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SCED's speech at ICT Symposium on e-Accessibility (English only) (with photo)

     Following is the speech by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, at the ICT Symposium on e-Accessibility today (November 24):

Mr Chong (President of Hong Kong Blind Union, Mr Chong Chan-yau), Hon Mok (Legislative Council member, Mr Charles Mok), Mr Lam (Chief Executive Officer of Hong Kong Cyberport Management Company Limited, Mr Herman Lam), Ms (Michiko) Tabata , Mr (Arnt) Holte, ladies and gentlemen,

     Good morning! It gives me great pleasure to join you all today at the "World Blind Union - Mid-Term Regional General Assembly 2014". My heartiest congratulations to the Hong Kong Blind Union for hosting the ICT symposium on e-Accessibility. The Blind Union provides tremendous support for the visually impaired so that they may live fulfilling and active lives. I commend the excellent job the Union has been doing.

     Today is an excellent platform to share the latest technological adoption and barrier-free aids for the visually impaired community. And by doing so, we may help our visually impaired friends to actively participate in society, to contribute, and to regain confidence.

     Sight is a precious gift, and is something we all take for granted until we lose it. I have tried at times to be a guide runner for my friends who are visually challenged. It is truly a privilege to play my small part in helping the visually impaired.

     I learn from the limited experience that the most disempowering issues faced by the visually impaired are the loss of independence and the need for physical assistance with everyday tasks.

     That is why I am really glad to learn today from the meeting and the exhibition the various assistive tools that empower the lives of the visually impaired. I am impressed by the screen and machine reading software that gives visibility to the visually impaired reading community, and the two dimensional code technology and apps that enhance access to printed information. All these technologies make the everyday tasks more accessible and, as a result, empower the visually impaired to take a more active role in our society.

     Hong Kong has all along been a digital inclusive society. We are committed to fostering the continual development of the e-accessibility for people in need. For example, we promote the wider adoption of web accessibility design in both public and private websites. The goal is to make it easier for the visually impaired to access the online services and information. Also, we provide funding support for developing IT-based assistive tools and applications that cater for persons with different kinds of disabilities.

     Vision is not just about having a clear sight. Last summer I saw this phrase on the wall of a restaurant in North America and I was immediately struck by its profound wisdom: "There is beauty in the common place for those with eyes to see beyond." Vision is indeed not just having a clear sight. It is about appreciation of beauty in the common place for those with the insights to make the world a better place.

     Today, as we are drawn together with a common goal, made possible by the advance in technology, may our discussion on e-accessibility be but a celebration in the attainment of that noble goal, the beauty of which is so wonderful and rich for all of us to behold.

     Thank you very much!

Ends/Monday, November 24, 2014
Issued at HKT 13:40


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