Back to Home English
E-Accessibility for People with Disabilities: Qatar

Inclusive ICT services for people with disabilities in Qatar (2011– ongoing)

June 6, 2024
Author: Rabab Hteit

The e-accessibility policy adopted in 2011 works towards making information, communications, and technology (ICT) products and services in Qatar accessible to all members of society, especially people with disabilities. The policy requires telecommunication service providers to use assistive technologies for public sector websites and public sector terminals. The policy mandated the provision of ramps; wheelchair-accessible heights; and door sensors for automatic opening in all public sector terminals; and introduced large-print, high-contrast keypads and screen texts, along with braille-numbered keypads among other accessibility features to all public and most private websites.

Qatar’s e-accessibility policy is a first of its kind in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region that explicitly addresses the accessibility of ICT-based services for persons with disabilities. The policy aims to reduce the inequality of access to public services, education, and employment faced by people living with disabilities. It seeks to guarantee accessible public websites, mobile applications, telecommunication services, ATMs, and public access terminals1 using assistive technologies. Assistive technologies include anything from different computer usage methods to synthetic speech-based communication aids, power chairs with switch-controlled interfaces, and environmental control systems that provide complete remote control of lights, doors, and windows.2 The e-accessibility policy also recommends the provision of accessible digital content by private producers and distributors of ICTs.

The policy supports Qatar’s National Vision 2030, the broader inclusive agenda, and Qatar’s ITC Strategy (ICT 2015) to build an ICT-skilled population that emphasizes women, seniors, and people with disabilities. The targeted population includes both nationals and migrants and residents from all social levels. Additionally, it is consistent with the National Development Strategy 2011–2016, which encourages ICT use to enhance learning environments for children with disabilities.3 

The e-accessibility policy works on increasing the accessibility of ATMs and public access terminals or kiosks—allowing people with vision, hearing, and mobility impairments to be able to use them independently.4 The accessibility features include, but are not limited to: large-print, high-contrast keypads and screen texts, braille-numbered keypads, headphone ports for personal audio and volume control, ramps, accommodative heights for wheelchairs, and door sensors for automatic opening.

In the educational sector, digital education opportunities are enhanced for people with disabilities by creating inclusive educational resources and providing training for inclusive digital education. ICT training is provided for people with disabilities to enhance their professional development, employment, and entrepreneurship opportunities.5 

Examples of innovative ICT solutions include “Bu Hamad,” the first digital application that interprets sign language into Qatari, and “Lazarillo,” an application that guides people with visual impairments and allows them to move independently inside closed spaces, such as malls and metro stations.6 


Qatar was one of the first countries to ratify the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD) in 2008.7 Experts on the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities acknowledged Qatar’s numerous initiatives and good work on behalf of people with disabilities, but they expressed concern over the country’s approach, which prioritized segregation over integration of people with disabilities into existing institutions like workplaces, schools, and local communities.8 

The Qatar National e-Accessibility Policy was issued in 2011 and explicitly requires that telecommunications service providers in Qatar ensure accessibility to critical telecommunications services and technologies.9 Since 2011, the Ministry of Transport and Communication has partnered with Assistive Technology Center Qatar (MADA) to implement the policy. The Assistive Technology Center Qatar was established in 2010, before the National e-Accessibility Policy, and has been instrumental in the implementation of the policy.10 It is a private institution for public benefit seeking to enhance digital access, particularly to the elderly, people with disabilities, and people with mobility impairments in Qatar.11 

MADA provides digital accessibility consulting services and provides accreditation and compliance testing for public online platforms such as government websites, to ensure their accessibility. The compliance of ICT services with accessibility requirements is continuously monitored through actual user testing and through automated code testing. Through awareness promotion campaigns MADA also invests in community awareness building of how ICT may help people with disabilities better integrate into society and the economy.12


The cost of the e-accessibility policy is mainly borne by MADA, who have a budget of QAR 23 million (USD 6,316,947) per year13 allocated by the Qatari government. 

Further information on the cost of the program could not be identified by the author.


Prior to the policy, no websites in Qatar had e-accessibility features. However, by 2019, 90 percent of all government websites were accessible to people with disabilities.14 By 2018, Qatar ranked fifth worldwide on the Digital Accessibility Rights Evaluation Index 2018, and improved its ranking to first in the 2020 DARE Index.15 Information on user interaction with the accessibility features is however not readily available. 

A 2019–2021 survey that measured the utilization of accessible ICT by government and semi-government institutions in Qatar demonstrated that there remain considerable gaps in ICT infrastructure, including an absence in many institutions of policies governing the digital accessibility of their platforms, of a framework to measure against and improve on e-accessibility, and any defined procurement requirements in these organizations.16 The results, however, had improved considerably between 2019 and 2021, though they did not provide information on user take-up and only reflected internal improvements in the digital infrastructure.

Additional Information

In accordance with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), the DARE Index is a benchmarking tool for governments, civil society, disability advocates, international organizations, and policymakers to evaluate national progress in providing Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) accessibility for everyone.17 The Index evaluates 137 countries’ performance in three areas: commitment (legal, regulatory, policies and programs), capacity (organization, processes, and resources), and actual results (digital accessibility for people with disabilities in ten product and service categories).

Person typing on laptop. ©Adobe Stock