Omani government promises better online news access for expats and the dis

Published:  18 Dec at 6 PM
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Oman’s government has announced it’s working on ways to improve online news access for readers with disabilities and non-Arab speaking expatriates.

According to the Omani minister for information, providing efficient internet access for those with special needs should be a priority for businesses, the government, public authorities and the ministry itself. The minister was speaking at a specially-organised conference at which officials discussed means by which those with special needs could have better access to online news sites, especially those giving out government media content.

The minister, Dr Abdulmunim al Hasani, believes it’s the responsibility of website owners to become more user-friendly towards readers with special needs as well as to expats less than familiar with the local language. Such services, he said, benefit everyone, not just those to whom the web pages are aimed. Content aimed at these sectors, he said, is falling short of what should be expected, adding that online content for non-Arabic speakers must also be improved. Expats, he said, make up over 50 per cent of the Sultanate’s population, with the global language of English not at present a priority.

The meeting was attended by a number of those with special needs, all of whom described their problems with accessing their social media accounts and other relevant websites. One visually impaired Omani citizen stated technology has helped him further his education, but feels more integration between online content and news sites is needed. One major worry for those with special needs is that urgent messages or new laws are first shown as pictures, with relevant details following much later. According to the minister, future plans will include the showing of audio-descriptive messages at cinemas in order to help those with hearing disabilities, and workshops are to be set up to teach the best ways to create content for special needs citizens.
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