Universal Acceptance Speech at ICANN68 ReadOut Uganda

Marhaban, Jambo, Bonjour. Arabic, Swahili and French are just a few of the languages spoken in Africa. It is estimated that the total number of languages spoken in Africa is between 1250 and 2100 and by some counts over 3,000. We are a diverse people and we all don’t speak the same languages. Now, according to the world intellectual property organization 99.65% both domain names are in English under the standard called, ASCII, which stands for American Standard code for Information Exchange. The problem is that not everyone that uses the internet speaks English. But I believe that to every problem there is a solution. The solution to this particular problem is Universal Acceptance, commonly abbreviated as UA. 

Universal Acceptance is a fundamental requirement for a truly multilingual and digitally inclusive internet. UA ensures that all domain names and email addresses are treated equally and can be used by all internet enabled applications, devices and systems. Because we speak different languages, alphabets tend to include some special characters from language to language. Internationalized Domain Names( IDN) are names in your local language syntax accommodating special characters otherwise not available in the English alphabet. Similarly, Email Address Internationalisation (EAI) is the protocol that allows email addresses with IDN’S in the domain part and/or Unicode (non ASCII) characters in the local part of the mailbox. Email software and services need to make specific changes to support EAI, since EAI mail is conceptually a seperate mail stream from legacy ASCII mail. 

The Universal Acceptance Steering Group (UASG) is an organised Community initiative with a vision to have all domain names and email addresses to be universally accepted in all software applications. The mission of UASG is to mobilize software application developers to get their product to be UA ready. This is done by providing encouragement, documentation, case studies, tools and measures to help provide a better user experience for end users. 

The UASG and stakeholder interaction is composed of tech developers, tech enablers, EAI providers, influencers and policymakers. And under the working groups we have Technology, EAI, Measurements, Communications, Local Initiatives and UA Ambassadors. The aim is to interact with local stakeholders to start local Initiatives to promote UA readiness. 

Here are some of the ways one can participate. 

  1. Raise awareness of the technical problems within the community
  2. Organise training in the commit to learn how to fix the problem. 
  3. Encourage fixing the UA problems in the systems. 
  4. Use UA Ready systems as a community. 
  5. Share experiences on becoming UA ready. the challenges and Journeys. 
  6. Advocate more broadly  to support UA in their systems.   

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