IGF 2019 WS #64 Internet Accessibility Empowering Persons with Disabilities

Organizer 1: Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Speaker 1: Jorge Manhique, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 2: Bunmi Durowoju, Technical Community, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Gunela Astbrink, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 4: Shadi Abou-Zahra, Technical Community, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 5: Tim Unwin, Intergovernmental Organization, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Policy Question(s): 

1. How can universal design principles for accessibility be advanced across the internet to improve the experience of those with disabilities?
2. What uses of ICTs are enabled by the Internet today for the empowerment of persons with disabilities? What is coming down the pipeline?
3. What can the IGF community do to further action and cross-sector collaboration to realize the potential of the internet to improve the experience of those with disabilities?
4. What priorities and/or changes are needed from an Internet governance policy standpoint to accelerate progress towards a more inclusive internet for persons with disabilities?

Relevance to Theme: Improving the ability of those with disabilities to use and enjoy the internet is core to the theme of digital inclusion. Fifteen percent of the world’s population lives with some form of disability, representing more than one billion people globally and constituting the world’s largest minority, with eighty percent of persons with disabilities live in developing countries. Internet-enabled Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) play an increasingly active role in shaping the latest trends in assistive technologies and specially-developed technologies for persons with disabilities. Among other things, ICTs help break through barriers to communication and access to information and are also enhancing mobility and fostering independent living, thereby contributing to greater social, cultural, political and economic integration and inclusion.

Relevance to Internet Governance: Internet governance is, and must continue to be, a leading force in advancing disability access online. Meaningfully advancing disability access will not be possible without using the open and inclusive multi-stakeholder Internet governance process to develop norms, incentives, and rules for disability access.

Format: 

Round Table - U-shape - 90 Min

Description: Fifteen percent of the world’s population lives with some form of disability, representing more than one billion people globally and constituting the world’s largest minority. This percentage is growing through population growth, medical advances, the rise in chronic conditions and ageing of populations, and eighty percent of persons with disabilities live in developing countries. Internet-enabled Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) play an increasingly active role in shaping the latest trends in assistive technologies and specially-developed technologies for persons with disabilities. Among other things, ICTs help break through barriers to communication and access to information and are also enhancing mobility and fostering independent living, thereby contributing to greater social, cultural, political and economic integration and inclusion. Some examples of ICTs that are being put to innovative uses by and for persons with disabilities include voice and facial recognition, virtual keyboards, and mobile applications that utilize artificial intelligence capabilities.

Throughout the world, while some persons with disabilities are already benefiting from the advantages of ICT-enabled services, much more needs to be done to increase access, affordability and skills and to further develop technologies to their full potential for maximum positive impact for all persons with disabilities everywhere. This is especially important because persons with disabilities are overrepresented among those living in poverty, disability being both a cause and a consequence of poverty. Twenty percent of the world’s poorest people have some kind of disability and tend to be regarded in their own communities as the most disadvantaged.

This session will explore innovative uses of ICTs for the empowerment of persons with disabilities, first seeking to enhance awareness of what is already possible as well as what is coming down the pipeline. This initial discussion will inspire the IGF community to further action and cross-sector collaboration to realize the potential of ICTs in this context, invoking both (1) an exploration of what is needed from an Internet governance policy standpoint to accelerate progress towards a more inclusive ICT-enabled future through and with the full participation of persons with disabilities and (2) Internet governance-related calls to action to the IGF community to advance accessibility for persons with disabilities.

Confirmed workshop moderator and participants:
- Brian Scarpelli, ACT | The App Association (N America)[Moderator]
- Jorge Manhique, Disability Rights Fund (Europe)
- Bunmi Durowoju, Microsoft (Africa)
- Gunela Astbrink, GSA InfoComm (Australia)
- Shadi Abou-Zahra, W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (Europe)
- Tim Unwin, UNESCO Chair in ICT4D (UK)

Expected Outcomes: 1. Understand how universal design principles for accessibility be advanced across the internet to improve the experience of those with disabilities.
2. Capture and understand the uses of ICTs enabled by the Internet that are, today, empowering persons with disabilities, as well as what is coming down the pipeline.
3. Learn about what the IGF community do to further action and cross-sector collaboration to realize the potential of the internet to improve the experience of those with disabilities.
4. Appreciate the diverse perspectives regarding priorities and/or changes are needed from an Internet governance policy standpoint to accelerate progress towards a more inclusive internet for persons with disabilities, and take action to address needed changes.

Discussion Facilitation: 

For each of the areas of interest, introductory short presentations/remarks by experts will provide basic knowledge and discuss important trade-offs. The moderator will ensure the active participation of the audience, who will be able to intervene and ask questions to the experts. Sufficient time will be given to online participants to ask questions, by the online participator. Following these initial interventions, the roundtable will get to the heart of the debate, guided by the moderator who will begin by giving an opportunity to online and in-person participants to pose questions and discuss views on the strategies presented. The moderator will guide the debate on investment strategies with the goal of finding common ground between views brought forward. In addition to the background documents and papers that will be prepared ahead of the IGF, additional articles of interest, reference materials and social media conversations will be published and distributed ahead of the workshop. The moderator and organizing team will work with speakers in advance as to ensure the quality and the content of the discussion.

Online Participation: 

The online moderator will encourage remote participation through various social networking platforms in addition to the platform provided by the IGF Secretariat. After the first round of interventions, the discussion section of the roundtable will open up with an invitation to online participants to weigh in on strategies discussed and pose questions to the speakers. The organizing team will work to promote the activity on social media, and will specially invite relevant stakeholders to join the session and share questions ahead of the debate. Online participants will be given priority to speak, and their participation will be encouraged by the online and in-person moderators.

SDGs: 

GOAL 1: No Poverty
GOAL 2: Zero Hunger
GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-Being
GOAL 4: Quality Education
GOAL 5: Gender Equality
GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
GOAL 10: Reduced Inequalities
GOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
GOAL 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
GOAL 17: Partnerships for the Goals