IGF 2021 WS #33 Empowering Persons with Disabilities - Accessible Technology

Time
Friday, 10th December, 2021 (12:45 UTC) - Friday, 10th December, 2021 (13:45 UTC)
Room
Conference Room 1+2

Organizer 1: Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Organizer 2: Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Speaker 1: Gunela Astbrink, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Jorge Manhique, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Tim Unwin, Intergovernmental Organization, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Format

Round Table - Circle - 60 Min

Policy Question(s)

Promoting equitable development and preventing harm: How can we make use of digital technologies to promote more equitable and peaceful societies that are inclusive, resilient and sustainable? How can we make sure that digital technologies are not developed and used for harmful purposes? What values and norms should guide the development and use of technologies to enable this?

Improving the ability of those with disabilities to use and enjoy the internet is core to the theme of social inclusion and promoting equitable development. The panel intends to address the challenges and opportunities of making digital accessibility tools more equitable by diving into the following questions:

i. How can universal design principles for accessibility be advanced across the internet to improve the experience of those with disabilities? ii. What uses of ICTs are enabled by the Internet today for the empowerment of persons with disabilities? What is coming down the pipeline? iii. 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? iv. 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?

SDGs

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

Targets: Improving the ability of those with disabilities to use and enjoy the internet is core to the theme of social 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 80 percent of persons with disabilities living 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.

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, improvements in medical diagnostics, the rise in chronic conditions and ageing of populations, and 80 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. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and requirements to socially isolate still in place in many jurisdictions, people with disabilities rely on ICTs to connect more than ever.

Yet, 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 (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; (2) a survey of the pandemic's influence on ICT development and usership; and(3) internet governance-related calls to action to the IGF community to advance accessibility for persons with disabilities.

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 can 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.

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

Usage of IGF Official Tool. Additional Tools proposed: 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 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.

Key Takeaways (* deadline 2 hours after session)

-Affordability of accessible ICT products, especially those on the cutting edge, remains a major impediment to uptake. This is especially true in the Global South, where even basic internet access remains a challenge.

-Governments in particular need to reconsider how the terms "disability" and "empowerment" are defined in order to restructure power relationships.

Call to Action (* deadline 2 hours after session)

-Advocates should look to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to forge international cooperation on minimum standards for disability access in ICT products that can be applied globally.