It is estimated that there are nearly 650 million persons with disabilities in the Asia-Pacific region and most of them are living in conditions of hardship and poverty, and thus are in great need of economic and social support. Persons with disabilities are entitled to enjoy meaningful, active and collaborative participation in the shared prosperity and advancement of the region. Sustainable growth would not be achieved without inclusive development strategies. Indeed, there are references on disability issues in the outcome documents of previous APEC Economic Leaders' Meetings and Ministerial Meetings. Particularly, the 2015 Leaders’ Declaration stated “We welcome the progress of APEC cooperation to enhance economic empowerment of persons with disabilities and encourage further collaboration among member economies in promoting inclusive development.”
Internet technologies have been providing growing opportunities for persons with disabilities in the Asia-Pacific region to participate in the mainstream society on an equal basis with others. The Project of “Assistive Devices + Internet” Cross-Border E-Commerce Platform aims to expand the scope of selection of assistive devices for persons with disabilities, facilitate them to find assistive devices tailored to their needs and affordable to them in an effective way, develop the e-commerce industry of assistive devices, and contribute to the economic growth in the Asia-Pacific region due to the huge potential market of the industry. The project will be implemented across the Asia-Pacific region from the year of 2016. This project supports efforts of the APEC Group of Friends on Disability (GOFD), which seeks to include disability issues across APEC sub-fora.