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BTL Message for World Telecommunication & Information Society Day
World Telecommunication and Information Society Day 2008
I am pleased to have the opportunity to address you today as BTL hosts this event in honor of World Telecommunications and Information Society Day. This year May 17th falls on Saturday and Teacher's Day is being observed on Friday; but the Company, recognizing the importance of keeping tradition alive designated today May 14th as the opportune time to host our Open Day and Exhibition. World Telecommunication and Information Society Day is celebrated not only in Belize but worldwide, by all countries that are members of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). The ITU is a United Nations-based organization which has its head quarters in Geneva Switzerland. Its principal role is to co-ordinate the global telecommunication network and services of member states and the private sector. The Company is proud of its association with the ITU and pleased to state that with a combination of vision, considerable financial investments, and tireless work and dedication on the part of staff, we continue to positively impact the lives of those who use our resources to make telephone calls, send text messages, use the Internet or otherwise take advantage of the fruits of the recent telecommunications revolution. World Telecommunication Day may rightly be considered a celebration of the accomplishments of the ITU and, here in Belize, the recent milestone achievements of BTL, which include:
•Expanded cellular coverage
•Talk-it-Up Price reductions
•Introduction of an Electronic top up platform
•Pre-paid Billing System
•Worldwide text messaging
•Double day promotions
•Web-Talk – our Internet based phone service offering customers very low rates on international calls.
And the list goes on.
The theme this year is "Connecting Persons with Disabilities: ICT Opportunities for All." This year the ITU has decided to focus on addressing the importance of allowing persons with disabilities to reap the benefits of information communication technology. The theme highlights the critical need to change attitudes and approaches to persons with disabilities, ensuring that all fundamental rights and freedoms are honored, including the right to fully participate in the information society, and bring forth input, ideas and effort from those within our community who are disabled. The key to the information society is universal access. Everyone must have equal opportunity to participate in the digital age. And no one should be denied the potential benefits of new information and communication technologies (ICT), because they are hampered by their disabilities. A further call is being made to encourage design and production of ICT equipment and services, adhering to the Universal Design Principle and the use of assistive technologies for research and development - to facilitate accessibility to ICT for all, including persons with disabilities. BTL is doing its part in this universal effort, recognizing that there is a need to provide technological resources to persons with disabilities. The Company's "Afford a Phone" Service offers basic telephone service to low-income residential customers. Many elderly Belizeans who are not able to move around due to incapacities associated with old age are taking advantage of this program. It provides them with the confidence of knowing that they can converse with their family and friends and have a bridge of communication open in the event of emergencies.
The company also has available various equipment and accessories to compliment easy use of its services. These include hands free equipment, bluetooth, user friendly telephones such as cordless phones, speaker phones with key features including ring tones and volume adjustment, visual ringing indicators, and phones which have an easy and light grip. In addition to these products, the company has invested significantly in providing services that aim at meeting the demands of our customers, including those who are disabled.
These include the Internet service through which email and chat can be used for communication. Studies indicate that many people with disabilities use the Internet as a primary communication tool. One organization which has benefitted is Stella Maris School, which educates children with a wide array of disabilities. To assist in their efforts this school was provided internet at no cost by BTL through the Company's Free Internet to Schools Program.
Text Messaging is another service which is highly utilized by those who may not be able to speak or hear, but can send and respond to these messages.
Presently the company is investing in special phones that specifically cater to persons with disabilities. Some of these phones will be on display here today.
Yes, this is an important event and the theme is a significant one, as we should all be able to communicate effectively BTL pledges today to continue to take the challenges of the disabled into consideration as we plan for the future. BTL will continue to do its part in carrying out the works of ITU, looking after the progress of the Belizean populace. I hope that all visitors will enjoy the displays which have been enthusiastically prepared for you by various departments within our Company. Let us use ICT' s to give a voice to people who have been isolated, or have been invisible and silent, allowing them to speak out regardless of their abilities. Once again, thank you for being here with us today.