems to indicate that
the people that are accessing this information age are people that are already
enabled through access to a language like English and French and Arabic to be
part of this. But the rest are ignored.
So clearly for the last billion, it's not an option for multilingualism. It's
imperative that we address it.
On the aspect of everything resting on top of multilingualism, the words and
phrases I have heard over the last few days include things like this:
inclusive, knowledge societies, pluralistic, equitable, create, share, diffuse,
preserve, linguistic diversity, flow of ideas, increasing knowledge. And all of
these things are possible in a mono culture, in a mono lingual environment. But
it seems in all the sessions I have been to, it's implied that all these
benefits are meant for all of humanity. And it's impossible without
multilingualism being a first priority. It's not going to benefit all of
humanity if we don't make it a priority.
And there's a lot in terms of the sessions I have been to, there's a lot
assumed about what we can do. There's assumptions that all languages can
actually be typed, and there are languages that you can't type and capture at
The software is predominantly not available in these languages, so there is the
assumption that it is or people haven't thought down that road of thinking you
have people who don't speak a certain language having to capture on digital
equipment that they can't use.
There is an assumption we actually can store these languages. And I would like
to address just one thing. Multilingualism is not IDNs. IDNs are one aspect of
multilingualism. And there is the danger which I think we need to think about,
is that IDNs could create silos of mono lingualism. A multilingual world of
mono lingualism. And we need to think quite seriously about how we address that
and prevent that from happening and ensure the free flow of ideas.
But I think it's quite important to also show and to talk about what is
happening and what people are doing in the space that is lead to go multilingual
Firstly ourselves at ANLoc, we have developed keyboards that allow people to
type African languages that they couldn't type before. We have developed
extended fonts that people can actually see what they wrote. And we are
translating the Firefox Web browser into ten languages, which opens up the
opportunity for people who are not literate in French to capture information in
wallup (phonetic). We are looking at a hundred locales across Africa which
allows people to store documents and information in languages.
We are training people on how to translate and localize content, make it
relevant for their environment.
We are building tools that allow people to create content and translate
content. We are making spell checkers, because there is nothing as negative for
a language as seeing it all underlined in red, and basically your computer
communicating to you that your language is irrelevant in the communication age.
It is important is what I would call this broad swath of multilingualism.
The consortium is working really hard at making sure we can store all of these
languages. Machine translation from the likes of Google and Microsoft, making
sure that people can actually access information in other languages. Microsoft
is translating their operating system into African and other languages. And
Firefox's efforts to have 80 versions of Firefox in different languages.
Groups like Global Voices who are ensuring that blogs are translated and that
there is a cross-pollination between communities. Organizations like Medan
(phonetic) helping to ensure there is dialogue between the Arabic and the
English speaking world. And I'm sure you are tell me and remind me of many
others I have forgotten. If you are interested in this I would invite you to
the workshop at 2:30 which is equality and access to the knowledge society
through language and cultural diversity and it's in room 9.
So just in closing, from me, multilingualism I feel should be our first
priority, as the fulfillment of the things that we envision rests on
multilingualism. And without that, the phrase, "You have the right to remain
silent" might take on a very different meaning.
[ Applause ]
>>JONATHAN CHARLES: Dwayne, thank you very much. Thank you. Is that what
you say in Afrikaans? I don't know what you say in Afrikaans.
We are going to close this in a couple of minutes but before we have the
chairman's closing remarks, I want to ask you for your comments on what we just
heard on multilingualism.
Again, put up your hand. I will take two or three questions from the floor, if
there are questions from the floor on this.
Gentleman at the back, yes. I think a microphone is on its way to you.
If you could say who you are, that would be great.
>>TAREK KHALIL: Thank you very much. Tarek Khalil, president of Nile
I would like to address a couple of issues that seem to be missing in the
discussion. And I'm going to actually speak as a professor of human factors
People are talking about you disabilities a lot. And there is no absolute
disabilities. There are functional abilities, and essentially they relate to
the demands placed by the task required.
So what's being addressed to a great extent are certain abilities. In a sense,
all of us are disabled if we are not relating to what is being presented to us.
So I'd like to pose the proposal that we have to put some pressure on the
designers and on the technology. It's really a human technology interaction
that we are talking about.
And if so, then we are talking about human-centered designs, where the
designers of the Web itself as well as of the information and the pages and
everything that goes along with it, we have to put pressure on them to actually
design and bring information in an easy way that it can be used by everyone.
So the issue of multilingualism or the issues of disability or the issues of
any of the ones that we have talked about in here are really related to what we
So the pressure has to come on the other end, not only on issues of
accessibility, and accessibility will have to be defined by the technology.
So it's a technology issue more than anything else, where we can solve most of
these problems. And I would like to see some sort of pressure put on the
technologies that is designed --
>>JONATHAN CHARLES: All right. Okay. Thank you very much. I got that point.
Thank you. And the gentleman there, yes.
>>REINHARD SCHÄLER: My name is Reinhard Schäler. I'm director of the
Localisation Research Centre in Ireland.
We just set up a foundation called the Rosetta Foundation that will allow
volunteer translators to -- and technologists to come together to offer
translation services to digital publishers. And I really liked the point that
Dwayne Bailey made, and I want to re-emphasize that.
You know, translation, or lack of localization is not just a "nice to have."
It's not something that, you know, we would like to express ourselves in our own
words, in our own culture, but it's something that is a question of life and
death, and as such, it should really be elevated to a much higher level. You
know, it should be at the same level as, you know, the fight against AIDS,
malaria, and tuberculosis and I think that in a sense, the industry has given a
lead there. There is a localization industry that is worth 16 billion U.S.
dollars. The pity is that, you know, that industry works for the people who
have the money. They do it for commercial purposes. So we need an initiative
that does localization, not for commercial purposes but for political, cultural,
social, and developmental services.
And lastly, localization translation, and lack of it, is not just a matter of
the developing world. It's also a matter for the developed world. It's a
matter for the global south and the global north and the distinction between the
two should really be, you know, done away with. Thank you.
>>JONATHAN CHARLES: Thank you very much. Yes, the gentleman here halfway down
on the right-hand side.
>>JEAN-JACQUES SUBRENAT: Good morning. My name is Jean-Jacques Subrenat and
I'm a member of the ICANN directorate and I have two comments.
The first one has to do with the use of the expression "multilingualism," the
term itself. It's partially accurate. We should be talking about linguistic
diversity instead, because multilingualism is the capacity of a person, a single
person, or an entity to speak several languages. So I do prefer the term
Now, the second point is as follows: I think that we are living in a new world
with the introduction of IDNs, international domain names, and I simply wanted
to point out here that of course we have to make further progress, and I'm
grateful to the representative of Saudi Arabia for having showed very clearly,
using examples, what difficulties are still outstanding, and they will have to
But I wanted to underscore how important it is for the communities such as
represented here at the IGF to express their view, their opinion, their advice.
If the introduction of IDNs became possible -- it became largely thanks to your
insistence on this, and thanks to your advice. It's thanks to that that ICANN
managed to put that through. Thank you.
>>JONATHAN CHARLES: Thank you for that. I'm sorry we don't have time for
anymore comments from the floor. I'd like to thank our panel and to bring this
first part of the debate to an end, I'd like to call on our chairman, Talal, to
make a few closing comments. His observations, and also to call for acclamation
for the message from (inaudible).
>>TALAL ABU-GHAZALEH: Thank you. I would like, with your permission, before I
submit what I would like you to adopt as a conclusion of this session, I would
like to respond to the point on multilingualism. Yes, we indeed are talking
about multilingualism because we want the Internet to be multilingual. Exactly
like you said when you talk about multilingualism of a person, you want them to
talk many languages. So it is that, and this is why we want the language -- the
Internet to become multilingual, so that we don't have a fragmentation of the
Internet because I will then go for my Arabic Internet, my Chinese Internet, and
So my drive for multilingualism -- and I've been a very ardent spokesman of
multilingualism for the last 30 years -- is because we need to have one Internet
which can speak many languages.
So having said that, let me come to the concluding remarks.
>>TALAL ABU-GHAZALEH: I move that -- I move that with your permission, and if
you agree, I would like an expression of applause at the end in support of what
I would like to say.
I move we endorse, by acclamation, and request that what we approve be included
in the conference proceedings:
One, to applaud with great admiration the Egyptian efforts towards the
development of an Egyptian knowledge society led by the most able minister of
ICT, His Excellency Tarek Kamel, and we want that to be --
>>TALAL ABU-GHAZALEH: -- minuted and conveyed into the -- in the proceedings
to express how we all, I think unanimously, agree is a great model of
development in a knowledge society that we are seeing in Egypt.
Number two, to adopt the excellent message on accessibility of persons with
disabilities presented by the Dynamic Coalition on Accessibility and Disability.
It is a very clear, candid, and well-studied document which addresses one of
the diversities or one of the barriers, but also addresses, exactly as I said,
the many other barriers in disability.
Number three, to encourage ICANN to accelerate its process on
multilingualization and to make it a priority in order to ensure the continued
coherence of the Internet.
Thank you very much.
>>JONATHAN CHARLES: Thank you very much, Talal.
>>TALAL ABU-GHAZALEH: In closing, in closing, I would like, with your
permission, to not only thank our great moderator for an excellent job, but also
to thank him personally because it gave me the privilege of sitting on the
podium next to a media celebrity. Thank you.
>>JONATHAN CHARLES: I had the privilege of sitting next to you. That was much
nicer for me, actually.
>>TALAL ABU-GHAZALEH: Thank you very much.
>>JONATHAN CHARLES: Thank you. And thank you to you for taking part. Thank
you to our distinguished panel. Stay where you are. The next section is on
access and the panel will be coming up and the moderator and chairman right now.