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Nilofar Ansher



11/29/2013

"More Than One-Fifth of the World’s Population May be Vulnerable to a Digital Divide"

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More than one-fifth of the world’s population may be vulnerable to a digital divide, says a new report released by G3ict - The Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs. Article compiled by G3ict Research Team.
 
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The CRPD Progress Report highlights critical areas that show deficit in making essential services accessible to persons with disabilities around the world.

Developed by The Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs (G3ict) in cooperation with Disabled People’s International (DPI), the CRPD 2013 ICT Accessibility Progress Report is a resource for advocates and policy makers to benchmark progress in making ICTs accessible in compliance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). This third edition covers 72 ratifying countries representing 65 percent of the world population.
 
Based on the findings from the 2010 and 2012 editions of the CRPD Progress Report, it was 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 system.

This transformation can be seen in several countries that have implemented core dispositions of the CRPD.

  • In Australia, Bolivia, Cook Island, France, Lesotho, Mauritius, Mexico, Montenegro, and Uganda, major universities provide assistive technologies to students with disabilities.

  • Persons who are blind or visually impaired have access to public libraries and ebooks in Brazil, Chile, China, Cook Island, France, India, Jamaica, Montenegro, Nepal, New Zealand, Niger, Peru, Thailand, Tunisia, Zambia.

  • When it comes to governments providing accessible services, countries such as Brazil, Cook Island, Denmark, Egypt, India, Mauritius, Montenegro, New Zealand, Portugal, Qatar, South Sudan, Tunisia, Uganda take the lead.

  • Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Jamaica, Qatar, Syria, Thailand have set up Technical Assistance Center that Provides Information and Support on Assistive Technologies

  • Automated Transaction Machines (ATMs) or Kiosks are available in Burkina Faso, Greece, India, Malaysia, New Zealand, UK, Zambia, allowing access to financial services for several thousands (Read more about Financial Services Accessibility).

Despite the progress made by several countries, the report shows that accessibility of the information infrastructure is lagging behind ratifying countries’ general commitments to the CRPD: More than 80 percent of countries in 2013 report no or minimum levels of implementation of policies or programs promoting accessibility in critical areas such as mobile telephony, websites, fixed telephony, transportation public address systems, television or Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs).

Other critical areas also show deficit in making essential services accessible to persons with disabilities around the world. For example:

● Only 31 percent of the countries have government funds allocated to programs in support of ICT accessibility in both 2012 and 2013, indicating a lack of progress,

● In 2013, only 31 percent of the countries report that they have public procurement policies promoting ICT accessibility, meaning that a majority of countries continue to buy equipment or services which may be inaccessible to persons with disabilities; and           

● While 53 percent of the countries promote awareness-raising and training programs about the CRPD, a mere 10 percent provide mandatory training programs for future professionals about digital access for persons with disabilities.

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.”

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.

ICT policies and programs should be seen not as one-time interventions, or solely as check-offs to demonstrate compliance with global treaties, but as processes which promote learning and human development from trial and error, and creating spaces for engagement with different social groups.

The full report, with detailed data and analysis, will be available soon. You can access the Preliminary Findings of the Report, List of Participating Countries and Summary Tables on G3ict website.

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Related Resource

Event: G3ict Leads Disability Sessions at the Financial Inclusion 2020 Global Forum | October 27–30, 2013 | Event Details.

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

Blog: Better Deployment of Accessible Electronic Kiosks and ATMs for Persons with Disabilities | Read Article.

Program: G3ict Global Survey on Accessibility of Financial Services | Take the Survey