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Workshop 9: Report of the ITU Workshop on: “Including Accessibility and Human Factors in the Universalization of the Internet - How to reach persons with disabilities, the 10% of the next billion”

Report of the ITU Workshop on:
Including Accessibility and Human Factors in the Universalization of the Internet - How to reach persons with disabilities, the 10% of the next billion”


(Hyderabad, India, 4 December 2008)


The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in collaboration with the Dynamic Coalition on Accessibility and Disability (DCAD) organized a workshop at the 3rd Internet Governance Forum (IGF) meeting on “Including Accessibility and Human Factors in the Universalization of the Internet - How to reach persons with disabilities, the 10% of the next billion” on 4 December 2008, in Hyderabad, India.

The programme of the workshop focused on the different aspects of web accessibility for persons with disabilities. Most of the panelists were persons with disabilities themselves. The DCAD promotes working directly with persons with disabilities in order to benefit from their real-life experiences.  Organizations that are members of DCAD include the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), Council of Europe, Digital Accessible Information System Consortium (DAISY Consortium), Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies (G3ict), International Center for Disability Resources on the Internet (ICDRI), Internet Society (ISOC), Internet Society Argentina (ISOC-AR), Mais Diferenças and Literacy Bridge, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), People Who, UNESCO, Web Accessibility Initiative (W3C). One new member joined during the IGF: the Indian Centre for Internet & Society.


The moderator of the workshop was Stefano Polidori, Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, ITU, who replaced the JCA-AHF Convener and DCAD Coordinator, Ms. Andrea Saks, who was unable to attend.

Malcolm Johnson, TSB Director, ITU, delivering the keynote address stated that making ICTs more accessible is a priority for the Standardization Sector of the ITU (ITU-T) and those standards have an enormous role to play. ITU-T recognised along with its members, that in order to achieve the ITU’s number one objective – to connect the world – ten per cent of the global population with disabilities is an important constituency.

The workshop hosted seven panelists; their contributions are available on the web at:

The first speaker was Cynthia Waddell, International Center for Disability Resources on the Internet, who gave a presentation on “UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD): How does it Impact the Internet?” In her speech Cynthia presented the role of government in carrying out ICT obligations of the UN Convention and the best practices for government in supporting accessibility standards.

Shadi Abou-Zahra, W3C Web Accessibility Initiative, indicated that in order to lead the Web to its full potential – which includes the promotion of a high degree of usability for persons with disabilities – lots of work has to be done and this should involve different stakeholders in Web accessibility. This presentation explained how the adoption of international standards for Web accessibility, the W3C/WAI guidelines for Web content, authoring tools, browsers and media players, play a key role in enabling accessibility for people with disabilities.

Jorge Plano, Internet Society (ISOC-Argentina), illustrated the lack of web accessibility laws in developing countries and introduced some guidelines to help make them a reality.

Fernando Botelho, Mais Diferenças and Literacy Bridge, discussed raising awareness about low cost and free alternatives for assistive technologies. His presentation included practical examples of low and no-cost assistive technologies (LNCTs), common obstacles to their wide-spread adoption of and strategies to overcome them.

Arnoud van Wijk, Internet Society, focused his presentation on the real-time text technology in Internet, which has become an essential accessibility feature for hearing impaired persons.  The widespread adoption of the real-time text will allow freedom of communication and new services (e.g. relay and remote interpreter and mobile text telephony).

Peter Major, ITU Bureau of Radiocommunication (BR), introduced the Accessibility Pilot Project which by modifying the Space Network Systems (SNS) online will make web pages accessible for the visually impaired.

He talked about the use of available tools (e.g. Cynthia says, Wave and Jaws) to identify accessibility problems. Finally he explained that the Study Groups of the Radiocommunication Sector of the ITU (ITU-R) are working to incorporate these approaches in Recommendations.

Dipendra Manocha, Daisy Consortium, introduced the topic of information accessibility for disaster preparedness. As recently and sadly shown during most recent natural and man-made disasters, large populations in the developing countries are especially exposed to vulnerabilities because of the lack of information and preparedness. Those vulnerabilities are multiplied for persons with any kind of physical or sensory impairment.

DAISY Consortium is facilitating and creating open source solutions for accessible information. DAISY, as a standard for accessibility of digital content, has a big role to play in ensuring accessibility of the information related to all aspects of disaster management. The open source playback solutions can be customised for all user groups which makes DAISY a valuable way to access and produce information for a critical issue like disaster management.


The workshop introduced existing technologies and international standards for Internet accessibility as well as the roles that various stakeholders, including the private sector, standard development organizations (SDOs) and Governments have to play. It highlighted the necessity of making the Internet accessible to all, regardless of individual capabilities of different users. This has of course an impact not only on the need to eliminate information deprivation but also to eliminate socio-economic discrimination. Moreover including the needs of persons with disabilities in the planning of the universalization of the Internet will facilitate reaching the next billion and increase the participation in the Global Internet Society.

The Workshop was captioned thanks to the kind sponsorship of Internet Society (ISOC).

Contact Information

United Nations
Secretariat of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)

Villa Le Bocage
Palais des Nations,
CH-1211 Geneva 10

igf [at] un [dot] org
+41 (0) 229 173 411