Thursday, June 22, 2006

Internet for all: EU ministers commit to an inclusive and barrier-free information society

Another step toward making websites accessible for all ...

"A pan-European drive to use information and communication technologies to help people to overcome economic, social, educational, territorial or disability-related disadvantages was endorsed by ministers of 34 European countries in Riga (Latvia) today. "e-Inclusion" targets include halving the gap in internet usage by groups at risk of exclusion, boosting broadband coverage in Europe to at least 90%, and making all public web sites accessible by 2010.

Welcoming the ministers' undertaking, Information Society and Media Viviane Reding said: "Many Europeans still get too little benefit from information and communication technologies, and millions are at risk of being left behind. Enabling all Europeans to participate on equal terms in the information society is not only a social necessity – it is a huge economic opportunity for industry. By implementing their Riga undertakings, European countries will take a big step towards making e-inclusion a reality.”

The Riga Ministerial Declaration, signed today by ministers from EU Member States, accession and candidate countries, and EFTA/EEA countries, sets out the following specific targets:

- halve the gap in internet usage by 2010 for groups at risk of exclusion, such as older people, people with disabilities, and unemployed persons,

- increase broadband coverage (i.e. the availability of broadband infrastructure) in Europe to at least 90% by 2010. In 2005, broadband was available to about 60% of businesses and households in the remote and rural areas of the EU15 and to more than 90% in the urban areas; see IP/06/340),

- ensure that all public websites are accessible by 2010"   continued ...   (Via EUROPA)

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