Countries are to promote access to information by providing information intended for the general public in accessible formats and technologies, by facilitating the use of Braille, sign language and other forms of communication and by encouraging the media and Internet providers to make on-line information available in accessible formats. August 2007.
"Disability isn't something you have, it is something that happens when one group of people create barriers by designing the world only for their style of living."
In the world as it is designed today, lack of accessibility to the physical environment -including housing, buildings, streets and other outdoor environments, public transport services and other means of transportation- is still a major barrier for persons with disabilities. Similarly, the new information and communication technology (ICT) developed over the last ten years, despite creating opportunities for people with disabilities in networking, solidarity employment and independent living, has also widened the gap between disabled and non-disabled users. The digital divide includes inaccessibility to infrastructure for ICT, Internet, and ICT skills by people with disabilities.
International standards exist which stress the overall importance of accessibility in the process of the equalization of opportunities for people with disabilities, and make recommendations for the creation non-handicapping environments and ensuring access to information and communication. Nonetheless, national governments, particularly in the South, have been slow to adopt such measures, and few substantive initiatives have been taken at policy level.
However, an active and globally linked movement of disabled people’s organizations is making sure that the issue of accessibility remains firmly on the agenda. They have shown that universal design approaches benefit all people in society, and make economic sense, too. They press for accessibility requirements to be included in the design and construction of the physical environment from the very beginning of the planning process, and promote adaptive technologies and design practices that would help improve access to Internet resources. Fundamental to achieving these goals is the input and participation of disabled users themselves.
International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
After five years of negotiations, countries meeting at United Nations Headquarters in New York have agreed on a new treaty to protect the rights of persons with disabilities. The convention will be formally sent to the General Assembly for adoption at its next session, which begins in September 2006. It will then be open for signing and ratification by all countries. Convention's Article 9 agees on accessibility:
1. To enable persons with disabilities to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life, States Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure to persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications, including information and communications technologies and systems, and to other facilities and services open or provided to the public, both in urban and in rural areas. These measures, which shall include the identification and elimination of obstacles and barriers to accessibility, shall apply to, inter alia:
(a) Buildings, roads, transportation and other indoor and outdoor facilities, including schools, housing, medical facilities and workplaces;
(b) Information, communications and other services, including electronic services and emergency services.
2. States Parties shall also take appropriate measures to:
(a) Develop, promulgate and monitor the implementation of minimum standards and guidelines for the accessibility of facilities and services open or provided to the public;
(b) Ensure that private entities that offer facilities and services which are open or provided to the public take into account all aspects of accessibility for persons with disabilities;
(c) Provide training for stakeholders on accessibility issues facing persons with disabilities;
(d) Provide in buildings and other facilities open to the public signage in Braille and in easy to read and understand forms;
(e) Provide forms of live assistance and intermediaries, including guides, readers and professional sign language interpreters, to facilitate accessibility to buildings and other facilities open to the public;
(f) Promote other appropriate forms of assistance and support to persons with disabilities to ensure their access to information;
(g) Promote access for persons with disabilities to new information and communication technologies and systems, including the Internet;
(h) Promote the design, development, production and distribution of accessible information and communications technologies and systems at an early stage, so that these technologies and systems become accessible at minimum cost.
Countries that join in the Convention engage themselves to develop and carry out policies, laws and administrative measures for securing the rights recognized in it and abolish laws, regulations, customs and practices that constitute discrimination. What the Convention endeavours to do is to elaborate in detail the rights of persons with disabilities and set out a code of implementation. 2007.
On the fundamental issue of accessibility the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities requires countries to identify and eliminate obstacles and barriers and ensure that persons with disabilities can access their environment, transportation, public facilities and services, and information and communications technologies. August 2007.
In coordination with organizations around the world, WAI pursues accessibility of the Web through five primary areas of work: technology, guidelines, tools, education and outreach, and research and development.
In the Dominican Republic, efforts are being made to provide disabled citizens with digital opportunities. In this regard, the initiatives that are under way, as part of the ideals of social inclusion, are striving to put information and communication technology breakthroughs to the service of promoting equality, permitting access to a digital world free of barriers, and facilitating the development and communication of disabled citizens. August 2006.
In every country of the world, the media tend to ignore the rights of disabled people and portray them as pathetic recipients of charity or tragic but brave victims. The real story, the struggle for equality and freedom is given little space on radio, TV or the print media. The "Real Live Media" project aims to revert this situation to promote social inclusion and non-discrimination.
The DAISY specifications are aimed at transforming the reading and learning experiences of tens of thousands of people who have a print disability in some 25 countries around the world. Tools and information are available from this site.
Reports evaluating compliance with the UN Standard Rules by NGO members of: Disabled Peoples' International, Inclusion International, Rehabilitation International, World Blind Union and World Federation of the Deaf.
Manual prepared by the Urban Management Department of the Lebanese Company for the Development and Reconstruction of Beirut Central District (SOLIDERE) in collaboration with the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia.
These guidelines encourage would-be organizers of participatory and inclusive activities to think about the accessibility of their written and spoken communications, alternative media and events. (pdf format)
People with disabilities constitute approximately 10% of the world's population. Around 80% of all people with disabilities live in developing countries, and at least half are women. Women with disabilities have been organizing and advocating for full inclusion of gender issues in the UN draft Convention to promote and protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities. August 2005
There are at least 300 million disabled women living in all countries of the world. 82% of these live in the developing
world. Disabled women and girls are much more marginalizes and mostly invisible to policy makers. March 2005.
Draft articles for a comprehensive and integral international Convention on the protection and promotion of the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities. The Working Group established by the Ad Hoc Committee will meet from 5 to 16 January 2004 to draft a text of an international convention on the rights of persons with disabilities. A Virtual Forum has been launched to facilitate dialogue on the disability convention between members of the Working Group and among all interested parties.
A pro-poor national transport policy must address the barriers to employment caused by
the design and operation of public transport in a manner inaccessible to persons with
mobility, sensory, or cognitive disabilities. Prepared by Thomas Rickert of Access Exchange International for the World Bank.
This British charity is an information provider and a forum for collaborative dialogue between providers and users on how the built environment can best be made or modified to achieve inclusion by design.
Reports from 6 seminars organized by Working Commission W84 of the International Council for Building Research, Studies and Documentation, on accessibility, access legislation and design solutions. Includes papers presented by representatives of disabled persons’ organizations in the South.
APRODDIS’ Elimination of Architectural Barriers project aimed to promote the elimination of architectural barriers in Peru, as well as remove the mental barriers that restrict the development of a disability conscious society.
Accessibility in Pune and India generally. Includes the text of India's 1995 Persons with Disabilities Act (chapter 8 on accessibility); pilot project "Enhanced accessibility for people with disabilities in urban areas".
Accessibility 'needs to be seen as a basic violation of human rights and the right to live life. Access issues need to be projected as matters related not only to persons with disabilities but all sections of society.'
An account of the 'Accessible Cities' project, aimed at improving access to public buildings in Ekaterinburg for wheelchair users, organized by the Freedom of Movement Society of Wheelchair Users of the City of Ekaterinburg.
An account of the second conference on 'Architectural Accessibility for all', organised by the Nicaraguan Association for the Support of the Disabled (Asociación Nicaragüense de Apoyo al Discapacitado).
Statements by representatives of states, international organisations, business sector, followed by a presentation with concrete achievement or suggestion of Information and Communication Technologies meeting special requirements of persons with disabilities, including best examples of ICT Designs and Development.
International Foundation for Election Systems' (IFES) clearinghouse for information on the participation of people with disabilities in the electoral process, including legislation analysis, best practices, reports, press articles and case studies.
The need for improved accessibility by persons with disabilities to the Internet and other information technologies was the focus of the United Nations. Access to information and communication technologies creates opportunities to everyone in society, but perhaps no-more so than for persons with disabilities. No longer do the societal barriers of prejudice, infrastructure, and inaccessible formats stand in the way of participation. When available to everyone, information technologies foster individuals to reach their full potential, and for persons with disabilities it allows them to play their part in society’s development. December 2006.
The African Decade of Persons with Disabilities (1999-2009) is an initiative geared toward ensuring full participation, equality and empowerment of persons with disabilities in Africa.
The Decade emerged subsequent to a series of extensive consultations between the Organization of African Unity (OAU), Disabled People’s Organizations (DPOs), non-governmental organizations, UN Agencies, the African Rehabilitation Institute (ARI), governments and other stakeholders. A formal declaration of the African Decade was adopted by the 36th session of the OAU Heads of State and Government held in Lome, Togo in July 2000. (See also Plan of Action, pdf format)
The goal of the project is to promote the empowerment of people with disabilities and a barrier-free society in developing countries in the Asia and Pacific Region. Exhaustive information on activities, news, country profiles, etc.