IGF 2020 WS #255 Digital (In)accessibility and Universal Design

Time
Friday, 13th November, 2020 (09:40 UTC) - Friday, 13th November, 2020 (11:10 UTC)
Room
Room 2
About this Session
A large majority of Persons with Disabilities globally are excluded from reaping “digital dividends” because most digital technologies are, by their design, not accessible to them. Today, more and more aspects of political, social and economic life are being shifted to the online sphere where the societal exclusion of PWD is amplified. At the same time there is evidence that not only persons with disabilities, but everyone could benefit if ICTs were designed inclusively.
Thematic Track

Organizer 1: Paul Horsters, German Corporation for International Cooperation GmbH (GIZ)
Organizer 2: Wairagala Wakabi, Collaboration on International ICT policy for East & Southern Africa (CIPESA)
Organizer 3: Tim Unwin, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

Speaker 1: Wairagala Wakabi, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 2: Tim Unwin, Intergovernmental Organization, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Bernard Chiira, Technical Community, African Group
Speaker 4: Judith Ann Okite, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 5: Claire Sibthorpe, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Additional Speakers

Judith Ann Okite (judyokite_1428) will not be able to attend. (needs to ber removed from the session)

Irene Mbari-Kirika (irene_23831) will be participating instead as a speaker (needs to be added to the session!)

Bernd Schramm (Bernd Schramm) will be participating for a short introduction as a speaker. (needs to be added to the session!)

Edith Kimani (edith.kimani_23626) will take over the role of the main moderator. (needs to be added to the session!).

Paul Horsters (paul.horsters_19877) will be the assisting/second moderator, facilitating the collection of the questions from the Q&A as well as the chat. (listed as organizer and rapporteur)

 

Moderator

Tim Unwin, Intergovernmental Organization, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Online Moderator

Paul Horsters, Government, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Rapporteur

Paul Horsters, Government, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Format

Debate - Auditorium - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)

3) Accessibility & Policy for Social Inclusion What is the current situation (policy, implementation, practice) of ICT accessibility in Low- and Middle-income countries (LMIC) and what could be arguments for and actions of different stakeholders to promote Universal Design and digital inclusion of people with disabilities?

Issues ● Digital Accessibility ● Universal Design Challenges ● Exclusion of Persons with Disabilities through inaccessibility of ICT. Specific focus on LMIC. ● Amplification of social inequalities for PWD through digital transformations ● Affordability and Availability of Accessibility-features ● Lack of implementation of accessibility policies Opportunities ● Business Case for Universal Design (User-friendliness, Wider customer base) ● Potentials of ICT for Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities

SDGs

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

Description:

A large majority of Persons with Disabilities globally are excluded from reaping “digital dividends” because most digital technologies are, by their design, not accessible to them. Today, more and more aspects of political, social and economic life are being shifted to the online sphere where the societal exclusion of PWD is amplified. At the same time there is evidence that not only persons with disabilities, but everyone could benefit if ICTs were designed inclusively. Universal Design – designing ICTs to be usable for all from the start – improves the user-friendliness for everyone and widens the customer base. Still, inaccessibility is often times “built-in” and accessibility features are added as expensive “after-the-fact” solutions. This workshop will bring together a diverse set of stakeholders – development cooperation, civil society, the private sector and academia mainly from East Africa and Western Europe to discuss two main aspects. First, the speakers will discuss the state of the art of digital accessibility with a special focus on Low- and Middle-income countries (LMIC). Second, systemic barriers to accessibility will be illuminated, in order to develop concrete recommendations for implementation of accessibility policies by governments, development cooperation and the private sector in order to increase the accessibility of ICT and thus improving usability for communities who currently by and large excluded from digital development.

Expected Outcomes

The intent is to live stream and record the session and share it via social media and other channels. The policy recommendations for the respective stakeholders will be shared through networks of International and German development cooperation as well as through civil society and private sector networks. This will create visibility of disability rights and the need for universal design, and provide evidence for onward advocacy for universal design and accessibility to information and ICT for persons with disabilities.

Discussion Facilitation:

  1. Introduction to the subject / Introduction of speakers (moderator) (10 Minutes)
  2. Welcoming Speech by Dr. Bernd Schramm (GIZ) (5 Minutes)
  3. Vote by the audience (5 Minutes)
  4. Questions block to the speakers
  5. Q & A Session including question for the audience (45 Minutes)

Relevance to Internet Governance: The Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD) is one of the most ratified UN-Conventions in history. However, commitments in terms of improving ICT accessibility have often times not been followed by concrete action. A collaborative effort of stakeholders seems necessary to reshape the understanding of inclusion of people with disabilities and their needs in ICT design and thus improving usability and the leverage of “digital dividends” for everyone through joint action.

Relevance to Theme: Accessibility and Universal Design is directly linked to the amplification of inequality and disadvantage of Persons with Disabilities through digital transformations. In order to leverage potentials of ICT for social inclusion, ways have to be identified to increase accessibility and beneficial usage by marginalized groups including people with disabilities.

Online Participation

Usage of IGF Official Tools including poll in Zoom conference. 

 

Agenda

1. Welcoming the participants and introduction of speakers

2. Introductory remarks: "Why Universal Design is a driving force for digital innovation"  by Dr. Bernd Schramm, GIZ Head of Global Project Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities.

3. Barriers to Digital Inclusion (Audience, Panelists)

4. ICT4Inclusion and Inclusion4ICT

5. Tech-start up support to drive inclusive digital innovations

6. Obstacles and Incentives for the private sector

7. Policies, Regulations and Responsibilities

8. Q & A

 

1. Key Policy Questions and related issues
What is the current situation (policy, implementation, practice) of ICT accessibility in Low- and Middle-income countries (LMIC)?
What could be arguments for and actions of different stakeholders to promote Universal Design and digital inclusion of people with disabilities?
2. Summary of Issues Discussed

Areas of broad support/agreement:

  • Designing ICT inclusively from the start following the principles of Universal Design will ultimately benefit everyone through increased usability/user-friendliness.
  • Including persons with disabilities and other marginalized groups in digital development efforts is vital for reaching the SDGs.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated digital exclusion and underscored the need to develop inclusive solutions.
  • A lack of awareness about accessibility and its social and business benefits is regarded as a major obstacle in all stakeholder groups: governments, private actors, civil society organizations. Among persons with disabilities there is a lack of awareness about accessibility features and insufficient skills for their usage.
  •  A lack of disaggregated data about persons with disabilities, also with regard to ICT challenges and opportunities creates an enormous challenge for designing and implementing policies. Better data could also be an incentive for the private sector.
  • Cognitive disabilities are to be treated differently with regard to accessibility. Care-givers or family members should be involved to identify their needs.
  • Perspective on digtial accessibility needs to change: Shifting away from a perception of an extra effort and special intervention. Normalizing inclusive design for all should be the goal.

Areas of no agreement/areas needing further discussion and development

  • What role does innovation play for digital inclusion of persons wiht disabilities? Differing perspectives: Innovation alone does not solve crucial matters of social exclusion, but can be a valuable approach for convincing the private sector.
  • What means accessibility for persons with different types of disabilities?
3. Key Takeaways

A lack of awareness about accessibility and its social and business benefits is regarded as a major obstacle in all stakeholder groups: governments, private actors, civil society organizations. Among persons with disabilities there is a lack of awareness about accessibility features and insufficient skills for their usage. Including persons with disabilities and other marginalized groups in digital development efforts is vital for reaching the SDGs. The perception of governments, private actors and international organizations on disability in tech needs to change: designing ICT inclusively from the start following the principles of Universal Design will ultimately benefit everyone through increased usability/user-friendliness.  Governments have often times committed themselves to accessibility of ICT through signing and ratifying the Convention on the Rights for Persons with Disabilities, but implementation is lacking. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated digital exclusion and underscored the need to develop inclusive solutions.

6. Final Speakers

Moderator 1: Edith Kimani, Media & Journalist

Moderator 2: Paul Horsters, Second facilitator

Speaker 1: Wairagala Wakabi, Civil Society, African Group

Speaker 2: Tim Unwin, Intergovernmental Organization, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Speaker 3: Bernard Chiira, Technical Community, African Group

Speaker 4:  Irene Mbari-Kirika, Civil Society, African Group

Speaker 5: Claire Sibthorpe, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Speaker 6: Dr. Bernd Schramm Head of GIZ Global Project Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities commissioned by the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Short welcoming speech.

7. Reflection to Gender Issues

3 of the 6 panelists are women. Tim Unwins engagement for changing mens perception about women in tech was mentioned, apart from this gender issues were not discussed.

8. Session Outputs

Kindly find this under 2) and 3)