IGF 2021 WS #99
Pandemic and deafened / hard of hearing people

Organizer 1: Lidia Best, National Association of Deafened People ( NADP)
Organizer 2: Paulina Lewandowska, Association of Hard of Hearing People and CI users- SUITA and International Federation of Hard of Hearing Young People (IFHOHYP)

Speaker 1: Masahito Kawamori, Technical Community, Intergovernmental Organization
Speaker 2: Lidia Best, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Andrea Saks, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 4: Paulina Lewandowska, Civil Society, Eastern European Group
Speaker 5: Dušan Caf, Private Sector, Eastern European Group


Paulina Lewandowska, Civil Society, Eastern European Group

Online Moderator

Andrea Saks, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Lidia Best, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Round Table - U-shape - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)

Social inequality and the pandemic: What can be learned from the COVID-19 pandemic context about the relationship between digital inequality and social and economic inequality? Similarly, what lessons can be drawn with respect to the pandemic and Internet-related human rights? What does this suggest about policy approaches for digitalisation and digital inclusion?
Inclusion, rights and stakeholder roles and responsibilities: What are/should be the responsibilities of governments, businesses, the technical community, civil society, the academic and research sector and community-based actors with regard to digital inclusion and respect for human rights, and what is needed for them to fulfil these in an efficient and effective manner?

The workshop will be around specific issues that people with hearing loss, older people with age related hearing loss, people with sensory conditions and young people in education face.
Cross cutting the issues of inclusion, including access to health,education, banking and local government services.
The session will provide participants with actionable solutions and resources.


3. Good Health and Well-Being
4. Quality Education
8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
10. Reduced Inequalities

Targets: All the areas of SDGs are interlinked with reducing inequality for deaf and hard of hearing people worldwide. With accessible telehealth deaf and hard of hearing people will have increased good health and well being, particularly their mental health issues brought by lack of communication access.
Quality education is interlinked with accessible training, materials with captioning and access to languages.
Many persons who are deaf or hard of hearing are not treated equally when it comes to employment,mainly due to inaccessible workplaces and telecommunications.
Finally, while improvements have been noted with access to captioning with online platforms, the implementation of accessibility features still leaves users and organisers struggling with user experience and barriers are existing due to lack of planning during design stages.


As a result of the global lockdown due to the COVID19 pandemic, all essential
services have migrated to virtual platforms and remote participation methods for
education, businesses, emergency or health services. Much of those services were
often impossible to access for deaf and hard of hearing people. This lack
of accessible digital platforms meant that many could not access the guidelines
around the world to help protect themselves and their families and found themselves unable to request help when needed.

Digital Exclusion due to lack of digital accessibility accommodation equals to a form of discrimination as per the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) ratified by 181 countries.
While digital accessibility solutions exist, they should be utilized and where they do not, efforts should be made to develop them. Beyond the COVID1 9 Pandemic, in the future these solutions should be implemented on a global basis and be standardized and interoperable.
This session will examine with the audience the most prevalent forms of digital exclusion that deaf and hard of hearing people faced during the pandemic and the solutions for accessible remote participation.
Many of the issues experienced have also affected other persons with sensory disabilities.

Expected Outcomes

The organisers wish to rise the awareness of hearing loss and deafness and how digital discrimination affects this particular group of Persons with Disabilities.

Present solutions which can be implemented within local and national levels.
Share good practice on inclusion and participation of persons with hearing loss in planning and implementation of solutions aimed at persons who are deaf/ hard of hearing and those with sensory disabilities.

Publish guidance oh hearing and deaf access with lessons learned during pandemic,solutions and their implementation.

Organisers have working knowledge of running hybrid and online meetings. Lidia Best participates and organised events at International Telecommunication Union together with Andrea Saks, chairman of JCA-AHF who is also an author of the ITU Technical Paper - FSTP-ACC-RemPart - Guidelines for supporting remote participation in meetings for all.

Organisers will have moderator ( Polish participant) for onsite moderation and will have online moderator working together with online pannelists. We will ask speakers to record their presentations ahead of the event, which will allow for better control of the allocated speakers slot and allow for better interaction with audience during Q&A session.

Online Participation

Usage of IGF Official Tool.