IGF 2023 WS #350 Accessible e-learning experience for PWDs-Best Practices

Tuesday, 10th October, 2023 (00:45 UTC) - Tuesday, 10th October, 2023 (01:45 UTC)
WS 4 – Room B-1

Digital Divides & Inclusion
Digital, Media, and Information Literacy

Organizer 1: Swaran Ravindra, 🔒Fiji National University
Organizer 2: Zakari Yama, ISOC - Accessibility Standing Group (ASG)

Speaker 1: Christopher Lee, Intergovernmental Organization, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Vashkar Bhattacharjee, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 3: Jacqueline Huggins, Government, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)

Additional Speakers

Swaran Ravindra, Intergovernmental Organization, Asia-Pacific Group

Online Moderator

Zakari Yama, Civil Society, African Group


Zakari Yama, Civil Society, African Group


Panel - 60 Min

Policy Question(s)

i. Are current legislation and national policies currently inclusive of the digital rights of PWDs? ii. Can the universal design principles for accessibility be seamlessly adapted across the global internet to improve the inclusion of PWDs in efforts to create a successful online learning experience? iii. What can the IGF community do to encourage collaboration across the globe to make e-learning more accessible for PWDs?

What will participants gain from attending this session? The selected thematic track we have chosen is "Digital Divides and Inclusion". Our proposed session aims to highlight some of the pressing challenges pertaining to technology and accessibility that persons with disabilities face when accessing online content on major e-learning platforms. It also discusses some of the supportive legislative frameworks and strategies for adaption to assist the academic, private sector, and government institutes to be more inclusive when creating online platforms, across the regions which the panel members represent. It aims to assist participants to learn from some known methods that stem from the speakers' personal and professional experiences which could be benchmarked and adapted to the respective economies to enable inclusive online learning platforms for persons with disabilities.


Globally, eLearning has proven to be revolutionary during times of crisis. However, it is vital to consider that there are still 16% of people around the world who are digitally excluded due to their disabilities; moreover, this statistic is projected to increase due to compounding factors such as aging and disease. While there are strong national legislations for Persons with Disabilities in some parts of the world, they may not suffice the needs of PWDs due to the current barriers and gaps they face in digital inclusion. Some regions like the Asia Pacific (eg. Bangladesh) have seen a wave of improvement in inclusion, while many persons with disabilities continue to face daily challenges in their e-learning experiences. Interestingly, this predicament is not always limited to geographic locations or the strength of the economy. This session focuses on how we as the ISOC-Accessibility Standing Group together with the global Internet governance community can work together to create an accessible learning environment to train and employ more people with disabilities worldwide.

Expected Outcomes

i. Identification and gap assessment of legislation and national policies which could be amended to include PWDs. ii. Methods of deploying the universal design principles for accessibility across the relevant stakeholders of the global internet to improve the inclusion of PWDs in efforts to create a successful online learning experience. iii. Affirmative action and commitment from the IGF community to encourage collaboration across the globe to make e-learning more accessible for PWDs. iv. Proposed scholarly/newspaper/technical blog articles on best practices for inclusive e-learning experiences for PWDs. v. ISOC-Accessibility Standing Group can further develop and train global policymakers, ISOC chapter leaders, the greater IGF community members, academia, civil society, technical community, and interested members of the public on how to make online learning experience inclusive for PWDs

Hybrid Format: There are 2 moderators. One will facilitate on-site questions while the 2nd moderator will actively engage the online participants in questions, comments, and answers. Complementary online tool: Mentimeter to encourage active participation while managing time. If selected, the session will be widely marketed across global IGF and ISOC platforms to ensure maximum online participation as well as on-site participation. This will ensure that we are capturing the voices of multitudes of people who are PWDs as well as stakeholders who could be the catalyst of change

Key Takeaways (* deadline 2 hours after session)

Vidhya: born blind, highlights the importance of access for persons with disabilities. Exposes the eLearning challenges faced by PWDs: - design not accessible for persons without sight , PDF not legible, downloading challenges due to inaccessible tags/links on websites, lack of digital literacy. She calls on educational institutions for interventions such as assistive technologies.

Call to Action (* deadline 2 hours after session)

Universal design will allow any student to learn with equitable experience of access to knowledge. But challenges exist: the high cost of UD learning platforms, the mindset of the old academic staff, some institutions look UD as a solution for PWDs only (they consider it a nice to have). While UD and accessibility are beneficial for everyone. Actions can be taken: negotiation, meeting to explain and raise awareness on e-learning challenges of PWD