Arab countries were among the first to sign and ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The implementation of these rights as part of a sustainable transformative disability inclusion is supported by the United Nations Disability Inclusion Strategy, which aims to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). According to the World Health Organization,[1] 1 billion people live with some form of disability, with almost 60 million in Arab countries. Consequently, the United Nations has launched many initiatives to promote the inclusion of persons with disabilities through information and communications technology (ICT).

Article 9 of CRPD clearly requires countries to enable persons with disabilities to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life. It stipulates that States parties should take appropriate measures to ensure access for persons with disabilities, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transport and ICT. Article 4 calls for the development of universally accepted standards and guidelines.

The present report offers templates for technical accessibility guidelines to assist Arab countries in providing equally accessible ICT services and applications for persons with disabilities, in accordance with international standards and best practices, to fulfil their commitments under CRPD.

This work complements a parallel project to develop a template for national policies on digital accessibility to enable policymakers to fulfil CRPD commitments. This would allow governmental and non-governmental organizations to work in a coherent and coordinated manner to accelerate the inclusion of persons with disabilities in society.

The first section of the present report reviews e-accessibility for persons with disabilities at the global level, and provides a number of international standards and guidelines and best practices adopted by various countries that have made significant efforts to include persons with disabilities using digital accessibility. The second part explores the status of e-accessibility in the Arab region, and highlights the challenges facing accessibility from the Arab point of view and opportunities to further advance the adoption of e-accessibility and the inclusion of persons with disabilities as a part of the digital transformation in the region. The report also showcases the status of e-accessibility in Oman and Qatar, which are ranked among the top countries worldwide in that regard.

The final section presents four e-accessibility guideline templates to help policymakers decide on the best level of compliance. The proposed templates offer gradual adoption options, beginning with the lowest acceptable recommendations. The templates are based on internationally approved and recognized standards and best practices. The standards are organized around four principles of e-content, known as POUR: perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust.