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 Report on World Telecommunication Policy Forum (WTPF 2009)

Submitted by Cynthia D. Waddell, Juris Doctor

Executive Director and Law, Policy and Technology Subject Matter Expert

International Center for Disability Resources on the Internet

World Telecommunication Policy Forum (WTPF), Lisbon Portugal 22-24 April 2009

Lisbon, Portugal was the venue of the World Telecommunication Policy Forum in 2009 for a global discussion of strategies and policies of high current policy interest in the changing telecommunication environment.

It was a privilege to serve as the accessibility expert on the U.S. Department of State Delegation and to participate in a forum where four key issues were discussed:

1)    Convergence and Internet-related public policy matters;

2)    Next generation networks;

3)    Emerging telecommunication policy and regulatory issues; and

4)    International Telecommunication Regulations.

Of particular interest was the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Secretary-General’s Report for the World Telecommunication Policy Forum and the accessibility provisions it did not contain.  At the request of my delegation, I submitted the report language that is now found in Section 5: Emerging Telecommunication Policy & Regulatory Issues at 5.3.8 “Accessible ICT (Information and Communications Technology) for Persons with Disabilities.”

In a forum where this report was subject to editing by the ITU Member States, it was wonderful to see that the policy issues and language that I submitted for this section was accepted as written.  See Report at http://www.itu.int/osg/csd/wtpf/wtpf2009/sg-report.html.

Perhaps the most visible acknowledgement of accessibility during the Forum was the ground-breaking provision of real time captioning for the first time.  It was during the preparatory meetings in Geneva, Switzerland, that ITU first began to offer real-time captioning services so that I could participate due to my hearing loss.  Yet it was during these Geneva preparatory meetings that we learned first-hand that captioning was also assisting delegations whose mother tongue was not English.  It also certainly was helpful to have the captioning transcript available for reference after the deliberations.

Picture of meeting  with Real Time Captioning system


I found Lisbon and its people to be a beautiful and very friendly City.  Seeing their 25 de Abril Bridge and the Christo Rei made me wonder if I was both in San Francisco and Rio de Janeiro at the same time!  Take a look at this picture and judge for yourself!

Picture of 25 de Abril Bridge and the Christo Rei



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