IGF 2021 DCAD Challenges & Opportunities for PWDs in a Post Covid World

Tuesday, 7th December, 2021 (12:45 UTC) - Tuesday, 7th December, 2021 (13:45 UTC)
Hall A3

Dynamic Coalition on Accessibility and Disability

Round Table - Circle - 60 Min


Defining universal and meaningful access: What are the key elements that constitute universal and meaningful Internet access? How can it be measured? How is the concept evolving in time and what does this evolution mean for policy?


This session will provide an overview of the DCAD work during the year and a look forward to next year. We will look at some of the challenges for people with disabilities in working in a virtual environment and also some of the successes and how we can build on these successes as we move back into more in-person interaction. Our focus will be on mainstreaming accessibility for future generations. We will also have a review of some of the new changes to the WC3 Accessibility Guidelines and the impact these changes will have on making the web more accessible.

The session will be in the form of a round table where the moderator will set the scene and each panelist will discuss their issue. The will be the opportunity for Q&A after each segment and also a chance to hear from our audience of what programs and activities they would like to see going forward.

We plan to use PowerPoint and also possibly a whiteboard to map out the programs suggested by the panelists going forward. We will have an onsite and zoom moderator so that no one group will feel left out and will be able to engage and ask their questions. We will also have sign language and captioning so that everyone can get engaged in the discussions.


Lidia Best, WEOG Peter Crosbie, DCAD co-Coordinator, WEOG Judith Hellerstein, Accessibility SIG, and DCAD Co-Coordinator, WEOG Muhammad Shabbir, ISOC Board Member, Asia Pacific Gunela Astbrink, IGF Mag and ISOC Accessibility SIG, VP, Asia Pacific


Muhammad Shabbir Awan, ISOC Board Member, Asia Pacific, Judy OKite, Africa, Gerry Ellis, WEOG,  Lidia Best, Chair of National Association of Deafened People, WEOG,  Gunela Astbrink, IGF Mag Member and ISOC Accessibility SIG VP

Onsite Moderator

Judith Hellerstein

Online Moderator

Gunela Astbrink


Peter Crosbie


4. Quality Education
8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
10. Reduced Inequalities
11. Sustainable Cities and Communities

Targets: Goal 4 – Quality Education: Guaranteeing equal and accessible education by building inclusive learning environments and providing the needed assistance for persons with disabilities.

Goal 8 – Employment: Promoting inclusive economic growth, full and productive employment allowing persons with disabilities to fully access the job market.

Goal 10 – Social, political, and economic inclusion: Emphasizing the social, economic, and political inclusion of persons with disabilities.

Goal 11 – Transport: Creating accessible cities and water resources, affordable, accessible, and sustainable transport systems, providing universal access to safe, inclusive, accessible, and green public spaces.

Key Takeaways (* deadline 2 hours after session)

The need for meaningful of involvement of person with disabilities at all levels of IT organisations
The need for PWD to be involved in planning, implementation and evaluation of IT projects to assure accessibility.
The need for accessibility measures to be developed and implemented in countries outside of the Global North and in non English-speaking cultures

The need for digital accessibility to be recognised as a fundamental right and a necessity, regardless of the experience of individuals who may or may not be directly impacted
Speakers and participants recognised that existing digital accessibility barriers have been exacerbated by the increased reliance on online technologies during and post Covid.

Call to Action (* deadline 2 hours after session)

Work with IGF and other stakeholders, Dynamic Coalitions, Best Practice Forums and Policy Networks on web and content accessibility as well as accessibility issues with PowerPoint, documents and other tools The national coordinators to add in their advertisement for their National/ Regional/ Youth events the accessibility features that they plan to have in place and secondly, to add this feature to their IGF reports. Ensure that all sites and d

Call for the IGF and related entities to recognise and abide by the UN Disability Inclusion Strategy as recommended in its 2021 report. This includes: Embedding disability inclusion in strategic plans and establishing institutional ownership. Building the knowledge and capacities of staff on disability inclusion. Improving physical and digital accessibility. Supporting meaningful participation of persons with disabilities and

Session Report (* deadline 26 October) - click on the ? symbol for instructions

DCAD Challenges & Opportunities for PWDs in a Post Covid World

Rapport IGF 2021

Moderator: Judith Hellerstein

Rapporteur: Peter Crosbie

Judith Introduced the session, the role of DCAD and the speakers.

Gunela Asbrink spoke of the need for accessibility to be included from the ground up, that people with disabilities need to be included at all levels of organisations, including leadership where a disability champion at senior levels makes a real difference. Gunela reinforced that it essential that  websites and documents are accessible and that staff understand accessibility requirements. She referenced the UN Disability Inclusion Strategy which discusses embedding disability inclusion and plans, establishing institutional ownership, building the knowledge and capacities of staff of disability inclusion, improving digital accessibility, and supporting the meaningful participation of persons with disabilities and their representative organisations.

Gunela also spoke of her experience on the MAG and of her recommendations. Firstly, there should be a comprehensive accessibility evaluation of the IGF website and possible remediation based on that evaluation and that evaluation should be undertaken by persons with disabilities. Secondly, of the need for training for members of the IGF community in making web content accessible to ensure that accessible websites and documents remain accessible. And thirdly new online tools need to be developed by companies that have documented experience in accessibility and are staffed by people with disabilities in order to test the tools. This requirement could be part of procurement documentation. There are already guidelines that could be used as a reference, such as section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act, and the European standard for ICT products and services (EN 301 549).

Muhammad Shabbir also spoke of the need for people with disabilities to be included in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of all digital projects. In the context of IGF, he pointed out that while accessibility and participation have been improved at the national level for some countries, there are still many countries, particularly in Asia and Latin America, where it is lacking. He spoke of the workaround accessibility that has been undertaken by the United Nations, ICANN, and similar organisations, but commented that this work needs to be structured from bottom-to-top and top-to-bottom and applied at all policy and implementation levels. He gave the example of the Internet Society, where he has become the first elected member of the board of trustees of the Internet Society to have any lived experience of disability in spite of the fact that ISOC has a number of accessibility programs and initiatives for PWD. In other words, while ventures are starting to be put in place, what’s lacking in Internet governance discussions is the actual participation of people with disabilities.

Muhammad then made the observation that there tends to be less participation of PWD in discussions on Internet Governance. Regardless of the reasons, people with lived experiences of disability need to be proactive and included in these discussions.

Finally, Muhammad reinforced the need for PWD to be included at the leadership level and repeated Gunela’s point for the need for a disability champion. He pointed out that while the Secretary-General started an inclusion initiative in 2019, there is no one with a disability on that panel.

Muhammad concluded by reinforcing the need for digital accessibility for people with disabilities, pointing out that whether a disability is temporary or permanent, many of us will at some stage need accessibility requirements. We can ensure that these requirements are put in place if there is a will and desire to do so.

Lidia Best also reinforced the need for PWD in leadership, and spoke of the need for a greater understanding of disability needs, especially in digital and online meetings. She commented that in Poland and other countries there’s still a lack of accessibility and lack of understanding of the need for additional support such as assistive listening devices and captioning. Improving this situation, even at a basic level, still faces resistance. Lidia gave the example of public announcements regarding Covid, where live captioning was not provided.

Lidia also spoke of how this lack of accessibility has an impact on those who speak minority languages where available access technology and approaches are not always implemented, which means that these populations are excluded from participation. She highlighted that even though the IGF conference was held in Poland, captioning was only available in English, excluding many disabled Polish speakers. This lack of support for speakers of minority languages extends to published material. For example, while there are guidelines on accessible meetings, these are often only available in English or the majority languages.

Judy Okite addressed difficulties that arise within the disability community itself, where there can be a lack of understanding of accessibility in a broader sense. This can extend to a lack of support for accessibility measures that are outside of those that a particular individual or group requires, and through that, to a lack of consensus. Judy spoke of the difficulty of bringing people outside of the disability community on board when the disability community itself is fragmented on just what accessibility means. Judy concluded by highlighting the need for advocating for accessibility on a local and regional level, not just at a national level.

In follow-up discussions, Muhammad Shabbir spoke of his work with the Internet Society (ISOC) where he is a member of the board, and where he has been focusing on raising awareness around the need for accessibility. This has involved working to overcome an inbuilt organisational cultural mindset that tends to see accessibility as an optional added extra rather than a fundamental necessity, He highlighted the success he has had in ensuring that ISOC board meetings are now captioned.

Peter Crosbie highlighted the importance of including accessibility measures for people with cognitive disabilities, especially in a post-Covid world where there has been an increase in online and virtual meetings, classes, and presentations. He also highlighted that there are more children with cognitive disabilities than all other disabilities combined and that these children are being disproportionately excluded through a failure to adequately apply digital and online accessibility measures.

The Bangladeshi chapter also highlighted difficulties with accessing health and education services when online and digital accessibility measures are not implemented, which is resulting in people not being able to access these services.

In winding up, Judith Hellerstein also pointed out the importance of Chat in online discussions for people with disabilities, and the necessity for it to be included in official records and transcriptions.