“ICT and Persons with Disabilities”

The panelists listing Mr Gregg Vanderheiden. © UNESCO

Action Line C3 Access
Monday 16 May 2011, WSIS Forum 2011


Short description:
UNESCO, as facilitator role for the WSIS Action Line 3 – Access, together with ITU (co-Facilitator), organized an interactive session bringing together representatives of international organizations, academia, public-private partners and disability rights activists.

This interactive debate explored existing and potential usage of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) to improve access by persons with disabilities to information and knowledge and encourage their participation in social, economic and political life.

The speaker of the session shared their good practices in the area of digital inclusion and encouraged international cooperation among national, local, nongovernmental and civil society organizations working with persons with disabilities.

The following Issues were discussed during the interactive session:

  • UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities mandates and progress of countries in implementing;
  • Key barriers to access information and knowledge for persons with disabilities:
  • Solutions available to eliminate barriers and discrimination;
  • Impact in relation to installed bases of ICTs worldwide on education, employment and cultural opportunities.
    Main points summarizing the discussion:
  • ICTs are effective tools to reach out to persons with disabilities, which can improve their quality of life. The ICTs provide new educational and employment opportunities as well as promote their social inclusion and participation.
  • The social and economic costs of digital exclusion are very high, not only for the excluded, but for society as a whole.
  • The growing global crisis continues to growth in terms of continues development of inaccessible ICTs. For persons with disabilities, a price of ICTs is increasing, in availability is decreasing and no technologies for each disability and for each person with disabilities.
  • The Internet should be accessible for persons with disabilities in order to access to information and knowledge as well as digital office documents should be made accessible.
  • ICTs can contribute to the implementation of the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the inclusion of disability in international aid.
  • Introduction of ICTs in education for people with different types of learning needs should be taken with a systematic approach. It is essential to ensure that not only people with disabilities, but also educational staff are trained to use ICTs and address different learning needs in classrooms.
  • Promotion of positive attitudes helps to overcome some of the barriers.
  • Emerging cloud-based infrastructures and the ability to personalize applications and content should be used to enable digital inclusion and address barriers of physical, sensory and cognitive access to online systems.

Panelist of participants:

Moderator, Mr Jānis Kārkliņš © UNESCO

1. Ms Maria Reina
Executive Director, The Global Partnership for Disability Development (GPDD)

2. Mr Reinhard Scholl
Deputy to the Director, Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, ITU

3. Mr Axel Leblois
President and Executive Director G3ict, the Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies, is a flagship advocacy initiative of UN-GAID, the United Nations Global Alliance for ICT and Development

4. Ms Natalia Tokareva
Policy and Research Team leader, UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education

5. Ms Amanda Watkins
Assistant Director, European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education

6. Ms Jutta Treviranus
Director, Inclusive Design Research Centre and Inclusive Design Institute OCAD University

7. Mr Gregg Vanderheiden
Director, Trace R&D Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Raising the Floor - Switzerland

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