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Viviana Montenegro

  Inclusive Policy

03/07/2014

Enabling Environments to Persons with Disabilities: How Much Progress Has Been Achieved?

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In order for persons with disabilities to be able to participate and actively engage with all aspects of society, including economic, social, civic, and cultural activities, it is essential to provide them the right tools to mobilize and live as independently as possible.
 
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities emphasizes the importance of improving the access to buildings, roads, transportation, communication and information as a whole

Image: The United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities emphasizes the importance of improving the access to buildings, roads, transportation, communication and information as a whole.

The data results by region as shown in Table 1 from the CRPD 2013 ICT Accessibility Progress Report, researched by G3ict in collaboration with Disabled People’s International, makes it evident that there are still challenges that Member States face in this respect. The following four main policies intended to cover specific areas and ICT technologies were chosen to gauge the level of achievement for inclusive environments among the 76 Member States, and these are: 1. Inclusive education, 2. Public building displays, 3. Transportation, public address systems and services, and 4. Work accommodation.

Accessible Transport and Facilities

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities emphasizes the importance of improving the access to buildings, roads, transportation, communication and information as a whole. In other words, it translates into a concrete way of promoting their participation in civic life, giving them access to good quality education, to health services, and labor markets. The data extracted from the G3ict Report shows that public building displays are not fully achieved, and it is still a challenge in many regions. For example, only 43 percent of the countries in Africa, 21 percent of the surveyed Asian countries and 23 percent of the Latin American and Caribbean countries reported to have them in place. The lack of policies promoting this type of services can end in the exclusion of PWD and/or on making them dependent on other people to lead a fully functional life.

It is important to foster accessible transportation. It facilitates access to labor, health, social and recreational activities. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the lack of accessible transportation constitutes the second most important reason to discourage PWD to seek a job. Some countries have insufficiently implemented policies to promote transportation, public address systems and services, such as Africa (18 percent), Asia (36 percent), while other regions such as North America (100 percent), Europe (71 percent) and Oceania (50 percent) have made substantial improvement on implementing accessible transportation.

Access to Education

Approximately 150 million children live with a type of disability today. Historically speaking, many children and adults have been excluded from receiving education. In many countries, generally, children with disabilities are less likely to start school. The CRPD recognizes the right of children with disabilities for equal access to the educational system and to receive individual support when necessary. As stated by WHO: “…education contributes to human capital formation and thus it is a key determinant of personal well-being and welfare” (World Report on Disability). It is crucial for countries to implement policies that promote accessible primary, secondary and higher education. In regard to primary and secondary, the surveying countries have shown some progress in accessible education matters: Africa (48 percent), Asia (43 percent), Europe (83 percent), Latin America and the Caribbean (54 percent), North America (100 percent) and Oceania (75 percent).

According to the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the goal is that all children with disabilities can be educated in regular classrooms with age-appropriate peers. Inclusive education means identifying and eliminating the barriers, providing reasonable accommodation at schools. From a social point of view, it can change attitude towards those considered “different,” by educating all together in the same establishment. In addition, there is an associated economic benefit. Establishing and running schools that educate all children together is less costly than setting up separate schools specializing in different groups of children with different educational curricula. However, educational needs should be assessed in regards to what is best for each student, to the human and financial resources available in the countries.

Access to Employment

As stated by the WHO report, almost all jobs can be performed by persons with disabilities, and if inserted in the right environment most people with disabilities can be productive. However, it is well-known that PWD experience lower employment than persons without disabilities. The CRPD recognizes the rights of PWD to work on an equal basis to others; this refers to the opportunity of gaining a living by working freely and in a work environment that is open, inclusive and accessible to persons with disabilities. The G3ict study shows variability among the regions in this regard, as follows: Africa (48 percent), Asia (36 percent), Europe (72 percent), Latin America and the Caribbean (54 percent), North America (100 percent) and Oceania (100 percent).

Undoubtedly, ratifying countries have shown progress in promoting inclusive policies. The real benefit is achieved when policies for accessible education, transportation, buildings and accommodation at work are implemented cohesively. In addition, knowing how much progress is actually accomplished by countries around the world in ICT accessibility is an essential step for all stakeholders in order to address gaps and opportunities in their own countries. However, this implementation has to be consistent and simultaneous across all areas in order to fully benefit persons with disabilities to live independent and fulfilling lives.

Table 1: Policies Covering Specific Application Areas and Specific ICT Technologies

Policies Covering Specific ICT Technologies

             

 

Africa

Asia

Europe

Latin America and The Caribbean

North America

Oceania

Grand Total

Transportation Public Address Systems and Services

18%

36%

71%

46%

100%

50%

42%

Public Building Displays

43%

21%

50%

23%

100%

50%

38%

               

Policies Covering Specific Application Areas

             

 

Africa

Asia

Europe

Latin America and The Caribbean

North America

Oceania

Grand Total

Primary and Secondary Education

48%

43%

83%

54%

100%

75%

59%

Higher Education

39%

36%

72%

50%

100%

100%

53%

Reasonable Accommodation at Workplace

48%

36%

72%

54%

100%

100%

56%

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Related Resources

Blog: Role of Disabled People Organizations in Promoting the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: The Need for Better Implementation Mechanism | Read Viviana Montenegro's Article.

Publication: CRPD 2013 ICT Accessibility Progress Report | Download the PDF.

Event: 8th European e-Accessibility Forum: User Driven e-Accessibility | Paris, March 31, 2014 | View Event Details.