UNESCO joins discussion on disabilities with Microsoft India

UNESCO New Delhi Director, Eric Falt participated in the Demystifying Disabilities event organized by Microsoft India on 28 February 2022. Joined by some 100 Microsoft employees, the conversation explored questions such as the progress made towards the full-inclusion of persons with disabilities over recent years; the challenges created by the pandemic; the possibility and promise of digital technologies; and the work that remains to be done with regards to employability and labour market inclusion.

Across the conversation, Mr Falt recalled the many UNESCO initiatives that had been launched to support the inclusion of persons with disabilities across the pandemic. These included the launch of the COVID-19 Global Education Coalition - of which Microsoft is a member - to ensure educational continuity for all learners when schools closed, to the adoption of a new global standard setting instrument on the ethics of artificial intelligence (AI), ensuring that AI related technologies are designed and used with the needs of persons with disabilities in mind. 

He also congratulated Microsoft on the proactive measures it was taking in India to work as a disability-inclusive employer, and welcomed the possibility of future partnership with Microsoft India on projects related to educational technology, participatory data systems for disability inclusion, and the ethics of AI.

Joined by Mr. Ajay Suri, Senior Advisor for Inclusive Development at the National Institute for Urban Affairs (NIUA), the conversation also introduced a new UNESCO-NIUA pilot project on strengthening participatory data systems for disability inclusion, and drew attention to the important role that technology can play in giving voice to the concerns and interests of persons living with disabilities within policy design and revision.

UNESCO supports efforts to enhance the inclusion of persons with disabilities across all of its work, from the development of guidelines and tools, teacher training and the use of ICTs in education, to advocacy to ensure the fulfilment of the rights of persons with disabilities, including through the annual celebration of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on the 3rd of December.  

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