1.1 What are accessible ICTs

Accessible Information and communication technologies (ICTs) have the potential to provide persons with disabilities unprecedented levels of access to education, skills training and employment, as well as the opportunity to participate in the economic, cultural and social life of their community.

ICTs encompass a wide range of hardware and software, devices and computers, formats and systems that enable communication through electronic means. The definition of ICT covers everything from the storage, processing and retrieval of electronic information to the array of devices and software used to retrieve this information, as well as those used to communicate, in real-time, with other people. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities4 defines communications to include

“Languages, display of text, Braille, tactile communication, large print, accessible multimedia as well as written, audio, plain-language, human-reader and augmentative and alternative modes, means and formats of communication, including accessible information and communication technology”5

 An accessible ICT product or service is one that can be used by all its intended users, taking into account their differing capabilities. A person's ability to make inputs (e.g. type in text) and perceive outputs (e.g. read text on a screen) may be impaired. This can be either permanent or temporary, and may be due to various physical, mental or environmental conditions.6

4Full text of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is available here: http://www.un.org/disabilities/default.asp?navid=13&pid=150
5Article 2 Definitions
6http://universaldesign.ie/useandapply/ict/universaldesignforict/introductiontoaccessibility#introduction