Introducing digital accessibility to another country isn’t easy but to a country with a completely different culture and set of business norms is harder still.
Dr Vivienne Conway’s foray into the Middle East was more by chance than design – as a web tech business owner, she’d been mentoring a Kuwaiti business owner who was completing his masters’ thesis at ECU. He suggested she set up her business – Web Key IT – in his home country.
“Muhammad (Saleem) wanted to know if we would be interested in establishing an office in Kuwait and allowing their company (Green Technology) to be our local representatives,” Dr Conway said from her desk in the Panasonic Tower in Kuwait City.
“His interest is in digital accessibility in the Middle East and, as my own doctorate was on digital accessibility but in Australia, we had much in common.”
Dr Conway is helping the Government of Kuwait to produce web accessibility guidelines for its Towards Kuwait 2035 Vision Towards Persons with Disabilities Project, which is managed by the United Nations Development Program and aims to support the Public Authority of the Disabled Affairs to establish benchmark standards and procedures.
CCI experts to the rescue
Dr Conway, whose business has been operating in Australia since 2011, knew she needed some international business backgrounding to start the venture and turned to two of CCI’s business units – the International Trade and Investment Centre and Workplace Consulting – for help.
“Without the encouragement and support of CCI/Austrade, none of this would have been possible at all, and I certainly wouldn’t have been brave enough to venture out like this without it,” Dr Conway said.
“They have worked along with us as we jumped over the many legal hurdles and helped us through cultural adjustments that such a venture has necessitated.”
Dr Conway said some of the challenges faced included getting legal agreements drawn up, processed by the Kuwait Embassy, then translated into Arabic and presented to the Kuwait Government for approval.
“Added to that, the fact that you need to be working with established Kuwait business makes it all quite difficult and time-consuming to do,” she said.
CCI liaised with Austrade in Kuwait, on Dr Conway’s behalf, and provided valuable legal services to ensure all the necessary paperwork was in place.
Dr Conway has been based in Kuwait since April and finishes this month. .
“The process to actually get to this point has been interesting and challenging, with lots of background and legal implications,” she said.
“I would like to personally thank the staff at the Perth Office of CCI and Austrade – both in Perth and also in Kuwait – for their kind assistance and encouragement.”
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