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Open Consultation Process rounds up ahead of WSIS Forum 2021

Results of the Open Consultation Process (OCP), held ahead of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS Forum 2021), were presented at the final OCP meeting on April 19. WSIS Forum, held online this year, has been running since September 2020, with a series of public consultations, seminars, ad hoc courses and other events.

The session was attended among other experts by Malcolm Johnson and Gitanjali Sah (International Telecommunication Union), Anton Yuzhakov (Russian Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media), and Yvette Ramos (WOMENVAI). They discussed the outcome of the OCP and further events of the forum while hosts and organizers of the seminars held over the past months presented their main findings.

Chief Analyst of the Coordination Center for TLD .RU/.РФ Maria Kolesnikova, who moderated the webinar “Universal Acceptance as a prerequisite for progress in multilingualism and creating local content in Eurasia and the Asia-Pacific Region” held by the Coordination Center on April 13, spoke about the main outcome of the webinar during which participants discussed the level of awareness about UA in their home countries and the opportunities presented by UA implementation for end users. They also proposed strategies for engaging governments, businesses and the tech community in UA support and promotion.

“Universal Acceptance (UA) is the touchstone of inclusivity and interoperability on the internet. The UA principle says that all domain names and email addresses, including those using any local language or consisting of any permitted number of characters, must be equally supported by all internet applications, devices and systems. Webinar participants noted that the internet still has a long way to go before it can be a universal platform for everybody. But UA implementation is the key to ensuring access to local content and being able to use one’s mother tongue online. Complete and overarching acceptance of all alphabets and languages by internet applications, devices and IT systems will help close the digital gap and attract a billion new internet users who don’t know English,” Maria Kolesnikova said.

Maria also noted that the webinar participants and viewers had covered the role governments play and stressed the importance of the public sector’s wider involvement in implementing UA, which should bring fast and substantial returns on such investments because governments will be able to efficiently communicate with their citizens in their local tongues thus having the opportunity to address all segments of the population.

Maria Kolesnikova reported that the UA webinar helped increase awareness of UA as the driving force and stimulus for development of the multilingual internet. The event also raised such issues as the urgent need for implementing respective standards among various groups of stakeholders. She specifically noted that the webinar was “a constructive exchange of ideas on UA implementation” and its participants produced a better understanding of the roles of governments, businesses and the tech community in promoting and achieving universal access. The final week of the virtual WSIS Forum 2021 is scheduled for May 17−21, 2021, and will consist of remarks by and interactive dialogues between high-level representatives, the WSIS Prizes ceremony, a ministerial roundtable meeting and a series of events covering some of the main areas of the WSIS.

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