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IGF 2020 – Day 10 – WS255 Digital (In)accessibility and Universal Design

The following are the outputs of the real-time captioning taken during the virtual Fifteenth Annual Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), from 2 to 17 November 2020. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the event, but should not be treated as an authoritative record. 

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   >> EDITH KIMANI:  Okay.  Well then I think it is time to begin.  Ladies and Gentlemen, good morning, good afternoon, or even good evening from wherever you are joining us from.  Welcome to this session at the Internet Governance.  My name is Edith Kimani.  I am a journalist and I'm joining you from Nairobi and together with our sign language interpreter we will be taking you through this session.  A large majority of Persons with Disabilities globally are excluded from reaping digital dividends because most digital technologies are by design not accessible to them.  Today more and more aspects of political and social economic life are being shifted to the online sphere.  And this virtual conference is one of the best examples of how that is happening.  And yet it is unfortunate that now more than ever and because of this digital shift the societal exclusion of Persons with Disabilities is amplified. 

At the same time there is evidence that not only Persons with Disabilities but really everyone could benefit if ICTs were designed inclusively.  And so during this workshop we will be looking at a diverse set of stakeholders, including you, you as participants mainly in East Africa and Western Europe.  And we will be discussing two main aspects.  The first is the state of the art of digital accessibility.  And then we will hear about systemic barriers to accessibility.  Our main objective here and I would like you to remember this is to develop concrete recommendations for implementation of accessibility policies.  And so in short we are here to see how we can improve usability for communities who are currently by and large excluded from digital development. 

I would like to take a moment to thank the people who organized this session.  It has been supported by German Corporation for International Cooperation and they are doing this on behalf of the German industry for economic cooperation for development.  This, of course, would not be much of an inclusive session if we didn't do our best to include everyone.  There is a live transcription available for this session.  You can simply access it by pressing the closed caption tab on your device.  It is available in various languages.  So feel free to look at it at any one point.  We will also be taking questions and/or statements from the audience later on in this program.  And to participate you can simply send us a message on chat or you can raise your hand on the chat and our online Moderator will bring your contribution to my attention.  And then we will be able to share it with the rest of you. 

So now I would like to introduce the esteemed panel who will be speaking at this workshop.  We will be hearing later from Irene Mbari‑Kirika, founder and executive director of inABLE.  InABLE is an NGO that empowers the blind.  And it is no wonder that she's recognized as a dynamic global strategic leader and executive level innovator.  Welcome, Irene. 

We will be hearing from Tim Unwin.  He is the cofounder of Techwin and UNESCO Chair holder at ICT4D.  Committed to excellence in the use of ICTs for development.  He is also a really great writer on the use of technology and development practices.  And we will be hearing quotes from him later when he speaks. 

Bernard Chiira, AMREF Health, partnership with global disability and innovation hub, Innovate Now.  Innovate Now is part of the project AT2030.  It is life‑changing assistive technology for all.  And I can't wait to hear from him. 

We will also hear from Claire Sibthorpe.  She is the head of GSMA and works with mobile operators and their partners to address the barriers to women accessing and using mobile Internet and mobile money services.  She does have about 20 years under her belt with public, private and international development organizations on social policies, service delivery with a focus on information and communications technology. 

We're also going to be hearing from Wairagala Wakabi.  He is the executive director at CIPESA, an organization aimed at promoting effective ICT policy in Africa.  He holds a Ph.D. in infomatics as well as a M of C in infomatics.  A highly decorated panel.  And we will be digging in to thoughts on issues later.  It brings me great joy to introduce the first speaker, Dr. Bernd Schramm, head of a global project commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for economic cooperation.  Welcome, Dr. Bernd Schramm. 

   >> BERND SCHRAMM:  Thank you.  Dear Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to this virtual workshop at this year's Internet Governance about Universal Design and digital inaccessibility.  My name is Bernd Schramm.  I'm the head of a global project on inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in German development cooperation. 
    I'm particularly thankful for the federal German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development who has not only commissioned our project but also supporting this important workshop. 
    It is a real pleasure to me to have the honor to welcome our great speakers and Moderators today on behalf of BM Zed.  They spared no efforts to be with us and share their extraordinary expertise and insights on this important subject.  I also want to thank Paul Horsters from GIZ for taking the lead in conceptualizing this workshop and bringing together such a diverse group of competent speakers. 
    What we are talking about today we will be talking about an issue of increasing relevance and great scope which has unfortunately been neglected for too long.  The inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in the area of digital development.  Persons with Disabilities constitute more than 15% of the world's population and more than 1 billion people globally of which 80% live in low and middle income countries. 
    The German Development Cooperation implements a Human Rights based approach strongly targeted towards gender equality and seeks to mainstream inclusion of Persons with Disabilities within its projects and programs.  The strategy for digital development by BM Zed, our Federal, Ministry entails equal opportunities as one of its five main pillars.  Roughly one year ago BM Zed adopted a comprehensive cross‑sectional strategy for including Persons with Disabilities in our development efforts. 
    Ensuring this in an increasing number of digital projects worldwide is fundamental and grows more fundamental day by day.  The COVID‑19 pandemic reveals how situations of crisis affect the vulnerable the most and why we need to work together for a future that leaves no one behind. 
    Accessible applications, platforms, websites, but also digital literacy, digital skills, knowledge how to use assistive technologies, affordable soft and hardware as well as connectivity and awareness about existing technologies and their benefits is essential for building this future. 
    With regard to Persons with Disabilities we are currently piloting and upscaling different approaches to inclusive IT.  For instance, in Ghana, Morocco and Kenya, both the so‑called digital scales accelerator, an Africa focus on IT skills and shops for Persons with Disabilities.  We support these projects together with valuable partners from the private sector, the Government, and international NGOs, specializing on disability rights. 
    Why is it important to have Persons with Disabilities as coders, web and software developers of tomorrow?  Because only if digital technologies are designed inclusively from the start, we make essential features of social life available for all.  E‑governance, e‑education, e‑Health are just some of the many examples for this.  There is sometimes a misunderstanding when talking about Universal Design in the context of disabilities. 
    Universal Design seeks to make products, services and environments accessible for all, not just for Persons with Disabilities.  In fact, the most diverse groups of users including Persons with Disabilities should participate in the design of these products and services. 
    There is one thing people often forget to realize in this context that challenges experienced by Persons with Disabilities and other groups can do and do actually foster innovation, increase usability and widen the customer base and ultimately benefit everyone.  For example, voice output and input does not only benefit Persons with Disabilities, but illiterates and elderly persons as well. 
    The invention of the e‑mail is another example.  This would not have been possible without trying to overcome communication barriers through digital technologies for persons with hearing impairments. 
    Let me stop here dear, Ladies and Gentlemen.  Our great speakers know much more about this and they know much more about this than I do.  So I thank every one of you for joining in today and look very much forward for this exciting workshop.  Back to Edith.  Thanks again to all you. 

   >> EDITH KIMANI:  Thank you very much, Dr. Bernd Schramm.  I think we all felt like your speech ended a little bit too soon.  I could have wanted to hear more from you.  But auspices start indeed.  Based off what Dr. Bernd Schramm has said what do you think is the main challenge of one billion people with disabilities worldwide in using digital technologies from your point of view?  Do you think that it is A, affordability?  Is it B, connectivity?  C, accessibility?  D, awareness?  E, skills?  Or F, something that's not even on this list.  I will just go through those options again.  Is it affordability?  Connectivity?  Accessibility?  Awareness?  Skills?  Or something that's not even posed right here? 

I really look forward to your comments and your views on that.  But to move along with the program I will definitely be sharing the results on that, don't you worry.  But the first question I would like to pose is to Irene Mbari‑Kirika, one of our esteemed panelists ‑‑ you should have a popup on the screen to let you choose what you think the answer is and you can submit.  I have just made my submission. 
    All right.  So back to Mrs. Irene Mbari‑Kirika.  First of all, I'm asking you to do something impossible, to anticipate what you think our participants will say.  And then I will give you the real answer and we are going with your views on that. 

   >> IRENE MBARI‑KIRIKA:  Thank you.  I think because I work in this space, I think accessibility is one of the biggest challenges. 

   >> EDITH KIMANI:  All right.  Short and sweet, to the point.  Paul Horsters, what do our participants think?  Can you bring us the poll results? 

   >> PAUL HORSTERS:  I can't see them right now.  I think there are people saying that C and E are the main barriers.  And that is ‑‑ C and E, that's accessibility and skills.  That's what's being said here right now.  Another participant is telling that accessibility covers the other options as well.  I don't know whether Irene would agree with that.  But yeah, go ahead. 

   >> EDITH KIMANI:  Okay.  Sorry, Irene, for interrupting but it would seem from right at this moment Tim is suggesting that the poll needs to be closed and then it will show up.  The theory that accessibility encompasses all, what are your views on that? 

   >> IRENE MBARI‑KIRIKA:  I'm glad to hear accessibility and skills while some of the top comments because I'm actually in both accessibility and skills training.  And I completely agree, if products are not accessible, if you don't focus on inclusive design, if you don't understand what people with disabilities need, you cannot design for them.  So you cannot have an accessible product.  So at the same time people with disabilities need digital skills.  InABLE which is the organization that I help have spent the last 13 years training blind students how to use technology.  So we do have kids that do basic computer skills all the way to coding.  Unless you teach the basic basic skills how to operate devices and to use the technology and access products they will not be able to move to the next level.  So at the same time for them to access that information, the products that you are providing have to be fully accessible. 

   >> EDITH KIMANI:  Okay.  I'm just going to come back to you with a follow‑up question because we are talking about Universal Design.  Oh.  Hold on one second.  I have been interrupted by the poll results.  And the numbers are in.  It looks like accessibility by a wide margin.  That's what we people think is the biggest challenge to people with disabilities worldwide using digital technologies.  57% of you think that accessibility is a problem followed closely by affordability, and then awareness and other, sort of combined and skills and connectivity somehow end up at the bottom. 

Coming back to you, we are speaking about Universal Design.  And the guy who coined this phrase, he said that it is the concept of designing all products in the built environment to be aesthetically useable to the greatest extent of everyone regardless of age, ability or status in life.  Where are we missing the mark?  Are we ‑‑ is it the design excluding Persons with Disabilities or just not universal? 

   >> IRENE MBARI‑KIRIKA:  I think we are missing the mark in the first list, from even recognizing that people with disabilities exist and they have specific needs.  Even when they are going out to developing products, when they gather the requirements for a group of people who want to design for, people with disabilities don't exist.  When we present the product we present the product and say it is inclusive to everyone.  Until people with disabilities try to use the product and they realize they cannot use the product.  So the issue comes from requirements gathering to the design phase to the development testing, the whole process. 

   >> EDITH KIMANI:  This is a fantastic time to bring Tim Unwin.  Should we seek to use digital tools to foster societal inclusion?  What's the best approach here? 

   >> TIM UNWIN:  Hi.  That wasn't the question I was expecting.  But that's fine.  I ‑‑ there isn't a best approach I think I will begin with.  I think we need to design at the contextually specific level.  Far too often people are interested in making a universal single solution that they will be able to market across the world. 
    And actually if you drill down the needs of people in particular in context are important.  And can apply to all different levels.  It can apply in terms of the design of policies and strategies.  You can have templates that can be adapted.  But it also goes right down to the ‑‑ design of particular products.  I hear we have ‑‑ we were talking before this session was set up, what sign language are we going to use.  There are many different sign languages and attempts to universalize those.  But just like I speak in English, (speaking in a non‑English language).  Yeah, there is the dominance of the global.  So and I think listening to what Irene was saying for me probably the most important thing it should never be designing for but always designing with.  And I would pick up on her point, that all too often people just don't see and using that word wisely, people with disabilities.  And they need to be involved in the process from the very, very beginning.  And yeah, that's part of empowerment for people with disabilities. 

   >> EDITH KIMANI:  I really like what you just said, Tim.  I'm sorry but the question is not what you are expecting but I have to say you handled it quite well.  So how far can Universal Design increase digital accessibility and stimulate innovation?  We will be coming back to some of these themes. 

   >> BERNARD CHIIRA:  Yeah.  I hope you can hear me well.  Thank you very much.  So yeah.  So I think when you look at digital accessibility and Universal Design as enablers then a lot of interesting things start to happen.  I will give you very practical examples.  One of the most fundamental issues around universal design is participation.  That everyone can participate.  And when you look at how our society is organized, a lot of the developments, economic developments, social developments that every country so aspiring to achieve, look at the SDGs that we are all globally trying to drive together.  This cannot be achieved if you leave any segment of society behind. 
    And Persons with Disabilities I'm glad, you know, our Minister from Germany talked about, you know, we are talking about 15% of the total global population contributing to economic and social development.  Think about that.  Think about the number of people in Kenya or any other, you know, lower living country that has not being given the opportunity to contribute to social and economic development. 

Now let's see what happens when you introduce these concepts.  All of a sudden because of Universal Design we can achieve accessible transportation.  People can move and go to work.  That's the one that I have seen people try to address by putting ramps, but it is more than a ramp.  It is more wholistic than that.  We have to think about accessibility more wholistically.  How accessible are our institutions, our banks, our schools, you know.  Am I able to achieve the same level, arrive at a meeting at the same time and not have to wake up five hours earlier to get to the same meeting, because if I go during a peak time during traffic I basically wouldn't be able to access.  And that's happening in many parts of the world including right here in Kenya. 

I will give you possibilities.  All of a sudden you will see children who for many reasons are not able to access education early enough because schools do not feel equipped to train children with disabilities.  And Irene is working in this sector trying to bring digital skills to children who are visually impaired.  All of a sudden these kids come from a very young age to become contributors.  And last but not least we talk about, you know, wanting to achieve sustainable impact in many ‑‑ in many facets of life. 
    When we look at our society, when we look at our environment, all these issues can actually ‑‑ we can take ‑‑ we can learn from inclusive design and use the ten principles to make the world a better place.  It is not about Persons with Disabilities.  It is about human beings being able to thrive on this planet.  And it is not a favor.  We are not asking special treatment for Persons with Disabilities.  All we are trying to ask for is can we build our world where everyone can participate regardless of their age, disability and any other characteristics that makes us unique.  Thank you very much. 

   >> EDITH KIMANI:  Thank you so much, Bernard.  I think that was a really strong point.  Wholistic Universal Design and I like the examples you gave about having to plan two hours before getting to work because it simply is just not accessible.  And it sounds like a very rudimental thing, but can you maybe take us back to some of the specific challenges that people with disabilities in low and middle income countries like this one we are living in with regard to ICT usage face? 

   >> BERNARD CHIIRA:  Thank you very much.  So when I look at the future of education, and even the current trends in education, and I choose education because I believe it is so fundamental in creating a sustainable future for our kids, technology is deeply embedded.  We are not escaping from this.  And we cannot claim to be an advanced society.  If the most vulnerable people in our society cannot access the same level of user experience as anyone else.  So in Kenya we are now being faced with a COVID‑19 pandemic.  These are a very practical example.  All the schools are closed.  And the new trend now is digital learning.  Let's learn from home.  Let's all join Zoom and have a great time, right? 

Now when you look at kids who have disabilities, it is so sad because their problems are compounded.  Parents are not equipped with how to give their kids access to digital learning.  If you have a disability, your parent is trying to get around Zoom before they can even help you.  And also we have a challenge of resource.  Many homes are not equipped with the assistive technology and digital tools that would enable kids with disabilities to learn while they are at home.  And this ‑‑ we don't know how long COVID is going to last.  But it is teaching us fundamental lessons about inclusion.  Because if I am able to learn from home why shouldn't a kid who is blind or deaf be able to access their class from home. 
    And our education ministries, our Governments needs to be empowered to not ‑‑ to look at disability inclusion from a lens of, you know, this is not a special thing.  We have to think ‑‑ sort out everyone else.  This is something we have to sort out from Day One.  Our schools need to be equipped with the technologies and resource people to help our kids learn. 
    And that is just education.  I have not talked about access to work where we also need inclusive employment and jobs.  Our current cohort, we ran ‑‑ we run cohorts of support for assistive technology entrepreneurs.  And we just launched a call for innovators who are providing inclusive solutions for employment and the role of assistive technology in that space is tremendous. 
    And these are some of the practical examples.  And I believe that from COVID we are all learning one or two things on how to become better human beings.

   >> EDITH KIMANI:  I sure hope so.  I sure hope so.  So Claire, we have heard from Bernard that some of the key challenges, particularly in low and middle income countries access digital literacy, being far too expensive, but even if you have all of these things, there is a question of this design.  And from the perspective of the private sector, Claire, I would like to know what are the main reasons to disregard disability inclusion in the development of digital products and services?  I mean how far is the private sector in charge really to increase digital accessibility and how can it be done? 

   >> CLAIRE SIBTHORPE:  Thanks for the question.  The private sector needs to do more and I would argue that all stakeholders need to do more.  Unfortunately I think this is being not considered sufficiently by all stakeholders this issue.  As I think that Bernard mentioned it is considered an add on or an afterthought.  It is not the way that it should be considered.  In terms of Universal Design if you ‑‑ if there is a section that adding this or considering this as an add on is an extra cost and it is difficult.  But I think Universal Design is good design.  And if you design your product with everyone in mind from the start then this sort of benefits everyone.  And that needs to be the way it is done.  We are about to release a set of principles for digital inclusion for people with disabilities on December 3rd which has been designed by and for the mobile industry.  And mobile being a key tool.  So that's the tool that most people have in their hands.  Smartphones have a lot of accessibility features in there.  It is a huge potential. 

And we set out three kind of main areas that need to be tackled if we are going to do.  One you need to embrace disability inclusion at every level of organization.  When we launch this we will have a series of practical things that people can do under this.  You need to embrace digital inclusion.  You need to understand how and better to reach Persons with Disabilities, to understand the challenges and needs.  And we, for example, run more ‑‑ there are moments around looking at the customer journey and understanding what are the needs and requirements of Persons with Disabilities at every step in that kind of journey to accessing and using products.  So without that data and understanding then it is an impossible design.  And then you need to really focus on delivering those inclusive products to meet the diverse needs and requirements of Persons with Disabilities. 

So I think, you know, what we are seeing there is a lot more action by the private sector, certainly within our members.  More initiatives, more needs to be done for sure, but definitely a greater awareness and people are much more mindful.  Safari Com has been doing a lot of work in this space.  They developed a voice platform to enable visually impaired people to dial a number to connect.  So we are seeing more.  But more needs to be done. 

Another space where there is more work needed in the innovation space.  We see that there is a lot ‑‑ we have identified through our research a lack of early stage funding for startups and social enterprises trying to develop digital assistive products with inclusive design.  We have launched ‑‑ that support financial and with technical assistance.  And when we look at our research this is kind of point on the question that was raised in the Zoom.  So we do a lot of research also on this topic to try and fill this gap.  Because there is a big gap in terms of data available.  We have done big surveys and big pieces of researches in lots of low and middle income countries.  There is a disability gap in access and use of mobile which means that even if you have inclusive designs, products and service they are not reaching everybody.  So we need to address this gap.  When we look at what barriers people are using, mobile services, people with disabilities, the number of ‑‑ the top barriers that are coming out are affordability of handsets and awareness of accessibility features. 

We did some research in Kenya and Bangladesh and only 10% use features.  We just published a training content that could be used by any organization just to increase awareness about for people with visual and hearing disabilities but how to use the accessibility features.  Even when these are there and things are accessible there is a lack of awareness they have there and how to use them.  It is a big issue, this whole issue that needs to be thought about from both the access to the devices and affordability of devices and accessibility and design of services.  It needs to be considered wholistically if we are going to tackle this important challenge and a huge opportunity for people.  It is a massive market opportunity and segment if you think about the number of people with disabilities in the world and the critical importance of ensuring they are included.  As Bernard said right from the beginning it needs to be thought of from the start of the design process and consideration of products and services. 

   >> EDITH KIMANI:  Thank you so much.  Just to borrow your words, Universal Design is good design.  The private sector is getting it better, but a lot still needs to be done.  So Wairagala Wakabi, what's the main challenge, particularly from a policy point of view? 

   >> WAIRAGALA WAKABI:  Thank you.  I would say that the challenge is for the government is a bit different from those of the private sector.  For the most part I think Governments either are indifferent or clueless or both about what they should do to meaningfully improve accessibility.  There are no champions for most governments familiar with.  No champions for accessibility, but there is also limited advocacy that comes from the Government sector that is holding Governments to account in order to support accessibility more robustly.  So the manifestation is obviously the lack of government efforts in this regard, include the poor implementation of laws and policies.  Very many Governments have laws and policies that really aim to improve accessibility.  But they are hardly implemented.  The policies on access to information, on education, on right to political participation, all of which have very good aspirations among the different countries.  But we find that hardly anything is done partly because like I said Government either appear indifferent or clueless, but also there is little that is being done in the way of holding them to account to show how you have lived up to what we expect of you as a Government and that should be doing. 
    The Governments, for instance, have in many countries they have inaccessible websites, inaccessible e‑services where even national authorities in countries like Kenya, Uganda, where Government ministries and agencies ‑‑ but there is nobody being held to account when they do not honor those obligations. 
    The issue of access to education services in the COVID era, it is also true for like work but it is also true for political participation.  Very many countries right now are going through electoral processes, but there are social distancing processes that need to be followed.  A lot of campaigning, a lot of citizen education, how leaders engage with the ‑‑ how they are engaging with the electorate in digital means.  Laws that provide for accessibility, for information be released in friendly formats, we find that there is very little that is being done in terms of providing that information in friendly formats which obviously undermines the right to participation for Persons with Disabilities. 

The other issue again which was ‑‑ it is both a manifestation of the problem but also becomes a problem itself is the lack of disaggregated data.  Goal 17 of the SDGs stresses the need for countries to provide high quality, timely and reliable data, that is disaggregated by disability.  There is the African protocol on the rights of Persons with Disabilities which was passed just two years ago. 
    It also asks countries to ensure collection of ‑‑ collection and analysis of national statistics and data that cover disability in order to promote the rights of Persons with Disabilities.  But when you look at our countries, I do not know any country that consistently collects data on how many people with disabilities are there.  What are their needs.  What categories are using ICTs and how they are not.  A few countries like Kenya, Uganda a year or two ago have done studies ‑‑ or in the information African protocol. 
    The similar thing is with expensive assistive technologies we see that Governments are not doing anything about this.  They should and they have the means to do it.  But also the private sector didn't do anything substantial about it. 
    Why?  Again it goes to the lack of sufficient goodwill, the lack of holding Government to account, the lack of Governments and regulators themselves also holding private sector players to be accountable and fulfill their obligations. 
    Governments, of course, can offer incentives for investment that innovation in accessible devices and software to encourage their development.  This could be done for ‑‑ through tax incentives, tax exemptions on mobile devices, for instance.  Or through the usage of Universal Service Funds.  Very many countries have Universal Service Funds that are not invested very sustainably, which do not always go to meeting the mandates of enabling the people who are marginalized, unserved to get access.  Many Governments also have tech innovation funds that are often given out to mostly through competitive processes.  This chunk of this could go to supporting accessibility.  My last point on this is with the private sector. 
    I think that the social and business case for accessibility, design and innovation is not apparently clear to many of the private sector actors.  That means that they have not addressed accessibility issues sufficiently.  But also in a situation where Governments are not enforcing laws and policies of this.  And Civil Society also is not really speaking out forcibly and loudly to make a case for private sector to offer obligations.  We have seen very little in the way of the private sector itself coming on the table proactively and robustly working to improve accessibility.     

   >> EDITH KIMANI:  Well, what an opening you started with.  Mr. Wairagala Wakabi, saying that Governments are completely clueless.  Then I have to go back to Tim because I don't want to leave us feeling so desolate and hopeless.  In the absence of Government and lackluster at best participation through the private sector how can we support digital inclusion through the development cooperation? 

   >> TIM UNWIN:  Thank you.  I have put up on the screen some of the answers, ways through which we might be able to address it more.  The first I think particularly international agencies and organizations but also entities such as GIZ and our own IZ in UK.  So good practices include examples from elsewhere and you design in to your local context.  And I think there is a key role going back to what was just said about international agencies and donors helping Governments to deliver just what was articulated so very, very clearly just before me. 
    So sharing good practices, not imposing a single universal practice.  Having guidelines and templates is what I talk about you can adapt in your local context is really important.  And I think, you know, where ‑‑ I have written this before you said what you said, so I think the second point I make here is how we can support Governments to turn policy rhetoric in to practical actions.  In recent years I have been working with Islamic countries, and we did a survey of five Islamic countries, all of which had very, very different levels of policy application implementation for Persons with Disabilities.  And I think if we had to encapsulate these and they included places like Jordan, Tunisia, Kata, Pakistan and Malaysia, a range of different countries.  But going back to Wairagala Wakabi's ‑‑ the policies are designed and written up by consultants and experts from outside who pay a huge amount of money.  If donors and organizations should having maybe supported those policies as being drafted that engage practically on the ground in their implementation. 

And I think the third point I would make very briefly and Claire, we can perhaps have a discussion, a debate about this, but I think a real challenge with the digital tech sector at the moment is too much funding that's being spent on innovation.  Innovation has become a buzz word.  In ‑‑ if you are an entrepreneur ‑‑ it is immoral for donors to fund too much on innovation.  We know going back to Bernard's point about education, we know how to deliver education with and for the most marginalized.  We have known it for years but we are not doing it.  We know how to roll out tech for Persons with Disabilities in vocational training.  We know how to do it. 

GIZ has done some outstanding work in this field.  But we are not doing it.  Why are we not doing it?  Because we have a fetish around innovation science is going to solve the world's problems.  It is not having the will.  I would go back and summarize those three points.  Firstly, sharing good practices.  Secondly, supporting Governments to turn policy rhetoric in to practical actions on the ground.  And thirdly funding things that we already know make a difference.  But if Governments and donors spent more money funding what we know really works we would make a huge leap forward and let the private sector get on with doing innovation and taking those risks.  So thanks ever so much to coming back to Edith.  I appreciate that and I hope I may have stirred up a little bit of debate. 

   >> EDITH KIMANI:  Actually you have.  The original question was if there is one thing you could change about accessibility of digital technologies what would it be.  But Tim has given a breakdown of what we can do.  So rather do you think there is anything else you could add to that?  Anything that Tim hasn't mentioned that you would change or you could change about accessibility of digital technologies?  Please let us know.  I would like to come back to Claire because as you were speaking Irene asked a question and I think she was asking from the perspective of private sector. 

   >> CLAIRE SIBTHORPE:  Yeah.  So more generally around to sort of Tim's point, so absolutely, like we fundamentally believe that it needs to be ‑‑ that a lot can be done without necessarily investment in innovation.  There is huge, fundamental building blocks that can be addressed and tackled by the private sector, but we also do think that there is a role to fund innovators.  The mobile space is a new space.  Access to Smartphones is getting out in a rate that's higher than it has ever been before.  There is a lot of new ‑‑ it is a new area.  So I think it is unlike other sectors where it is maybe more mature.  We did some landscaping research where we looked at is there much innovation.  And there was surprising little innovators do, work around the tackling barriers to digital inclusion for people with disabilities.  And when we looked at why that was the case it was a lack of that funding.  So I think in a kind of a newer area, I think there is a role for investment and innovation.  That does absolutely not mean that we can't ‑‑ we shouldn't be focusing on the building blocks.  And that should be a very core focus and that's the work we do with our members.  But I think there is ‑‑ there is a role for that investment and innovations fail but we should learn from these failures.  These are issues that need to be tackled and we need to invest in a range of ways including looking at how we can support innovation as well as getting some of the fundamental building blocks down.  So it is a space for everything.  And I think specifically in looking at digital inclusion, we are at an interesting point where we have that access and not seeing some innovations.  And we think we can.  And we announced an innovation fund.  And we have got a lot of applications and interesting stuff that we haven't seen before is coming through.  So I do think there is a space, but I agree that it is not the answer and ‑‑ but there is space for that.  I don't know if I have entirely answered the question that I was asked, but that's the point I wanted to make. 

   >> EDITH KIMANI:  Irene might respond privately on the chat.  I would like to invite all 43 participants that you might have.  We open the floor to you to send any questions or statements you might have that you would like shared at this panel.  But before we get to that, or as you are sending those questions, I would like to come to ‑‑ I'm not sure if Bernard is the best place to answer this.  Tim said we should get away from using the word best practice.  What's the best way to measure efficacy of digital accessibility?  Irene, do you want to take that? 

   >> IRENE MBARI‑KIRIKA:  I would think that Bernard, you should take that.  Let me give it to Bernard. 

   >> BERNARD CHIIRA:  You asked the best way to measure.  And, you know, while I agree, I mean I come from the innovation practice.  So before I respond to this, I will say to Tim that what we need is not less investment in innovation.  It is a balanced investment in all the facets that we know are needed.  But just coming back to your question, I think measuring cannot happen if we don't have metrics.  So we need benchmarks and we need to identify, okay, for example, if it is e‑education sector in a country, how do we ‑‑ first of all, what goals do we have for accessibility because those gives us benchmarks.  And then we set metrics around those benchmarks that can help us understand whether moving in the right direction or missing the point.  A good goal would be we love to have say 20% increase in the number of Persons with Disabilities getting in to professions that are digital technology oriented. 
    And we have that as a goal.  We can then go and look at our education system and courses that are offered to everyone to become professionals in this area.  And then ask ourselves how do we measure, you know, the number of Persons with Disabilities being able to access, you know, training and how do we monitor that. 
    So the thing is my challenge with a lot of the approaches is that we do not seem to have clear goals and we do not have ‑‑ we do not seem to have clear metrics around how we are going to measure whether we are achieving those goals.  I think we can learn from the SDGs.  They are ambitious goals and they provide everyone with overarching direction.  But I think we have a responsibility as countries, as Governments to set our own benchmarks and goals around accessibility and not just in education.  We have to do this in a wholistic manner across society.  We have to look at the built environment.  We have to look at education.  We have to look at employment.  We have to look at contribution and participation of Persons with Disabilities, even in leadership.  And define clear goals and say what will we achieve in the next five years and how will we measure that.  How will we report that and how will we practically demonstrate that we have either achieved or not achieved those goals.  Thank you. 

   >> EDITH KIMANI:  Thank you so much, Bernard.  Already somebody with a response saying, you know, their argument and their opinion that the SDGs have failed.  So setting goals, his point is doesn't really make sense.  But I will give you a chance to respond to that later.  I would like to ask Irene, what are some of the digital tools for Persons with Disabilities.  As you are thinking about that I would like Tim to take on one question, it is a comment from Peter Crosby.  And he says for the most part we are continuing to understand accessibility in terms of physical and sensory disabilities.  As such we are ignoring one or more, if not the largest disabled populations for whom we have to understand ICT accessibility very differently.  A word that Bernard has used what is our responsibility when we talk about inclusion?  But Irene, first to you, some of the digital tools available. 

   >> IRENE MBARI‑KIRIKA:  There are various digital tools available for people with disabilities.  But one thing I want to say first is some people with disabilities use specific tools.  But also if you have your product fully accessible following the globe accessibility guidelines you will make your products accessible to more than just people with disabilities.  People with low literacy levels will be able to access your contents and as we know we have huge numbers of people with low interest levels.  People in low bandwidth areas will be able to access your information.  We know that Africa, most of it has very low bandwidth areas and the elderly will benefit from digital products and service if they are actually accessible.  When you design for people with disabilities you design for everyone. 

So some of the tools I would talk about are like screen readers.  For people who are blind or low vision, blind people use screen readers.  And what happens is that this screen reader reads the content.  Most people don't understand how does a blind person get on our website.  What happens is a screen reader reads the content on the website and that's how they operate the device.  They operate different applications.  If your website or application is not accessible, then the screen reader will not be able to read the content. 

During this COVID season a lot of people are using PDFs to communicate to share a lot of information.  To write reports and send them around.  What's happening is that you find a lot of those PDFs are not accessible to screen readers.  So screen readers, sometimes a PDF is blank or it reads information in a ‑‑ in a very different way than it should, that the information is not able to make sense to someone who is blind.  We also have Zoom, what is it called ‑‑ screen magnifiers for those who are legally blind.  They can magnify the content up to 400%.  For people who are deaf you use captions.  I am insisting when you design for people with disabilities you design for people with disabilities.  If you don't want to make noise for anyone you put on captions.  Someone using a public transport for any public space, you are listening to a video or watching something, you turn on captions.  Think about Zoom and Skype, we are using captions.  People can use captions if they don't want noise around them.  If you make your digital products and services accessible for assistive technology to be compatible what ends up happening?  You benefit everyone.  Thank you. 

   >> EDITH KIMANI:  Thank you so much, Irene, and I'd just like to reiterate that Claire posted a link that can help with training.  Claire, I hope I'm sending the right message here that can help with usability of some of these tools. 
    But Tim, I had asked you a question.  I hope you are ready for me. 

   >> TIM UNWIN:  Yes.  Thank you very much indeed.  I thank you for the question.  I think it is ‑‑ what is our responsibility.  But I would like to begin with ‑‑ a short story at my expense.  I was ‑‑ I'm sort of kind of lively and when I am in a real live face‑to‑face gathering I get up and walk about.  At last year's IGF I got up and walked around.  Afterwards somebody came up to me and was very cross with me.  And she said I have autism and I was very annoyed with that.  I couldn't concentrate.  I was deliberately going up to people who were deaf.  And I have some physicality there and blind people touching their desk.  So I was trying very, very hard but we still make mistakes.  And I think part of the answer is we can never get it right but or responsibility is to be aware. 
    And then sort of two more positive things, I hope.  One is I go back to what so many colleagues around the table are saying already.  Our responsibility must be inclusion for those with cognitive disabilities.  They are often forgotten because they are invisible.  So we need to be aware and do our best to be inclusive. 

And I think going back to some of the things that Bernard was saying around education, and I have a real challenge still over this debate between special education and mainstream education. 
Should we include all Persons with Disabilities in the same learning environment.  Ideally yes, but I know no education system in the world that is funded sufficiently well to do that.  So for persons with cognitive disabilities how should we be helping them learn?  What's the best environment in which to do that?  And I remain challenged by that.  If there is enough resourcing in the education system, I think the mainstream is important.  But in some contexts and, you know, across the world, particularly in Africa I have been to some amazing special schools, incredible amount of work to support people with cognitive disabilities.  My main point in answer though, what everyone has been reiterating, Edith, you have been saying it is about inclusion.  It is about a complete change of mindset and it is all of our responsibilities. 
    We will never get it right, but that doesn't mean that we can't go on trying to be more inclusive in everything that we do.  Can I tell one other last story?  One minute? 

   >> EDITH KIMANI:  Yes. 

   >> TIM UNWIN:  It is a physical disability one, but it links in to this very nicely.  Some people think that the UK is a great country.  With Brexit coming up and the way that we have mishandled COVID‑19 I'm sure that's wrong.  I had a son who had Perthes' disease, disease of the hip.  And when we were choosing secondary schools and I said what's your provision for Persons with Disabilities and the teacher showing us around said we don't have Persons with Disabilities.  And I think in answer to your question there, cognitive disabilities, that is just so, so real.  Thank you.  I have spoken too long.  I must shut up. 

   >> EDITH KIMANI:  I really liked your points.  Thank you for sharing, but now I would like to invite back Paul Horsters because he is our online Moderator.  And I believe he has some questions from Youtube.  And Irene says she would like to make a comment if time allows for education for students with disabilities.  We will have Paul first.  And then Irene. 

   >> PAUL HORSTERS:  Hello.  Maybe we can take Dafni Stevens because she said she would like to comment on that directly.  Is it possible to unmute her?  I think she is currently in the watcher's list.  While we are waiting for that, we could continue with some questions that we received from Youtube. 
    So there is one question from Sammy.  She ‑‑ the first one was from Christina.  Are there training programs for the parents with disabled children?  Learning usually starts at home.  I think that would maybe go to Wairagala Wakabi or Tim that is engaged with education.  And then another question for the development cooperation sphere, what are the three main highlighted points about accessible features that development companies have to keep in mind?  The three main highlighting points about accessible feature.  Maybe we can head over to Dafni Stevens and if not possible then I would like Tim or Wairagala Wakabi to answer the question. 

   >> EDITH KIMANI:  Please go ahead, Irene. 

   >> IRENE MBARI‑KIRIKA:  Great.  So thank you for the question.  So yes, there are programs for parents with disabilities and let me talk about specifically Africa and not the first world. 
    The challenge we face is that there are very, very limited resources for parents of children with disabilities.  InABLE just completed a study, courtesy of UK aid and we were ‑‑ we were trying to figure out what's going on with students with disabilities three months after COVID kicked in when the Government said that currently students are learning from home.  What we found is devastating.  Kids with disabilities who are at home are not receiving any form of education.  If there is any education it is on TV or radio which is not accessible to if you are deaf or if you are blind, you are actually left out.  So there is actually a big challenge in terms of parents are struggling a lot.  And there is a lot of pressure.  Students are struggling a lot because they are very idle and they are resulting to just doing household chores.  And students are anxious to go back to school because they feel that's where they belong. 

In terms of investment there is limited investments.  The other comment I wanted to pass on education is that I think as donor agencies, as NGOs, as organizations, we are ‑‑ we have a habit of naturally focusing on a trend.  We bring programs based on trend.  But one thing I want to say COVID has created a lot of opportunities for disability.  And it is important because disability has been brought to the forefront and most importantly people are realizing that the tech we talk about all the time is not inclusive.  Whether it is products or services or education or anything.  The biggest mistake we are making when you don't invest in the future of education.  What do ‑‑ I mean of disability.  What does that mean?  If you are going to invest in disability it doesn't start with innovation and employment.  It starts with education.  We must make sure that our products have a full ecosystem where you start from education, what type of support are we providing for education in special schools.  What are we providing in higher education.  And then we get to employment and then get to products and services.  What you are going to find today everyone's focused on products and services and employment.  Half the time people are complaining people with disabilities don't have the skills they need to even be employed.  So what I'm saying is the students in disabilities who are in school today, five years from today are going to be knocking on doors to join employment or become entrepreneurs.  There is 0 investment in tech.  We are talking technology but special schools in Africa have 0 technology.  InABLE has spent the last 13 years teaching blind kids how to use technology if you give them the skills and technology they need.  So all donor agencies this has been done in the first world.  It has been successful.  When they come to investing in disability in Africa please let's start with education.  Because education with investment education, investing in the future of disability in Africa.  Thank you. 

   >> EDITH KIMANI:  Thank you very much, Irene.  And Dafni who we are trying to get in touch with has just sent us a.  Message might be easier to respond to Tim.  I don't know if you would like to read it out, Tim, as it is for you. 

   >> TIM UNWIN:  Yeah, I am just reading it and for those who may not be able to see, my little brother with Down Syndrome has been lucky enough to go to a "normal" school with special support, but this has definitely allowed him to develop in such a way that might not have been possible if he went to special education.  Now the whole town knows about him, and he is very much included in the society.  So to add a positive note from the Netherlands.

I have got nothing to add.  Dafni says thanks.  But my comment would be I think that just reinforces how great examples can be models.  And it is working with people with disabilities to help them become more visible I guess is part of the going back to the invisible thing.  Enabling it to be normal.  We all have disabilities and we all have abilities.  Those of you who have fewer disabilities are incredibly privileged and can benefit from tech less.  Those who have most disabilities are able to benefit from tech for more than those of us who have fewer disabilities.  We need to make everyone realize that.  I think that Claire is better than I am to answer the private sector question.  I don't know if she ‑‑ three main points about accessible features that the private sector should keep in mind.  I could answer that but Claire, you might prefer to. 

   >> EDITH KIMANI:  Claire, it appears you have been volunteered to answer a question. 

   >> CLAIRE SIBTHORPE:  Yeah, I mean I guess what are the three main features.  I think it is hard to answer that question because I think what we need to recognize is that there is such a diversity in terms of disability.  So while one feature might be relevant for one segment of the population, so it is hard ‑‑ again what we as a program focusing on we see mobile as a key tool.  Our concern about the sort of lack of access to Smartphones by people with disabilities because it offers a range of accessibility features and options to address the barriers, but I think it is hard to say just a few things, features because as has been highlighted there is a kind of visual impairment, hearing impairment but also cognitive disabilities.  So there is such a range.  It is very hard to say there is just one or two that would reach everyone, but it comes back to the fundamentals of this session that we need universal accessible design.  We need to be thinking about everyone.  And what are the challenges that people can face and if it can be accessible for as many people as possible.  It will benefit lower literacy or other challenges that they are facing.  We need to get back to that core Universal Design approach. 

   >> EDITH KIMANI:  Before you leave, there was an earlier question from Ben which ties in with what you are saying and his question how many development corporations or what can development corporations do to increase awareness of accessibility features? 

   >> CLAIRE SIBTHORPE:  Yeah, I shared in the chat we have ‑‑ we have created because of this issue and our ‑‑ didn't know about accessibility features.  We have created a training toolkit.  We are working with our mobile operator and others to see how that could be, you know, used as a tool to help increase awareness, but I think that's available to anybody.  And I would encourage people to try and use tools like that or just include it in the training but also do a lot more awareness raising about these features. 

And, you know, so I think there is just a role to raise awareness not about features but in general about this topic.  But I feel like we are starting to see a bit of a shift where there is a lot more ‑‑ there is an increased focus on it and recognition of the need to include Persons with Disabilities when thinking and that's ‑‑ it is at the beginning of a journey.  We have a long way to go, but it does seem and I think that COVID has helped highlight just the importance of this as an issue.  So I think there needs to be more awareness raising of importance of this and opportunity for addressing it and just more sort of research done in this space as a huge lack of data.  And you can't possibly know what actions to take if you don't have the information and data to support the actions.  There is massive lack of information on this topic.  Investing in training and awareness programs and pushing stakeholders who put this higher on their agenda and to think about it is an important thing to do. 

   >> EDITH KIMANI:  Thank you so much, Claire.  There is one more question I would like to ask to Wairagala Wakabi and then I will hand it over to Tim to give us a brief overview of what was discussed today.  You did say earlier that our Governments are at best clueless and they don't have accountability structures.  How do we motivate these policymakers in the private sector to adhere to it and to implement digital accessibility and policies and regulations? 

   >> WAIRAGALA WAKABI:  I think you need to show them the numbers.  For instance, it has been mentioned earlier that in many countries a large percentage of the population is Persons with Disabilities.  But also we need to show them that this population is largely left out in terms of access and use of technologies and the lack of accessibility obviously imparts a lot in their lives and livelihoods in areas like education, political participation and employment.  That would necessitate a need to conduct a gap analysis to understand what the needs, unmet needs of Persons with Disabilities are because like Claire just mentioned if we do not know what the gap is, what person with particular type of disabilities are facing as a challenge we are not going to be able to design useful solutions to those problems. 

But also Governments it is simple.  You have laws and regulations.  Enforce them.  You can start that enforcement by making your own products and services accessible.  A lot of e‑services that Governments are implementing, a lot of education, public education programs, a lot of eGovernment services.  Let Governments start by making all of those and all public websites accessible to the standards which they have already put in place in some countries.  Also we need to make the case that Governments need to promote affordable devices, affordable assistive devices and technologies.  And the money is available in many of the countries.  It would mostly be a matter of moving it and investing it away in this sector. 
    The other aspect which we need to do finally is making the case that implementing the existing laws and policies, the private sector must do more.  The private sector is not doing a lot of what it should be doing according to their obligations.  So Governments need to be hard on them that we need to implement these things.  But that is going to take a lot of actors from the different sectors educating the Government, helping to do research, presenting the evidence to say you need to act on this because it is a life problem by which is denying people so many opportunities. 

   >> EDITH KIMANI:  Maybe one day when we have a bit more time we can talk about research.  It seems to be a theme that keeps coming up and questions about data collection. 

Tim, I would love to give you this opportunity to give us an overview of what you think the key points were from this discussion.  And then we will wrap it up.  And unfortunately this is where our contributions to come to an end, but Tim, you do have the last word.  You are muted. 

   >> TIM UNWIN:  I am going to share my screen.  I hope this works and you have probably seen me, Tim.  You haven't been concentrating enough.  But with any luck you will see a screen of what I have been putting together.  Just anyone got a thumbs up to show if it is there?  Can you see it, Edith? 

   >> EDITH KIMANI:  Yes.  I can see it. 

   >> TIM UNWIN:  Great.  This is a summary of what you all have been saying.  I'm not sure Paul, if you can find a way of sharing it online.  Here is our wonderful Moderator in the middle and this we have the result of the poll.  And I ‑‑

   >> PAUL HORSTERS:  Right now we are seeing your desktop which is nice as well. 

   >> TIM UNWIN:  Sorry.  Let's get out.  Sorry.  It was meant to be seeing ‑‑ can you see a green ‑‑

   >> PAUL HORSTERS:  Now it is perfect.  Yeah. 

   >> TIM UNWIN:  Here we have our wonderful Edith who moderated and set us going.  If we go up, we began with Bernd making great points and bringing the key things there, the importance of Universal Design Universal Design and then Bernard commented on how far we can ‑‑ Universal Design increases digital accessibility and stimulates innovation.  Maybe we should make this a bit bigger as we look around.  And came up with again emphasizing accessible sustainable impact.  They brought in the SDGs.  We need a comment about the SDGs.  I made a mess of my first question, but then Edith came back to it when I was talking about international development and cooperation.  And then we had ‑‑ sorry.  Wairagala Wakabi gave a whole list of important things, that Governments are clueless, but the ideas around COVID and Claire, sorry, Claire, is ‑‑ I put over here.  We are talking about the great work that GSMA is doing, but emphasizing also that all stakeholders need to do more.  And she mentioned the GSMA digital principles for mobile industry are going to be launched in December.  We had a whole load of questions and then I have logged the answers here as well as I can. 

I know we are short of time.  But I hope you can see that that's a summary.  I hope you can feel your voices were represented.  And there will be this follow‑up that everyone involved in this session can take away.  Paul, I think you can put this ‑‑ I will clean it up, and you can put it on the GIZ site.  And I will put it on our UNESCO Chair site so everyone can have access.  Is that okay? 

   >> EDITH KIMANI:  That's fantastic.  I have no idea how you were able to do that and still respond to the questions that were being posed to you.  True, you are a man of many skills.  Thank you to Tim and all the panelists who showed up today.  I don't have anything to add because Tim has done a very good job of tieing everything together for us. 
    But my biggest take‑away was what Tim himself said, our biggest responsibility is inclusion.  Today I asked you for concrete steps that we can take to do this and I think we have heard about them.  Now it is up to us.  Thank you very much for attending this session and from Nairobi, Cohere. 

   >> TIM UNWIN:  Truly great moderation there.  Well done.

   >> Thank you very much. 

   >> Fantastic job, yeah. 

   >> Thank you Edith.  And thank you, everyone.

   >> Thank you. 

   >> Bye Chair. 

   >> BERNARD CHIIRA:  Bye.

   >> Excellent panel.  Thank you so much. 

   >> Thank you very much.

 

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