G3ict is the Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs

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Robert Pearson

Accessible Media

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Taking a DEEPer Look at Accessibility

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend, sponsor, speak at and cover as a media organization, the Designing and Enabling Economies and Policies (DEEP) Conference hosted by G3ict and OCAD University in Toronto, Ontario. 

International thought leaders on digital inclusion to converge at OCAD University

In keeping with its designation, the intent of this conference was to take a ‘deeper’ dive into Article 9 of the Convention of Rights for Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) to explore and establish new policy levers to assist with its implementation. By bringing together a diverse range of global perspectives on digital accessibility, numerous breakouts, brainstorming sessions and discussions occurred in an effort to leverage and develop new levers and move the industry forward.

DEEP 2012 Conference: Axel Leblois, Executive Director, G3ict (extreme right)

Axel Leblois, G3ict Executive Director (extreme right) with AMI National Reporter Kelly MacDonald (center) 

OCAD University opens Inclusive Design Institute 

OCAD University opens Inclusive Design Institute

Accessibility has for a long time been associated with only regulations and standards. To be accessible was to be accessible to a guideline and this assessment was repeated time and again.  What is lacking in that definition though is a sense of inclusion. In recognition of this, it was appropriate that the DEEP conference was co-located with the opening of the Inclusive Design Institute at OCAD University.

The concept of inclusion raises questions about the definition of accessibility:  

1) Is accessibility a right?- Is not providing it a denial of that right?
2) Is a lack of accessibility discrimination?
3) Is accessibility the death of design?
4) Does the provision of disability access harms innovation?

I had the opportunity to participate in two breakout sessions over the course of the two days, 'Broadcasting and New Media' and 'CRPD Policy Levers'.  We are a unique media company in Canada, providing an audio reading service and a fully described and captioned television service along with a Canadian broadcasting industry Described Video TV Guide.

Accessible Media Inc. (AMI) Described Video (DV) TV Guide

It was enlightening to gain many international perspectives on the development of new policy levels in the area of funding, research and marketing for media and specifically that which has been made accessible.  As our discussions took place, common themes began to develop that began to highlight what worked and what did not and also where more support could be given in jurisdictions where regulations such as the Ontario Accessibility Standards do not exist.  Similarly, having our Canadian perspective on a collaborative and supportive regulatory environment was an interesting juxtaposition to other jurisdictions policies when discussing the development of new CRPD Policy Levers.

The coming G3ict whitepaper that will showcase the results of the discussions at DEEP will highlight these numerous new policy lever ideas. Many of these will be worthy of an in-depth exploration. They will include the idea of utilizing the Cloud to ensure accessibility, which could be through the personalization of services that could be available to the user in any device at any time in the format required.  Another idea was highlighted at the end of the two days by an attendee, she herself with a mobility restriction, who spoke of the use of a phrase during the conference: ‘extreme user'. As we strive to move away from nomenclature that does not appropriately describe an individual, the use of phrases such as these will no doubt support that.

The second day concluded with several useful discussions led by Richard Donovan, Pina D'Intino, David Lepofksky, and Kristyn Wong-Tam, who is a Toronto city councillor and who spoke of the idea of a municipally-funded financial institution as well as wider ideas for inclusion that she has begun to develop in the highly multicultural city of Toronto. In keeping with the out-of-the-box thinking theme of the conference, we appropriately concluded with a presentation given by Don Tapscott who showcased just how economies and policies around the world are changing because of the Internet and technology. It put into the context how the work begun here at DEEP in Toronto, will become a catalyst for ongoing policy development work around the implementation of Article 9 in jurisdictions worldwide.

Robert PearsonRobert Pearson is an information technology professional who has been functioning, influencing, and engaging in the accessibility industry since 1999. As a Director with Accessible Media Inc (AMI), Robert is in a position to advocate, support and promote the community from which he came. Robert regularly speaks about his experiences within the industry and some of the personal challenges he has faced with his own unique disability. 


Related Blog: Mobile Innovations for Persons with Disabilities Require Increased Spectrum by Axel Leblois. Read the article.

Related Publication: Implementing Inclusive Education: A Commonwealth Guide to Implementing Article 24 of the UNCRPD (Second Edition). Download a free copy of the report.

Related Event: 4th International Disability Summer School, Galway, Ireland | June 18-23, 2012. View details


Related Items:

• The Archimedes Project


• Video: DEEP 2012 Conference Diary by Accessible Media Inc

• UNIC Moscow: Participation in the 3rd International Conference of the Moscow City Government's "Equal Rights - Equal Opportunities" Program, 1 July 2011

• G3ict Partners with OCAD University's DEEP 2014: Designing Enabling Economies and Policies, Toronto, Canada

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