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Viviana Montenegro

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02/13/2014

Role of Disabled People Organizations in Promoting the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: The Need for Better Implementation Mechanism


While we can see some progress in the laws and regulations that have been passed among the UN CRPD ratifying countries surveyed in the CRPD 2013 ICT Accessibility Progress Report, there are still important gaps between legislation and implementation, writes Viviana Montenegro, G3ict Research Analyst.

DPOs very often struggle with organizational and technical weaknesses while lacking financial and human resourc

Image: DPOs very often struggle with organizational and technical weaknesses while lacking financial and human resource. Picture courtesy Handicap International Report, Support to Organizations Representative of Persons with Disabilities.

Based on G3ict’s recent data analysis for the 2013 ICT Accessibility Progress Report, there are many examples showing considerable gaps between legislation and implementation. In this blog post, I will focus on Disabled People’s Organizations (DPOs) due to their special role in promoting inclusive societies towards achieving full inclusion for persons with disabilities. The role of DPOs is crucial to ensure increased progress in CRPD implementation and digital accessibility in their respective countries.

The CRPD ICT Progress report mentions that “DPOs today are empowered by the rights-based approach of the CRPD and see their role as being, first and foremost, advocates  for  the  empowerment  and  the active  participation of persons with disabilities in decision making,” which translates into: Nothing about us without us. Also the 2011 policy paper, “Support to Organizations Representative of Persons with Disabilities,” by Handicap International (HI) emphasizes the role of DPOs. It is crucial to engage DPOs in projects and initiatives in support of the disability movement since they are essential actors to improve the participation of persons with disabilities and they have a special role to play to enhance access to quality services for the community.

Gaps in Implementation of CRPD Dispositions

Unfortunately, data analysis shows evidences that there is still much work to do in this respect. In many countries DPOs have often had limited opportunities to develop relevant capacities and resources. Statistical data shows that 74 percent of the surveyed countries reported to have laws, policies or programs to ensure that PWD and their representative organizations are consulted in the development and implementation of legislation; however the majority of the ratifying countries reported not to have a systematic mechanism to involve DPOs working in laws or policies concerning digital access.

Persons with Disabilities represent around 15 percent of the world population or nearly one billion people, the largest minority in the world. Developing alliances across different disability groups is an essential way to build the legitimacy and credibility of DPOs to represent and advocate on behalf of this large section of the population. In low or middle income countries where the majority of persons with disabilities live, the fact that they are usually denied education opportunities has significant impact on the capacities of their representative organizations. According to Handicap International, DPOs very often struggled with organizational and technical weaknesses while lacking financial and human resources. This situation limits their efficiency and impact. Therefore, governments should allocate resources to provide them the financial tools necessary to fully achieve inclusion for PWD.

Furthermore, the G3ict Report states that only 20 percent of the low income countries and 19 percent of the lower middle surveyed states reported to have financial support from their governments. As shown below (graph 1), 87 percent of the surveyed countries reported not having mechanism to involve DPOs in the development of laws and only 24 percent of the countries reported to have a forum promoting the active collaboration among NGOs and the government.

Graph 1: 87 percent of the countries surveyed reported not having mechanism to involve DPOs in the development of laws

Graph 1: 87 percent of the countries surveyed reported not having mechanism to involve DPOs in the development of laws

While efforts are still needed to achieve an optimum level of implementation, there are countries that have made significant improvement in this respect. A positive example to share is the case of Bangladesh. In this country, the government is funding, through the Science and Technology Ministry, the Access to Information (A2I) Project to make it accessible for persons with disabilities. Shahjalal University of Science and Technology and Bangladesh Visually Impaired People’s Society (BVIPS), a DPO, got funds for making text-to-screen Bangla software Mongolian for people with visual impairments.

Key Takeaways for DPOs and Stakeholders:

  • Countries providing financial support to DPOs and NGOs in the field of digital access are more likely to have in place programs to facilitate the use of telephony by PwDs.
  • Countries with active forum between NGOs and systematic mechanisms to involve DPOs in law development are more likely to have in place ‘captioning of pre-recorded programs or movies and alternative input devices’.

Monitoring policy and law enforcement

Countries that have:

  • Laws providing services to the general public, including through the Internet, to provide information and services in accessible and usable formats for persons with disabilities are more likely to have financial support for their DPOs and NGOs.
  • Laws or regulations defining the rights of persons with disabilities and laws that facilitate access by persons with disabilities to quality mobility aids, devices, and assistive technologies are more likely to have a government body dedicated to PwDs.

Furthermore, the results from this new edition of the G3ICT Report could also help DPOs and NGOs to determine which actions need to be taken to facilitate the implementation of the CRPD. On a regional level, DPOs and NGOs can also use the data to gauge the lack of CRPD compliance by governments in  order  to  raise  the  awareness  of  the  challenges  and  opportunities  of  ICTs  and  ATs for persons with disabilities and facilitate the sharing of lessons learned, good practices, tools and products.

CRPD 2013 ICT Accessibility Progress Report - Download Free PDF!

Overview and Methodology | List of Participating Countries | Summary Tables

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Related Resources

Press Release: CRPD 2013 Progress Report Demonstrates Need to Incorporate Accessible Technology and Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships in National Disability-Inclusive Strategies to Achieve Critical Success | Read Press Release

Blog: How Financial Services Providers Can Extend Disability Inclusion| Read Pina D'Intino's Article.

Publication: The ICT Opportunity for a Disability-Inclusive Development Framework | Download Free PDF.

Event: G3ict ICT Accessibility Week India | New Delhi and Mumbai, February 13-21, 2014 | View Event Details.

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• Zimbabwe: When Disability Equals Exclusion

• Nominations Open for U.S. FCC Chairman’s Award for Advancement in Accessibility (AAA)

• Disabled Peoples' International (DPI) 8th World Assembly, Durban, South Africa


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