New report from UN Broadband Commission for Digital
Development, G3ICT, IDA, ITU, Microsoft, the Telecentre.org Foundation and
“The ICT Opportunity for a Disability-Inclusive Development Framework”
Geneva/New York, 24 September, 2013 – A
new report released today demonstrates how Information and
Communication Technologies (ICT), have become a positive force of transformation
and a crucial element of any personal development, empowerment and institutional
framework for inclusive development.
While the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) represent a concerted effort to
address global poverty, there is a striking gap in the current MDGs and their
inclusion of persons with disabilities. The estimated 1 billion persons with
disabilities are still excluded from equitable access to resources (education,
healthcare, etc.) and as a result persons with disabilities experience
disproportionately high rates of poverty. In spite of the conclusion of the
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2006, disability
remains largely invisible in most mainstream development processes.
The High-Level Meeting on Disability and Development (HLMDD) of the sixty
eighth session of the United Nations General Assembly, taking place in New York,
provides a historic opportunity to rectify this omission and will discuss the
issues that should be reflected in the post-2015 framework for development.
“The ICT Opportunity for a Disability-Inclusive Development
Framework” contributes to a better understanding of the extent to which ICTs can
enable and accelerate the social and economic inclusion of persons with
disabilities. It lists challenges that are still to be addressed while outlining
concrete actions to be undertaken by each group of stakeholders and a set of
indicators to help measure progress towards the achievement of a
disability-inclusive development agenda.
This report is the result of collaborative input from the
Commission for Digital Development, the Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs
(G3ICT), the International Disability Alliance (IDA), the International
Telecommunication Union (ITU),
Telecentre.org Foundation and the
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Launching the report, Secretary General of the ITU, Dr Hamadoun I. Touré,
said “The use of information and communication technologies should be at the
heart of any strategy to promote the social and economic inclusion of persons
with disabilities. We have the tools at our hands; the remaining challenge is to
expand access to these technologies to all and to make ICTs accessible and
affordable for persons with disabilities”
The content is based on feedback from a global consultation on ICT,
Disability and Development, carried out from 20 May to 17 June 2013 in support
of the preparatory process of the HLMDD. The consultation gathered over 150
expert inputs from relevant organizations and key individuals from over 55
countries and representing multiple stakeholders, including governments,
academic institutions, organizations of persons with disabilities, civil society
organizations, private sector and regional and international organizations.
The report highlights that when ICT are available, affordable and
accessible, they can significantly improve the inclusion of persons with
disabilities in all aspects of society.
- Web services constitute the access
technology with the greatest impact in promoting the inclusion
of persons with disabilities in all areas of development (e.g.
social networking, teleworking, online educational classes,
- Mobile devices and services constituted the
second-most valued ICT. In particular, the use of mobile phones
is instrumental to enable independent living of persons with
disabilities (e.g. SMS, captioned telephone, mobile banking
services, and access to emergency services).
- Television is the third-ranked ICT in the
assessment, specifically for its use as a tool to access
government services and information (e.g. news broadcasts,
information and education programmes).
Regarding the challenges to overcome, some barriers are universal
while others affect specific areas of development.
- The cost of assistive technologies, which
is comprised of the cost of the technology as well as the cost
of assistive technology assessment, training and support
services, is still one of the main barriers that prevents many
persons with disabilities to fully access healthcare services,
benefit all educational levels, be competitive in the labour
market and to live independently.
- A lack of access to ICT accessibility technologies
is a pervasive barrier that is further reinforced by the lack of
policies which foster widespread availability of accessible ICTs
and the lack of effective policy implementation.
- Limited availability and use of ICT in general
greatly constrains the use of ICT as a solution to
tackling development challenges.
Addressing these barriers requires the collaboration of the main
stakeholders involved in each sector, as well as concrete actions to be
undertaken by each group of stakeholders and relevant indicators to monitor
- Governments can play a key role in
stimulating the introduction of ICT-enabled solutions adapted to
the needs of persons with disabilities, increasing the
availability of accessible ICTs and promoting the affordability
of assistive technologies in social, educational, economic and
other domains. One priority action is the inclusion of
accessibility requirements in procurement policies. In addition,
governments can foster a greater awareness of the UN Convention
on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as a comprehensive
and integral instrument which highlights the importance of ICTs
and accessibility for the enjoyment of one’s human rights and
fundamental freedoms. This entails updating disability
legislation to include ICTs in the legal definition of
accessibility. Through regular consultation with organizations
of persons with disabilities, they can improve the provision and
quality of accessible ICT.
- Private sector entities can contribute by
increasing research and development efforts, incorporating
universal design principles at the earliest stage possible and
recruit persons with disabilities in product development
departments to develop accessible ICTs. Another priority action
is to address the shortage of IT professionals with ICT
accessibility skills (in-house training, industry gatherings and
publications). The private sector can further remove attitudinal
barriers towards hiring persons with disabilities and promote
accessible and inclusive workplaces. Through these
contributions, employers can greatly contribute to a society
where persons with disabilities can participate in work life,
and have increased independence.
- Civil society organizations have a key role
in raising policymakers’ awareness of the remaining
accessibility barriers, becoming more active in the work
conducted by international standards organizations. Furthermore,
they also have the ability to bring about social progress and
economic growth by raising the awareness and building the
capacity of persons with disabilities and their relatives in
using ICT to facilitate their own economic and social inclusion.
Finally, advocating for the mainstreaming of the use of the
universal design principle in all development efforts is crucial
for ensuring that the international development framework is
- The UN system and other international
organizations must implement operational activities to meet
disability-inclusive development goals, complemented by the
monitoring and evaluation of development efforts at the global,
regional and national levels. Also necessary are performance
reviews to assess whether development policies, programmes and
projects are effective and results-driven. It is imperative to
ensure that this analysis is quantitative and supported by
consistent data, and that such analysis is designed with the
participation of persons with disabilities, in order to make
sure that the correct factors are measured. Lastly, the UN must
ensure that it keeps implementing awareness-raising activities
and mobilization campaigns in order to create a demand for
national governmental action.
- International standards organizations can
also play a special role in enabling a disability-inclusive
development agenda by providing a neutral platform from which to
develop and/or harmonize international standards and provide
recommendations related to accessible ICTs. To achieve this,
standards development bodies must facilitate the participation
of relevant experts and delegates with disabilities.
Furthermore, these organizations can contribute to the promotion
of R&D focused on developing specific ICT-enabled solutions for
persons with disabilities. International standards organizations
must also raise policy makers’ awareness of accessibility
barriers to be addressed.
The report is released during the High-Level side-event to the HLMDD “The UN
delivering as one in enabling a disability-inclusive development agenda towards
2015 and beyond”, taking place today, at the United Nations Headquarters in New
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