The Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies (G3ict) and Disabled People’s International (DPI) announce the release of a new report on benchmarking progress in making Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) accessible in compliance with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Key findings will be presented this week in New Delhi at Techshare India 2014, a conference and exhibition discussing accessibility and assistive technology at a national level with international participation, hosted by BarrierBreak, in partnership with the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP), the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), UK and with the support of G3ict.
In its third edition, the CRPD 2103 ICT Accessibility Progress Report offers disability advocates, governments, civil society and international organizations monitoring the progress of the implementation of the CRPD by States Parties, unique benchmarks for country laws, policies, and programs pertaining to accessible and assistive ICTs.
Based on the findings from the 2010 and 2012 editions of the Progress Report, it is clear that digital accessibility is not merely about greater use of technologies by persons with disabilities. It is about transforming information-based policies and the ICT ecosystem. Addressing the ICT arena is part of a larger effort to build an information society based on ensuring people’s right to communicate, use knowledge for their own ends, and overcome barriers on freedom to use, share and modify ICTs and information content. This comports with the theme of the September 2013 High-Level Meeting on Disability and Development of the United Nations General Assembly on the realization of the Millennium Development Goals and other internationally-agreed development goals for persons with disabilities.
2013 Key Findings: Relevant Advances of the Broad CRPD Legislative Agenda, but Significant Gaps in Implementing its ICT Accessibility Dispositions
While noting progress in developing national legislations reflecting the core dispositions of the CRPD, the report documents significant deficits in promoting policies and programs to make essential services accessible to persons with disabilities around the world. For example: While 86 percent of ratifying countries now have a general legislation protecting the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and 63 percent have a definition of "Reasonable Accommodation" included in laws or regulations - a significant advance since the launch of the CRPD - basic policies for the implementation of its ICT accessibility dispositions are lacking.
In particular, the accessibility of the information infrastructure, a vital area of ICT accessibility with the greatest impact on the largest population of users, is lagging behind ratifying countries’ general commitments to the CRPD:
- More than 80 percent of countries surveyed in 2013 report no or minimum levels of implementation of policies or programs promoting accessibility in critical areas such as mobile telephony, web sites, fixed telephony, transportation public address systems, television or Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs).
Javed Abidi, Chairperson of Disabled People’s International stated: “Depriving persons with disabilities from equal access to essential ICT based applications and services violates the core dispositions of Article 9 of the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and creates an unsustainable economic and social development gap in our digital age.”
A second critical gap, which speaks to the role of persons with disabilities in the implementation of the CRPD, involves the support of Disabled Persons Organizations (DPOs). States Parties’ policies are inconsistent with Article 4 (i) 3 of the CRPD and reflect a lack of respect for the participation of persons with disabilities.
A third vital area of information and ICT accessibility related to the CRPD, and which remains low among surveyed countries, involves awareness raising and capacity building for persons with disabilities and key stakeholders.
- About 66 percent of countries surveyed in 2013 do not offer financial support for DPOs and NGOs for their work in developing policies and programs. Yet, regression analysis across 76 countries data sets reveals that the participation of persons with disabilities is a common denominator among countries with the most successful ICT accessibility implementations.
- While 52 percent of the countries surveyed in 2013 promote awareness-raising and training programs about the CRPD, a mere 11 percent provide mandatory training programs for future professionals about digital access for persons with disabilities. This is inconsistent with Article 8 of the Convention and reflects a lack of understanding of the relationship between digital access rights and the capability of countries to engage in capacity building and inclusive development efforts to reflect CRPD dispositions.
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. While most countries are generally aware of their basic obligation to implement ICT accessibility, they have not: (1) translated essential CRPD dispositions into actual policies or programs, and (2) included persons with disabilities in the foundational countrywide policy development processes and capacity-building necessary to achieve valued outcomes. As a result, more than one-fifth of the world’s population may be vulnerable to a digital divide.
Axel Leblois, President and Executive Director of G3ict said: “This 2013 edition of the CRPD ICT Accessibility Progress Report, which covers two third of the world population, documents critical global gaps in ICT accessibility. Those facts call for the United Nations post-2015 agenda to incorporate ICTs as a critical success factor for the inclusion of persons with disabilities.”
Each of the critical areas of the Convention cited above present opportunities for improvement by ratifying countries, particularly in relation to their capacity for implementation and involvement of persons with disabilities and other stakeholders. Bridging those vital gaps requires more than Governments work and resources. It requires a long-term partnership between the public sector, industry, DPOs and NGOs.Note on Methodology:
The third edition of the CRPD ICT Accessibility Progress Report covers 76 countries including 74 ratifying countries, South Sudan (formerly part of a ratifying country Sudan) and the United States as a benchmark country. Those 76 countries represent 72 percent of the world population and 81 percent of the total population of ratifying countries. Two sets of surveys – one for legal experts, one for accessibility experts – were filled out by 87 local respondents in 76 countries. Data collection for the third edition of the Progress Report was completed in cooperation with Disabled People’s International (DPI) and various disabled person’s organizations and experts in countries where DPI correspondents were not available.
The publication of this report was supported with grants from Adobe Systems, AT&T, Google, IBM, Microsoft, and Time Warner Cable.
Statistical tables and the full report, with detailed data analysis, are available on the G3ict publications page.
G3ict – the Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies – is an advocacy initiative launched in December 2006 by the United Nations Global Alliance for ICT and Development, 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, UN Global Compact 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 (U.S. 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.