G3ict is the Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs

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NEW REPORT SHOWS SERIOUS GAPS IN ICT ACCESSIBILITY AMONG STATES PARTIES TO THE CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES

The second edition of the CRPD Progress Report on ICT Accessibility will be released this week by G3ict – the Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies, in cooperation with DPI – Disabled Peoples’ International, during the Fifth Session of the Conference of States Parties (CoSP5) to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), at United Nations Headquarters in New York. 

New York, New York. 09/13/2012

The second edition of the CRPD Progress Report on ICT Accessibility will be released this week by G3ict – the Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies, in cooperation with DPI – Disabled Peoples’ International, during the Fifth Session of the Conference of States Parties (CoSP5) to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), at United Nations Headquarters in New York. The report shows serious gaps in ICT accessibility for persons with disabilities. While 67 percent of ratifying countries have adopted laws, policies and programs consistent with the ICT accessibility provisions of the CRPD, only 32 percent have the capacity to implement those provisions, and only 45 percent reflect any implementation or impact, with a large proportion indicating minimum levels of implementation. As a result of the lack of compliance with the CRPD, hundreds of millions of persons with disabilities are excluded from the digital economy.

Image: Cover image of the 2012 Progress ReportThe 2012 CRPD Progress Report includes the latest data on 52 countries representing 77.4 percent of the World Population. The report offers disability advocates, governments, civil society and international organizations -- monitoring the progress of the implementation of the Convention by States Parties -- a unique benchmarking tool that collects data on country laws, policies, and programs pertaining to accessible and assistive Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) around the globe. All results are available cross-tabulated by region, level of income per capita of Human Development Index to facilitate benchmarking by advocates and policy makers.  

The study indicates that significant deficits remain to set in place a foundation to promote ICT accessibility. For example:
• Only 36 percent of countries have a definition of accessibility which includes ICTs or electronic media in their laws of regulations compliant with the definition of accessibility in CRPD Article 9;

• While 71 percent of the countries have dispositions to consult persons with disabilities at large, only 16 percent have a mechanism to involve Disabled Persons Organizations (DPOs) in the design, implementation and evaluation of laws, policies and programs regarding ICT accessibility;

• Although 82 percent of the countries have a government body dedicated to persons with disabilities, and 62 percent have a government body solely dedicated to ICTs, only 31 percent of the countries have government funds allocated to programs in support of digital accessibility;

• Only 26.7 percent of States Parties mention having public procurement policies promoting accessible ICTs, meaning that the vast majority of States Parties continue to purchase equipment or services which may be inaccessible to persons with disabilities; and

• In relation to the above, only 35.6 percent provide services to the general public, including through the Internet, in accessible and usable formats for persons with disabilities.    

A vital area of ICT accessibility with the greatest impact on the largest population of users, the accessibility of the information infrastructure, is lagging behind ratifying countries’ general commitments to the CRPD. More than 75 percent of ratifying countries report no or minimum levels of implementation of policies or programs promoting accessibility in critical areas such as mobile telephony, web sites, fixed telephony, public address systems, television or Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs).    
 
Image: Graph showing percentage of countries compliant with the CRPD
More than 75% of ratifying countries report no or minimum levels of implementation of policies or programs promoting the accessibility of the information infrastructure

More than 75% of ratifying countries report no or minimum levels of implementation of policies or programs promoting the accessibility of the information infrastructure

A second critical area of ICT accessibility which speaks to the role of persons with disabilities in the CRPD implementation, that remains low among surveyed countries, involves the support for DPOs. This is inconsistent with Article 4 (i) 3 of the CRPD and reflects a lack of respect for the rights of persons with disabilities in the digital age, as exemplified by ratifying countries which report that:    

• About 45 percent only offer financial support for DPOs and NGOs;    

• Merely 16 percent provide a systematic mechanism to involve DPOs working in the field of digital accessibility in the drafting, designing, implementation and evaluation of laws/policies;

• A scant 7 percent offer any awards or other types of recognition to persons with disabilities or their representative organizations which have done extraordinary work in the field of ICT accessibility.

Knowing how much progress is actually accomplished by CRPD ratifying countries in ICT accessibility is an essential step for all stakeholders in order to address gaps and opportunities in their own countries. As the above results indicate, while most countries are generally aware of their basic obligation to implement ICT accessibility, they have not translated essential CRPD dispositions into actual policies or programs.

“It is obviously important for countries to establish legal foundations, regulations and policies in the area of digital accessibility that meet CRPD dispositions,” said Axel Leblois, G3ict’s Founder and Chief Executive Officer. “But to give real meaning and effect to that foundation, countries must develop and apply their capacity to implement their CRPD commitments.”

“This joint G3ict-DPI global survey clearly establishes the severe gaps in ICT accessibility that remain among States Parties and their lack of compliance with Article 9 of the CRPD. It also demonstrates the urgency for States Parties to involve Disabled Persons Organizations in policy making and monitoring,” said Javed Abidi, Chair of Disabled Peoples’ International.

Confirming the imperative of supporting the involvement of disabled persons’ organizations in policy making, the following key success factors were identified through regression analysis in relation to ICT accessibility outcomes, which States Parties should consider as priorities:

1. Financial support for DPOs and NGOs working in the field of digital accessibility for persons with disabilities
2. Involvement of organizations of persons with disabilities in the drafting, designing, implementation and evaluation of ICT accessibility laws and policies
3. Government funding for programs in support of digital accessibility
4. A systematic review mechanism (e.g., regular report of progress) of existing legislation and/or policies concerning digital accessibility

As of September 13, the 2012 CRPD Progress Report on ICT Accessibility will be available as a free download in the Publications Section of the G3ict website at www.g3ict.org     

About G3ict
G3ict – the Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies – is an Advocacy Initiative of the United Nations Global Alliance for ICT and Development, launched in December 2006 in cooperation with the Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at UNDESA. Its mission is to facilitate and support the implementation of the dispositions of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) promoting digital accessibility and Assistive Technologies. Participating organizations include industry, academia, the public sector and organizations representing persons with disabilities. G3ict organizes or contributes to awareness-raising and capacity building programs for policy makers in cooperation with international organizations, such as the ITU, ILO, UNESCO, UNITAR, UNESCAP, and the World Bank. In 2011, G3ict launched the M-Enabling Summit Series to promote accessible mobile phones and services for persons with disabilities in cooperation with the ITU and the FCC (Federal Communications Commission). G3ict produces jointly with ITU the e-Accessibility Policy Toolkit for Persons with Disabilities (http://www.e-accessibilitytoolkit.org), as well as specialized reports which are widely used around the world by policy makers involved in the implementation of the CRPD. Visit http://www.g3ict.org     
About DPI
Disabled Peoples' International (DPI) is a dynamic grassroots global organization headquartered in Canada, with five Regional Development Offices in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America and Caribbean, operating in three official languages: English, French and Spanish. Established in 1981 and granted ECOSOC (United Nations Economic and Social Council) status shortly thereafter, DPI has 134 National Assemblies (country organizations) of persons with disabilities worldwide. Since its inception, DPI has collaborated with the United Nations (UN), civil society, governments and disability-related organizations to produce and disseminate information on disability worldwide.  DPI supports persons with disabilities around the world in their efforts to realize their human rights. It does this by promoting the full participation of persons with disabilities in all aspect of their community and by encouraging the equalization of opportunities and thereby, outcomes for persons with disabilities. Visit:  http://www.dpi.org.

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