International Telecommunication Union (ITU) announced 90 Champions around the world for the prestigious WSIS Prizes 2017 contest. DAISY-standard Accessible Reading Materials for Students with Visual and Print Disabilities project by the Access to Information (a2i) Programme, Prime Minister’s Office, Bangladesh, in partnership with YPSA has been rewarded as champion by the UN World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Prizes 2017.
345 ICT success stories from around the world were nominated for the Online Voting Phase (30 March – 30 April) following a comprehensive review by the Expert Group of 467 submitted projects submitted by the WSIS Stakeholder community. Based on the results of the intensive Online Voting Phase, which saw over 1.1 million votes cast by WSIS stakeholders, a selection of winning projects was made by the Expert Group.
In Bangladesh, around 37% of the population (35% illiterate and 2% visually impaired) are falling behind in society because of inaccessibility to reading materials. With the support of a2i’s Service Innovation Fund, the YPSA (Young Power in Social Action) has developed DAISY standard accessible reading materials for students of class 1 to 10 which are handed over to visually impaired students every year on Textbook Day (1st of January) by the Honorable Prime Minister. This has made primary and secondary education inclusive (SDG 4.a) and accessible for all girls and boys (SDG 4.1), and contributed to improving literacy and numeracy among the user groups (SDG 4.6).
WSIS Prizes is a unique international contest developed in response to requests from the WSIS stakeholders to create an effective mechanism to evaluate and recognize individuals, governments, civil society, local, regional and international agencies, research institutions and private-sector companies for outstanding success in implementing development oriented strategies that leverage the power of ICTs as an enabler of the development. The WSIS Prizes contest is an integral part of the WSIS stocktaking process; set up in 2004 to assist WSIS implementation and follow-up. The contest was held for the first time in 2012, and rapidly gained attention and popularity within the ICT for Development (ICT4D) community.
Building upon the outcomes of the United Nations General Assembly Overall Review on WSIS as well as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the WSIS Prizes 2016 reflect close linkages with achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The WSIS Prizes contest serves as the platform for identifying and showcasing the success stories across the WSIS Action Lines defined in the Geneva Plan of Action and SDGs. It also provides us with models that can be replicated in the interests of empowering the community at the local level, providing everyone with an opportunity to participate in the contest and, most importantly, recognizing the efforts made by stakeholders to contribute to the development of society and their commitment to achievement of both the WSIS goals and SDGs.