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The Digital Accessibility Recognition Scheme 2024-2025 is now open for registration

29 December 2023

The Digital Accessibility Recognition Scheme 2024-2025 is now open for registration

Broadening the dimension of digital inclusion, realizing the concept of smart cities, and expanding the audience's daily needs.

 

Hong Kong, 29th December 2023 - Hong Kong Internet Registration Corporation Limited (HKIRC) today announced that the "Digital Accessibility Recognition Scheme" (DARS) 2024-2025 is now open for application. All local businesses and organizations, including private companies, non-governmental organisations, academic institutions, and public organisations, are welcome to participate. Participating organisations in the scheme will receive free assessment and consultancy services to assist in enhancing the accessibility features of their websites and mobile applications. Websites and mobile applications that are assessed and meet the evaluation criteria will be awarded relevant recognition.

 

To further strengthen digital accessibility practices in smart cities and to ensure that digital infrastructures, applications and webpages are equipped with accessibility features, the scheme has officially been renamed from the "Web Accessibility Recognition Scheme" to the "Digital Accessibility Recognition Scheme." This name more appropriately reflects the significance of promoting the goal of digital inclusion, not limited to web pages alone but covering a wider scope to fulfill the needs of the digital society. We encourage businesses and organisations to optimize their web pages and applications while undergoing digital transformation, taking into account the development of digital inclusion to ensure that all citizens can benefit from the various conveniences brought by the digital economy in smart city development.

 

Realizing the concept of smart cities, building a digital inclusive future

 

Mr Wong Ka Wai, Chairman of the DARS Advisory Committee for 2024-2025, stated, "Since its launch, the scheme has been actively promoting web inclusivity, encouraging businesses and organisations to optimize web and mobile application design to cater to the needs of different individuals in society and gradually transform the Internet into a barrier-free platform, with visible achievements. With the accelerated digitization in recent years, the channels for citizens to receive information have expanded from traditional web pages to various mobile applications." According to statistics from the Office of the Communications Authority, the penetration rate of mobile services among telecommunications service subscribers has reached 307.5i , indicating that digital living has transcended the internet and mobile applications have become an integral part of life. At the same time, to fully implement the concept of smart cities, the scheme also hopes to expand to different digital infrastructure, such as adding accessible facilities like digitally interactive mall electronic signboards with inclusive functions, in order to build an accessible smart city and explore the future of digital inclusion.

 

Expanding simultaneously at the enterprise and individual levels, advancing towards a fully inclusive society

 

Looking back at the achievements of the previous scheme, the number of applications from participating organisations reached a new high, an increase of nearly 20% compared to the previous year, with nearly 96% of the applications receiving recognition. The active participation of various industries is also encouraging, with more banks joining the scheme and a more enthusiastic response from the media sector. People with special needs find it easier to use various online services essential in their daily lives, making life more convenient. The response from the industry demonstrates that the promotional goals of the scheme are gradually being achieved, successfully raising awareness in society and garnering greater attention to people with special needs, allowing them to enjoy the same conveniences.

 

The scope of the "Digital Accessibility Recognition Scheme" will be expanded, starting from the aspects of clothing, food, housing, transportation, and other areas of concern to citizens, encouraging businesses in relevant industries to participate in the scheme. The purpose of renaming the scheme is to attract new vibrant participants to join the promotion of digital inclusion.

 

In addition, the scheme will also expand its target audience to include the needs of the elderly. With Hong Kong facing an aging population, while promoting the "Digital Accessibility Recognition Scheme," the scheme will prioritize serving the elderly, encouraging the consideration of their needs when designing web pages and applications, such as simplified layouts and adjustable text sizes. This can help them adapt more easily to the digital lifestyle and enjoy a fulfilling and interesting golden age.

 

HKIRC has been organising the scheme since 2018 to promote accessible web design. It is also co-organised by the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer and advised by the Equal Opportunities Commission. The Advisory Committee comprises members from different sectors, including chambers of commerce, associations, and organisations for people with disabilities. Aiming to raise awareness among the younger generation of the importance of digital accessibility, this year, Association of I.T. Leaders in Education has been invited as a new member. Chairman Mr Wong Ka Wai expresses gratitude for the support of all members, which not only makes the scheme more comprehensive and accepted but also further promotes the scheme at different levels of society.

 

To apply and learn more details, please visit the website www.digital-accessibility.hk.

 

i Office of the Communications Authority: https://www.ofca.gov.hk/en/news_info/data_statistics/key_stat/index.html, mobile subscriber penetration rate (as at August 2023).