IGF 2019 – Day 2 – Raum I – Accessible ICT in Education & Employment DCAD

The following are the outputs of the real-time captioning taken during the Fourteenth Annual Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Berlin, Germany, from 25 to 29 November 2019. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the event, but should not be treated as an authoritative record. 



>> GUNELA ASTBRINK:  Hello, everyone, and welcome to this Dynamic Coalition on accessibility and disability workshop entitled  Accessible ICT in Education and Employment.  And we have a number of panelists who will discuss this topic based on a number of policy questions that we in the Dynamic Coalition have formulated.

Before we go ahead, I would like to pass on to Markus Kummer from the IGF Support Organisation to say a few words.

>> MARKUS KUMMER:  Thank you, Gunela.  Thank you everyone. I'm Markus Kummer, Chair of the IGF Support Association, and we are happy to work with the DCAD.  We have a small fund within our budget for enhancing accessibility at the IGF that is used for offering real time transcription for calls in between, not at the meeting itself, that is part of the overall budget, but we have provided real time transcription for calls of the Dynamic Coalitions and of the MAG, and this time we were also able to provide travel assistance to some of the speakers here.

So for us it's a great privilege and honour that allows me to make a small commercial for IGF FSA.  I encourage you to become members and our General Assembly is tomorrow in room B.  Thank you.

>> GUNELA ASTBRINK: Thank you very much for that, and on behalf of the Dynamic Coalition on Accessibility and Disability, we wish to thank you and the IGF SA very much for your support in a number of ways including the opportunity to bring three of us speakers and moderators to the IGF to present this workshop.  So thank you very much.

All right.  So we have a short time to cover a lot of very interesting topics in the area of accessibility in education and employment.  So we without further ado, I will introduce the speakers, and we intend to make this session as interactive as possible.  So if there are people sitting in the back rows who wish to move to tables, we would welcome that, but we will invite short interventions from each of the panelists and I will introduce them one by one and then well delve into the policy questions and that will be moderated by Judy Okite.  I would like to begin with Jorge Manhique, he is Marie research fellow at the institute, and I apologize for my bad pronunciation at the University of Lisbon.

We had a speaker, Patrick Ojok from Uganda, but unfortunately, he had travel issues and can't be with us at the moment.  We have Peter Crosbie who is autistic and advocates for the autistic community, in particular autistic rights and inclusion, and Anne Igeltjorn from Norway in a Universal Design Institute based at the University in Oslo and Abdoulaye Dembele who is a telecom engineer and Vice Rapporteur.  I'm trying to say this in English based on the French explanation, and he is the Vice Rapporteur of question 7 in the ICT Accessibility Study Group.

So welcome all here.  And I will pass on to Judy now to start the ball rolling with the discussion.  And before I do actually, we do have Judith Hellerstein.  In and Judith, would you like to say if there are any remote participants?

>> REMOTE MODERATOR: This is Judith Hellerstein.  We do have some remote participants on here and our scribes are on here too.  So I have noted in the chat that for them to please let us know.  We have Vrikson A.C. Sosta, Rebecca Tallarico, Josh Konibe on the remote chat.  So we do have a small group.  Thank you.

>>  GUNELA ASTBRINK:  I will pass now to Judy Okite who is active in IGF in Kenya and Africa as a whole.  Thank you.

>> MODERATOR:  Thank you very much, Gunela.  My name is Judy Okite from Nairobi, Kenya founder of Association for Accessibility and Equality, and what we do is to raise awareness on the accessibility issues both online and offline.  We also audit physical spaces concerning accessibility as regarding persons with disabilities.  I have been with DCAD for almost eight years now discussing on the issues of accessibility, more especially within the IGF spaces.

I have also been in the MAG for three years.  I retired now and I look forward to further discussions.  Thank you.  I would like to request Manhique, if you could start with introducing yourself and telling us something about you.

>> JORGE MANHIQUE:  Thank you so much.  My name is Jorge Manhique.  I am from Mozambique.  I just moved to Lisbon two months ago, but before that I used to work for a foundation called Disability Rights Fund, and as part of my work was really to provide support to organisations of persons with disabilities to implement projects to implement the CRPD at the international level and that is the right to access information and communication technology.  So we provided financial and technical support.  Right now I am doing research on inclusion of persons with disabilities in international development program, which is very important when we talk about accessibility, especially because many of the technologies that we use in the global, that Persons with Disabilities use in the global sort produced in the global note, and as Government and citizens in the global sort have power to influence what is being developed and the standards that those products and services will then have.  So I think international cooperation and development programmes are very important in this regard because we can bring in the conversation about what is being produced here in the global note, and what the consumer needs in the global sort.

So I think this is a very important discussion as well to have.

>> MODERATOR:  Thank you very much.  I would like to take this opportunity to invite Peter Crosbie.

>> PETER CROSBIE:  Hi, I'm Peter, as Gunela said, I'm autistic.  I'm here today to just to speak on the barriers that people like me face in terms of ICT employment and education.

Though it has to be said these barriers have an impact on all aspects of our lives.  I will also make a couple of general points.  The kind of difficulties that we come up are issues with log in and authentication, being overwhelmed by too much information, problems with data entry and form filling, confusing or ambiguous content or layout, and difficulties with working through processes, especially multistake processes.

Now, all of this falls under the heading of cognitive accessibility, though from what I can see this is a term that many people including stakeholders don't really understand.  They don't understand what it is, what it looks like, or even who it applies to because cognitive accessibility isn't just for people like me or people who are, for example, people who are dyslexic.  It's for you.  It's for everyone because cognitive accessibility is about reducing cognitive load, that is reducing the amount of mental effort that's required to, say, navigate a website or use an app.

If you are tired, distressed, some of you here today, if you are jet lagged, if you are ill or on medication or in a state of shock or grief or even if you are someone who is less literate in digital terms, you will benefit from a reduced cognitive load when you come to use ICT.  It's the same with all accessibility measures, they benefit everyone, which is why it's essential that we see them as a starting point, not as an optional extra.

No one who designs a Chair sees accessibility as a limitation or only starts considering it once the Chair has been built, but that's what we are doing in the digital realm.  So the main point I would make today is this, until we change how we understand digital accessibility, rather than inclusion, these platforms will continue to build in exclusion, and while that's starts with people with cognitive disabilities, it doesn't end there.  Thank you.

>> MODERATOR:  Thank you very much.  Thank you, Peter, highly appreciated.  I will take this opportunity to invite Anne.  Will thank you.

>> ANNE IGELTJORN:  Thank you.  As said, I'm Anne Igeltjorn and I'm coming from Norway and I'm currently taking a master degree with a specialization field of Universal Design of ICT.  My experience with ICT in the Global South isn't as broad but I definitely have a couple of experiences in the Global North regarding user interfaces and websites and the development of them.

I think that interfaces and websites are a double edged sword at times about creating productivity.  My experience as a student is that a lot of these educational systems are really, really hard to get around with, and they are so complex so you are actually spending more time using the Web pages and trying to figure out how they work than actually doing the activity you want to do.

Since many of these web pages are poorly developed and they most likely haven't included the user at all while developing them, you end up having a poor development of the page.  So I can only imagine how people with assistive technology or persons with disabilities have to handle these pages which is really cumbersome at times.  I believe we could try to solve this issue you about us as professionals and ICT developers by including the users.

If we include a user and ask them how can we go about this and can he get corrections from the get‑go so when you start developing product all stakeholders should know that you include different user groups in developing ICT, you would also try to limit the issues that occurs and the barriers that occur, and it will also benefit everyone.

This way you will also have a confirmation when you are releasing the product that you have tested it with different user groups and that this is working at least for a subset of the different user groups.  I believe that if we do this, the productivity for going both into education and the employment field will increase, and I think that the barrier will be relieved.

This is something that requires a joint effort, but I think also making awareness for professionals and for the developers Ma makes the page about existing guidelines that it's trying to enhance Universal Design.  I'm not saying it will solve all of the Universal Design problems and accessibility problems, but it will definitely be a starting point so we can try to create a more inclusive digital environment.  Thank you.

>> MODERATOR:  Thank you very much, Anne, for your contribution.  I would like to take this opportunity to invite Abdoulaye Dembele to just give us a brief on how can the Global South influence ICT accessibility standards.  Thank you.


(Speaking non-English language)

>> I want to apologize that Mr. Abdoulaye Dembele's presentation has been translated for us in the room, but unfortunately, with the setup we have, remote participants are not able to hear that English translation into English.  So I just wanted to share that information.

>> MODERATOR:  Thank you very much, Gunela.  I would like to take the opportunity to invite Mr. Najeed Azizi.  I hope I say that correctly.  Thank you.

>> NAJEED AZIZI:  Good afternoon.  My name is Dr. Azizi.  I'm a civil activist and volunteer with the only blind school we have in Afghanistan for the last 13 years.  I wanted to share my experiences working with the blind community of Afghanistan in particular.  The kids and the youth are unfortunately not enjoying the vision that we can see everything, they feel everything.  In Afghanistan unfortunately we have got almost half a million of people who are either blind either fully or partially.

There are different reasons for that.  Of course, it's the national burden that comes with this burden, but at the same time more than 40 years of war has increased the number of people who cannot see with their eyes, and according to WHO statistics, every year around 25,000 Afghans lose their vision and mostly women and children are the categories that get least attention in terms of care and treatment of their eyes.

I have the pleasure to work for the last 13 years with this blind school where I have established a computer laboratory for them, and at the same time, I do try to raise funds locally and distribute Smart phones.  So this year alone, I contributed to all girls grade 4 and above, the school is from grade 1 to 12.  So grade 4 and above, they got fortunately the Smart phones, and they are able to access the Internet, however, the cost of Internet is a huge problem for them, because they even cannot do any sort of jobs.

The community is not responsive and receptive towards them, so the cost of Internet is a huge burden for them, but then at the same time when we see the overall infrastructure of school when it comes to ICT and education, it's not favorable towards those students and the literacy rate overall in the country is very low.  It's only 37%.  When it comes to digital skills, once again we realize that who so ever gets skills, they go to high paid jobs which is least relevant to education sector, like if someone has got a Bachelor's Degree in computer science or in IT, they would love to work either for a corporation or at least go to the Government and public sector and get better payments and they have got better opportunities to promote their careers.

So hardly people come to teaching side and then when it comes to a blind school like then 1% for someone to get attracted to these schools.  One thing that I would like to say is that based on my experiences, by the way, I have also, I recently completed my term as telecom regulatory of Afghanistan, so I have been on both sides of the table.  I used to be civil society, I went to the public sector and became a policy maker and now back I'm civil society.

One thing which is very important for us to realize is that unless and until we accept from the core of our heart that multi‑stakeholder approach is the only approach when it comes to any issue which is related to ICT and community, but when it comes to marginalized groups, in particular the disabled communities, I understand that unless and until everybody works together, there is no solution, and the problem with the countries' portfolio is one size does not really fit all.

So the problem is that we need localization, we need though understand the local context and then after that provide a solution.  And that's why we are trying to do our best in Afghanistan to find ways in order to resolve at least some of the problems with the help of ICT for these marginalized people, in particular the blind community of Afghanistan to help them out to improve their living standards.

I can tell you that with only Smart phones since I'm in regular contact with these girls, they tell me hundreds of stories that how much they are learning, how much their life have become easy, if they want directions or if they want to get information, unfortunately all of the websites are not blind friendly, however, those which are, it gives them a lot of information.  But still, like when it comes to the books, with he have got very few books.  We are lucky that we do have one of our languages that are similar to Islamic Republic of Iran, in Islamic Republic of Iran they have done some work so we use whatsoever knowledge they have recorded for the blind community, but overall, language is another problem because our other national language which is spoken by a majority of the population is Pashto and it's not spoken elsewhere where they have recorded those books in the form of digital.

So this is the challenge that we are having and what I can see is that if we get attention and we pay more attention towards these marginalized groups, I'm sure that with very small steps and with very minor contributions, we can bring a big change in the lives of these people.  Thank you very much.

>> GUNELA ASTBRINK:  Thank you very much, Dr. Azizi, there were so many important points in your presentation and we can reflect on that that one side doesn't fit all, that we have to work together, localization is very important.  We have heard other speakers about Universal Design, and around the Global South and issues there.  We have heard about standards and the importance of that in making sure that we have improved accessibility.

We only have a short time left because we have a short session of one hour.  So I would like to open the floor now to any comments about any other ways we can remove barriers and improve accessibility to education and employment.  So Mr. Abdoulaye Dembele, please.

>> ABDOULAYE DEMBELE:  (Speaking non-English language)

>> GUNELA ASTBRINK:  Thank you.  Yes, please go ahead.

>> AUDIENCE:  Good afternoon, my name is Harun Azim.  I am also from Afghanistan.  As Dr. Azizi said the number of disabled in Afghanistan is very high, though the Government has started working on how to get employment and get them educated, obviously there are much problems, but there are some steps that have been taken.  I wanted to maybe update everybody that Afghanistan has passed a law in which it says all of the Government institutions have to have 3% of their employment to disability, to people with disabilities, and Afghanistan telecommunication regulatory authority has started this work and we have hired for the moment 1.2 or 3% of our employment to disabilities.

As Dr. Azizi was Chairman, we could not be equal to everybody, so we have to give them chances based on equity.  So they had worked with us in short‑term programmes, but without taking any exams because we knew they could work and they could join the team, so based on the law, we just recruited them and now they are full‑time staff of Afghanistan Communication Regulatory Authority.

We have taken some steps, but I think it's also as everybody else mentioned like all of the stakeholders should work together.  Like if every Government institution in Afghanistan start doing at least this 3% thing, 3% of their employment, I think this could help.  And I think it's also a hint if the other Governments didn't do this, they could make a law.  Thank you.

>> GUNELA ASTBRINK:  Okay.  We have two more questions and comments, and then we need to wrap up.  So, please.

>> AUDIENCE:  Good afternoon.  I'm Hangro from Information Commission.  Just a cultures perspective on special people.  Culturally people who are born with special, we call it special people, but they are in the local language, they don't consider it special, they consider it weaknesses and the whole behavior history is needed there.  So if we are not doing anything from awareness or technology or providing some support as was said, we can do advocacy and awareness programmes to people who are not special, the us.  So we should do some awareness on that, and I hope in the Internet should be considered to educate our people how to behave and communicate with those people.  Thank you.

>> GUNELA ASTBRINK:  It's an excellent point about attitudinal issues.  We suddenly have a lot of speakers here towards the end., so, please, if you would be very fast.  Thank you.

>> AUDIENCE:  Yes, I have one question.  So I'm coming from an engineering point of view, I'm just interesting in knowing whether there is a one size fits all for websites to meet most needs or there are specific categories or a minimum baseline for websites that people building the sites need to know as a guide?

>> GUNELA ASTBRINK:  Thank you.  I think we have two more questions, one up the end, please Muhammad Shabbir Awan.

>> AUDIENCE:  For the record, I'm from Pakistan and I represent here the Internet Society Global Accessibility Special Interest Group.  With the moderator's permission, I would like to take a couple of minutes and I have a couple of points to make here.  One, I take exception to the earlier speaker's point of view.  Of course, we are a Democratic society here, and we have the right to have or to hold our opinions, but as a person with disability myself, I don't consider myself weak to someone else.  I don't consider my disability as harder to what I want to achieve in life.

And, third, it is the societal barrier which convert my impairment as a visual impairment into a disability.  So I would rather like to be recognized as a person who is with a disability than to be called special or weak or something like that.  Secondly, our friend from Afghanistan made very crucial points about education and employment.  One thing I would like to inform my friend from Afghanistan is that we also have something under Pakistan and Pashto is also spoken in one of our provinces so if there are some books and if we can coordinate, it would be a pleasure to assist them in that.

Thirdly, yes, there are some technical barriers, but most important of all, there are some policy barriers.  From the education point of view particularly, I would like to inform the audience about the initiative for impaired persons, and I'm not sure how many of you have heard about this wonderful treaty.  It's an international treaty for intellectual property rights organisation is the home for it.

And this treaty allows the provision of accessible books, if they are made in one country, transmission of those books, those materials to other countries who are signatories.

(Technical difficulties)

The areas where people with disabilities are increasing and words and bullets and bombs, they don't care for whom they are hitting or for whom they are making disabled or killing, but it's unfortunate that at the same time pellet guns are being used increasingly against protesters in different states, and this is concerning for me as it is making people blind.

So war is one thing, but using such cruel mechanisms against people or against protesters is really harsh.  Lastly, I'm sorry I have taken so much of the time, but lastly, there are, yes, barriers, but as a person with disability, it is the person who decides their fate. Society helps or sometimes hinders, but provided with the right conditions and right equipment, right aids and right education, person and people can do wonders.  Thank you very much.

>> Thank you.  One last extremely quick comment from the lady there, please.

>> AUDIENCE:  Hello, my name is margarita.  I am an educator, and I run global competence online project for kids from 9 to 14 years old.  So with my comment, I would like to represent educators and why I would like to do that is because in education and especially for kids who will be the future generations and should be here in this room as well, there are not enough, there is not enough awareness first of all about inclusiveness.  There are not enough materials on this topic of inclusiveness or disabilities, so what happens in the end is educators as well as kids as a result, the students see people with disabilities as first a disability and then as people.

So this is where it's already wrong because they don't know how to behave.  They don't know how to communicate with people with disabilities.  So there should be a global framework or some kind of guidance for educators around the world on this topic on how to educate it, how to implement it into curriculums already existing because we know it's not really possible to take and change a curriculum so how to inject this topic in the existing curriculums in the world.

I know with my own example that there are just very few accessible examples online about how people with disabilities contribute to education world or to accessible spaces for education even if you take badminton game and there is Rodriguez Mendez from Brazil who has been doing a great job in informing people about his work in education.  So he goes to schools and makes schools more accessible, but apart from that there is nothing really out there.

So I would like to request all participants here to think about this topic as well, because the more we reach educators, the more people we can reach by default and future generations specifically.  Thank you.

>> MODERATOR:  Thank you very much.  That's very important.  I think there was a question that was asked, I'm sorry, I didn't get your name, gentleman.  Nankofy had asked about the website whether one fits all size that was your question.  I will give it to very well known in this field, in this area.  Shabbi, would you like to say something about that?

>> AUDIENCE:  Yes, thank you very much for this opportunity.

I will make it very quick, my name is Shabbir Awan, I work for the Worldwide Web Consortium, we develop web standards and one of the well-known standards for accessibility is called the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.  It's adopted internationally by Governments and organisations from around the world.  In many countries it is adopted by policies.  In Germany, here, for example, in Europe, the U.S., in many countries around the world, so I would encourage you to look at that.  I would be very happy to follow up.  In respect to one size fits all, having a standard does not mean one size fits all.  It means applying common standards, common baselines.  We have in IT the great thing that content can adapt according to user needs.  This is particularly important for people with cognitive and learning disabilities.  This was mentioned before, and also just reflecting on the comment earlier involving users, I think this is really, really important.  I think this is a great point that was raised by the panel earlier, but one of the issues is not only involving people with disabilities in the process, but we have all of these IT people being educated without being given the capacities or the skills for accessibility.

So I think we need to also not only make education accessible, but include accessibility in the education as well.  Thank you.

>> MODERATOR:  Thank you very much, Shabbi.  Anything about websites, Shabbi is your guy.  He is always on my case about that.  I would like to give this opportunity to the panelists to just give a closing remark before we close.  Thank you.  Manhique, would you like to begin?

>> JORGE MANHIQUE:  Thank you.  Just a couple of things, and really just to add on really great inputs that came out from this session.  So one, I think, is to conduct more research, especially on the Global South to understand, I mean, the social and cultural factors that can act as a barrier.  And then be able to come up with a plan on how to address those barriers.  I think that's really important.

The second thing is a little bit of data on persons with disabilities.  We tend to say there are many people with disabilities, but we in the Global South it's really difficult to disaggregate who are those people with disabilities.  How many women and children with which time of disabilities, we don't have that data.

And the method that is still used in the census and so on, they don't allow to be able to produce that kind of disaggregated data.  So we need to invest a lot in that.  The third thing is standards.  Yes, they are really important, but let's think about other types of policies is that we can target that can support accessibility.  I'm talking about social protection policies, for example, on how social protection policies target specifically the needs of persons with disabilities can enable those people with disabilities, for example, to acquire assistive devices which are important then to be able to enjoy the Internet and technology, et cetera.

So I will stop here.

>> MODERATOR:  Thank you very much.  Peter.

>> PETER CROSBIE:I will pick up on this that Jorge said, not only do we not know, we don't realize how many people are affected by disabilities especially in terms of cognitive disabilities.  The majority of people who are autistic, who are dyslexic, have attention disorders do not have diagnosis and don't know that they are concerned.  We have to start designing for a very, very substantial population.  That needs to be incorporated from the beginning and also Shabbi made a great point about educators.  We need to get into the education system and train people like designers and so on need to understand what accessibility is because at the moment, to be frank, it's a dirty word.  It's an obligation.

It's something that's imposed on them.  We need to change that mindset.  We talk in the autistic community about a paradigm shift.  That's what we really need.  We need a shift in culture around disability and around access so that people just see it as something that we just do.  We shouldn't even have a word for disability access.  It should just be what we do.  Thank you.

>> MODERATOR:  Thank you, Peter that's very important.  Thank you.  Ann.

>> ANN IGELTJORN:  I want to continue on that and say that the inclusion of the guidelines and standards WCAG should not be if it is included it should be included.  In Norway we have to make sure that everything is Universal Design by 1st January 2021 so we know that all of the pages are accessible for everyone.  There is also a growing elderly population, so even if you are not a person with a disability now, you might have one in the future.

And what if you suddenly are creating a product that isn't Universal Design.  Maybe you one day will need that same usability features that are created with the WCAG so that content is accessible for all.  So I think that making sure that this isn't a question, but this is having WCAG from the get-go will create a more inclusive society on the digital side.

>> MODERATOR:  Thank you very much.  That reminds me something I said in the West African IGF that I don't think we should be using the word inclusion when it comes to persons with disabilities because we are already part of it, so why should we be included.  We are in it.  I would like to give this opportunity to Abdoulaye, a closing remark.

>> ABDOULAYE DEMBELE:  (Speaking non-English language)

>> MODERATOR:  Thank you very much, Abdoulaye.  Judith, do you have anything to say?  Nothing from remote?  Okay.  Thank you very much, everyone, I know it was a very short time, but I hope that we have been able to learn something from what we have shared with one another.

When it comes to persons with disabilities, for the longest time they have been excluded when it comes to decision making, even when it comes to employment, and eastbound when it comes to education.  And one of the examples that I like using is that once upon a time when I went to, when I applied for a job, and my papers were very good, I must say.  But getting to the place of the interview was quite a challenge because the physical infrastructure wasn't accessible.  And so I had to get a lot of help though get to the interview room.

And, of course, you can imagine when the judges are looking at you and they are looking at this person who has been carried forward, then from then they have already made up their mind whether they are going to give you that job or not.  So it is very important from onset whether it comes to physical infrastructure to consider accessibility, when it comes to the online content, let's remember when we talk about public, it's also includes the person with disability.

So if your website, if your content online cannot be readable by everyone, then that's definitely discriminating on a certain percentage of people which we need to look into before we start putting out placards of our rights.

Thank you very much, and we hope that this conversation can continue forward.

I would like to thank the DCAD IGFSA for allowing us to be here, and thank you also the IGF Secretariat for allowing us to have this session.

Thank you, and we hope to see you tomorrow in our DCAD session in 11:30 at Room Saal B.  Welcome.

>> GUNELA ASTBRINK:  I just have a commercial, thank you very much, Judy for that excellent summary.  Anyone who would like to continue the conversation online, we have the Dynamic Coalition on Accessibility and Disability, and you may join our mailing list for that.  And you heard previously from Muhammad shade did who is the President of the ISOC accessibility SIG and that is quite a new special interest group, so you have the opportunity of going to join that as well.  And you can find the information online A11YSIG.org.  And looking forward to more communication online.  Thank you very much.