Technology failing disabled net surfers: forum

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Technology should be harnessed better to give the world's estimated 650 million disabled people improved access to the Internet, experts said here on Tuesday.

"One of the fundamental problems has been not consulting persons with disabilities when designing technologies," Cynthia Waddel of the Dynamic Coalition on Accessibility and Disability (DADC) told AFP.

Speaking at the Internet Governance Forum in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, she stressed people with disabilities faced challenges of connectivity, affordability and accessible design.

DADC presented the forum a paper calling for more "education and training on accessibility and the consultation of persons with disabilities throughout all stages of design."

Gerry Ellis, a consultant in the same field who is blind, used the forum to demonstrate two versions of the same website, one with technology that assists the disabled and one for the general public.

"It can be just as aesthetically pleasing but just as functional," Ellis said of the website with the accessibility requirements.

This year's governance forum has brought together more than 1,500 representatives of government, advocacy groups, non-governmental organisations and the private sector to discuss the future of the Internet.

Its third day was focused primarily on providing access to the Internet to millions of people who face constraints of language, connectivity, cost or disability.