Information accessibility encompasses the many issues surrounding availability, accessibility and affordability of information, such as multilingualism, metadata, interoperability, open source software, open content, Creative Commons licences as well as addressing the special needs of people with disabilities.
The new economic and technological environment raises concerns about the erosion of access to certain information and knowledge that has been freely shared in the past, for example to facilitate scientific research and education.
At the same time, developments such as the Internet create an unprecedented opportunity for sharing information as well as promoting linguistic diversity and preserving languages that would otherwise become extinct. While many thousands of the world’s languages are still absent from Internet content, the provision of digital connectivity to all people will allow communities to create their own content in their own languages.
In 2003, UNESCO adopted a Recommendation concerning the Promotion and Use of Multilingualism and Universal Access to Cyberspace, promoting multilingualism and an equitable balance between the interests of information rights holders and the public interest.
Subsequently, UNESCO has endorsed global efforts related to Free and Open source Software (FOSS), Open Educational Resources (OER), and has responded with several projects to promote multilingualism in cyberspace, as well as the use of ICT for more equitable access to information, including for people with disabilities.