By Mike Robuck

Valuable 500 presses need to bridge digital gap

Valuable 500 members including Apple, Google and Microsoft plan to highlight the need to increased access to mobile devices at MWC22 Barcelona for persons with disabilities.

During Monday’s Diversity4Tech panel Valuable 500 members, a group consisting of 500 business leaders and companies, will discuss their strategies to better serve the 1.3 billion people globally who have disabilities. The lack of connectivity to the internet poses a huge barrier for persons with disabilities.

In December, the GSMA released its Mobile Disability Gap report, which found that the global disabled community had lower levels of mobile ownership than their non-disabled counterparts. In almost all the countries surveyed, disabled users were more likely to own basic phones that had either no or fewer built-in accessibility features that were not always able to access the internet.

A disparity in digital connectivity was also found by the World Economic Forum’s revelation in September that US citizens with disabilities are three times more likely to never go online than those without a disability.

“Mobile World Congress always marks an important moment for disability inclusion,” stated Caroline Casey, founder of the Valuable 500. “Given the increasing centrality of digital technology to our lives, the commitment from this sector to tackling inclusion for all is essential to allow equal access to fundamental services from health to employment. The rest of the tech sector must now follow the lead of Apple, Google, and Microsoft and step up to serve the disabled community.”

The Valuable 500 was launched at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting at Davos in 2019.