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 Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Declaration on Internet Accessibility was adopted by the Dynamic Coalition on Accessibility and Disability at the recent Internet Governance Forum (IGF) held in Hyderabad, India. DCAD counts ITU as one of its founder members.

ITU took part in twelve sessions at the IGF, organizing seven of them. As well as opening remarks from the Secretary General, and various addresses from the Director of the Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, six other ITU staff participated. In addition ITU sponsored the participation of 39 people (27 from developing countries).

DCAD aims to facilitate interaction between relevant bodies and ensure that ICT accessibility is included in the key debates around Internet Governance in order to build a future where all sectors of the global community have equal access to the Information Society. It held its first face-to-face meeting on 6 December 2008 during the third Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Hyderabad.

The Declaration urges all governments to support the process of adoption, ratification and implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It also “strongly urges” that the needs of persons with disabilities be included in all aspects of designing, developing, distributing and deploying of appropriation strategies of information and communication technologies, including information and communication services, so as to ensure accessibility for persons with disabilities, taking into account the universal design principle, existing standards, and the use of assistive technologies.

The Coalition has also approved an “Action Plan” for activities to be carried out in 2009.

Organizations that are members of the DCAD include ACMA, Council of Europe, DAISY Consortium, Digital Accessible Information System Consortium, G3ict, ICDRI, ISOC, ISOC-AR, Mais Diferenças, NCC, People Who, UNESCO, W3C Web Accessibility Initiative. A new member joined during the IGF: the Indian “Centre for Internet & Society”.

Also during the IGF, ITU, in collaboration with DCAD members organized a workshop “Including Accessibility and Human Factors in the Universalization of the Internet - How to reach persons with disabilities, the 10% of the next billion”. Most of the panelists were persons with disabilities who brought varied experiences of Internet accessibility from various perspectives.

The DCAD, lead by ITU, will continue to facilitate inclusion of the needs of persons with disabilities in the global information society.