You are here

IGF 2020 – Day 11 – WS202 Digital Discrimination during the COVID 19 Pandemic

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. 

***

 

 

>> Lidia, can you hear or are you using captions?

>> LIDIA BEST: There is no captioning yet.

>> ANDREA SAKS: You can do it on Zoom. It will be automatic. Well, there's no captioning yet.

>> LIDIA BEST: It is now available.

>> In the closed caption button it shows subtitle.

>> ANDREA SAKS: We have a captioner. And we also have the streamtext. So two forms.

>> I posted the link of the streamtext.

>> ANDREA SAKS: The link for the captioning is in the chat box, Lidia. Lidia, hello.

>> The captions are working.

>> ANDREA SAKS: Yes. The captions are working now. It was quite a job to get this sorted out. It wasn't as simple as sending me the link. You haven't met Christopher Lee. Are you understanding any of this, Lidia?

>> LIDIA BEST: Hold on a second. I'm trying to set up my screen first. Thank you.

>> ANDREA SAKS: Okey‑dokey. Don't get the hump. We don't need it.

>> CHRISTOPHER LEE: Actually, Lidia and I have met. She's done a subject matter expert video with us.

>> LIDIA BEST: Thank you very much, Christopher, for sticking in. I am now set. That's fine.

>> ANDREA SAKS: Okay, good. Did you meet Christopher ‑‑ you met before?

>> LIDIA BEST: We met before, a few times.

>> ANDREA SAKS: I have never seen him in the flesh. First time.

 

>> CHRISTOPHER LEE: You have. At the U.N. there was an event two years ago. We hung out for a few minutes with a colleague of mine.

>> ANDREA SAKS: That was like ‑‑

>> CHRISTOPHER LEE: Forever ago.

>> ANDREA SAKS: I didn't connect that with you until now. Got it. Okay. Anyway, Lidia, what I was trying to tell you, it was a little bit more complicated than just getting a link.

>> LIDIA BEST: Okay.

>> ANDREA SAKS: That was why I had to just deal with it.

>> LIDIA BEST: I think it would be very good if our participants give feedback to IGF. I personally found it is a tiny bit confusing, but because I have done previous meetings it was easy for me to follow now. But, yes. It's definitely using online is much more confusing for people, especially when you are not used to a different way of doing things. Each organizer is doing things differently and set up different and that's the problem.

>> ANDREA SAKS: Luis is listening to you. Luis is IGF's technical man. He's got it. He's taking it in. He was helping me this morning.

 

>> LIDIA BEST: Anyway, how are you, Christopher?

>> ANDREA SAKS: No sound, Christopher.

>> CHRISTOPHER LEE: I'm doing very well. How are you?

>> LIDIA BEST: You're talking to Andrea or me?

>> ANDREA SAKS: Everybody.

>> LIDIA BEST: Okay. It's okay. We are locked down. We are still having to work from home and things like that. I don't like it. I don't like it because there is no schedule. There is no, you know, kind of plan for the day which we normally have. It is about kind of ‑‑ yeah, you could say we could have adapted since March.

It still is unsettling. Today it was a very good e‑mail from my company saying we know how unsettling this is with constant changes. This is the rule and now we're doing this, now we're doing something else. One moment I'm working two days a week in the moment. Another moment I am four days and another moment, I am not anymore. You cannot plan anybody. It is not possible to plan.

>> CHRISTOPHER LEE: Amazing how stressful it is for everyone. It's unbelievable. We're struggling over here in the U.S. We have these things going on, too, between presidents you could say. It's a lot of tension.

>> ANDREA SAKS: No politics, no politics.

>> CHRISTOPHER LEE: No politics.

>> LIDIA BEST: But I can imagine.

>> CHRISTOPHER LEE: Hopefully everything will work itself out, you know. We have several more months, I believe.

>> LIDIA BEST: It's not just unsettling for you guys but for everyone, even in Europe because of the ‑‑ it's not politics, but there is a famous saying. If America sneezes, Europe ‑‑ the rest of the world catches a cold.

>> ANDREA SAKS: I think that's very true, very true. Lidia and I are both in the UK. We are technically in lockdown. So our rules are not as bad as the first lockdown. We can go food shopping.

What else can we do? We can go exercise in our garden.

>> CHRISTOPHER LEE: Outside, yeah.

>> ANDREA SAKS: Yeah. We can go to the doctor. Or to the hospital. What else can we do? Lidia?

>> LIDIA BEST: We could do all those things previously.

>> ANDREA SAKS: Who is coming on?

>> This is Gabrielle maybe, our host.

>> ANDREA SAKS: Who just came on?

>> This is the host. We have two hosts. And Megan probably.

>> I'm Megan, hi.

>> Megan and Gabriel, can we look at you for a moment?

>> My web cam has a big crack across it.

>> All right. Gabrielle, I see you. The captioning is covering your picture. Can I move ‑‑

>> Luis?

>> ANDREA SAKS: I'm going to have everybody turn off their cameras except when they speak once we get going and get everybody on. I don't think the bandwidth will sustain. I'm in the middle of the countryside which has lousy internet.

>> All right.

>> ANDREA SAKS: We may do that. Nice to meet you, Gabrielle. So you are with IGF?

>> Yes, please.

>> ANDREA SAKS: Okay. I'm just the chairman of the session. It is actually Lidia's workshop. Oh, Fernando is coming in a minute. Hang on.

>> If you don't mind, two things, Andrea, if I can interrupt you. Paulina is already there. I'm sorry for the background noise.

>> LIDIA BEST: Luis?

>> Yes.

>> LIDIA BEST: Fernando from F123.org says he's having difficulty to log in. He's blind. Can someone send him a Zoom link via e‑mail? Can you send me a link ‑‑ a special link so I can send it to him?

>> I cannot send directly. Zoom will send to him directly. We need his address, please. Maybe put it in the chat and I will send an invitation.

>> ANDREA SAKS: Do you want to do that, Lidia?

>> LIDIA BEST: I'm just putting in chat.

>> Just to tell you, Gabrielle and Megan are part of this community capacity building, volunteer people working. Doing a great job for this IGF. I wanted to introduce you to Andrea. She's the chairwoman of this session. Just wanted to acknowledge each one with each other.

They are here to help you, Andrea, and team. Everything is ready. I hope you have a very good session. I'm always behind the scenes if you need anything at some point.

>> ANDREA SAKS: Okay. If we need you, we tell them and they tell you.

>> That's correct. That's correct. I will send this invitation to Fernando right now and I will pass the host role to Gabrielle and Megan. They make a great team.

>> ANDREA SAKS: We have another problem. We have Masahito who is online. He can't get on. Hang on a minute. I have to talk to him.

>> Masahito is a speaker, a panelist?

>> ANDREA SAKS: Yes.

>> Just promote him.

>> I just did that.

>> Yes. He will be there shortly.

>> ANDREA SAKS: Can you see him?

>> He will join very shortly.

>> ANDREA SAKS: So who do we have left? Paulina is on, correct?

>> Mm‑hmm. That's correct. Masahito is here as well.

>> ANDREA SAKS: I don't see him.

>> You can ask to start video on his name as the host.

>> ANDREA SAKS: How do I do that?

>> No, the hosts will do it. You can be made a co‑host, Andrea, if you prefer so. Do you want to be a co‑host of the meeting?

>> ANDREA SAKS: I don't understand. I'm just running the meeting. Oh, there. The only problem I have. Hi, Masahito. I guess I have to hide the subtitles because they are going over the pictures. Masahito is there.

>> LIDIA BEST: Can you make me a co‑host in case of problems.

 

>> ANDREA SAKS: The hosts will do that. Please make Lidia a co‑host of the meeting.

>> CHRISTOPHER LEE: Also I'm going to show a PowerPoint deck. As long as I can share. Sometimes it locks you out from sharing.

>> Okay.

>> LIDIA BEST: So does Masahito.

Masahito will be as well sharing his slides.

>> ANDREA SAKS: ‑‑ share screen. There is a share screen button down at the bottom.

>> Just to clarify all of your panelists can share with the share button. Okay? Christopher, you can. Lidia, Masahito, Paulina. Just click on the share button at the bottom and share what you want. Your screen, your screen with sound, any application, anything. Thank you.

>> LIDIA BEST: Paulina will not be speaking. She is just supporting reporting later after the meeting and so on. So what we have is Luis, Shadi. Oh, Shadi is in the chatroom.

>> Perfect, thank you.

>> ANDREA SAKS: Could Shadi come on as a picture so we know he works?

>> He will be there very soon.

>> ANDREA SAKS: We have MATJAZ ‑‑ he says the captioning is okay. We have Masahito. Hey, Shadi. Yabba‑dabba‑doo.

>> Hey, Andrea. Hey, everyone.

>> ANDREA SAKS: We have ten minutes before we start. I just wanted to say we are going to turn off our videos except for ‑‑ Lidia, do you want to stay videoed since you want to be the co‑host? Lidia?

>> LIDIA BEST: I don't have to really. In the webinar, no. Not really. It's the speakers which will be on. Luis, is that how you set up normally?

>> ANDREA SAKS: Yes. That's what we do normally, Lidia. We know that. I just asked if you wanted to be on with your video.

>> LIDIA BEST: You are the chair, Andrea. You should be on. Because we follow you.

>> ANDREA SAKS: Exactly. What I was going to say to everybody who was on ‑‑ is Fernando on?

>> Is Fernando on? Okay. No. I mean, is webinar has already started. I cannot just send directly a link for him, but I will do the necessary so he can receive it in the next minutes.

>> ANDREA SAKS: We have started? I thought we didn't start until 12:10.

>> It starts at 12:20.

>> ANDREA SAKS: I mean 12:20. It's 12:15. Okay. But we have started. Basically we'll do a roll call so everybody can speak. That is who in the bottom? I'm going to turn off my captions here. Hide subtitles.

Paulina. I see Paulina.

>> PAULINA LEWANDOWSKA: Hello, everyone.

>> ANDREA SAKS: I have never met you in the flesh. That's great.

>> PAULINA LEWANDOWSKA: I couldn't connect to use an American phone firstly. After that, I couldn't start video sharing. But I am on the other device. I hope that it will work.

>> ANDREA SAKS: Thank you very much, by the way, for taking notes and being responsible for the report and taking the captioning down. Have you got the captioning link?

>> PAULINA LEWANDOWSKA: Yes, I have it.

>> ANDREA SAKS: Shadi, I want to make sure I can hear. Shadi, can you ‑‑ I've got Shadi, I'm sorry. Fernando? Can you speak so that we know your video works ‑‑ I mean your audio works?

>> Fernando is not on yet. I'm doing the necessary, as I said.

>> ANDREA SAKS: We'll wait a few minutes to get him on.

>> Yeah.

>> ANDREA SAKS: Can he hear me or not yet?

>> He's not in the session yet.

>> LIDIA BEST: I sent an e‑mail, Luis, because Fernando sent an e‑mail to the group e‑mail. I added you to the e‑mail.

>> I have the link for Fernando. I have the link for Fernando. Can you just send to him? Okay, I will. I will copy you, Lidia, as well. Lidia Best and Fernando.

>> ANDREA SAKS: I have to use two iPhones to keep track of everybody. One sec.

>> I just sent Fernando a direct link. He should be able to join. I will leave now and join as a participant just to be sure he joins.

>> ANDREA SAKS: Thank you very much, Luis.

>> No problem. Lidia, I copied you on the mail to Fernando with the direct link. Okay?

>> ANDREA SAKS: Lidia?

>> LIDIA BEST: Oh, yes. Judith came on. Can you upgrade her to panelist ‑‑ oh, you are so fast.

>> ANDREA SAKS: Judith is on. Right. What I'm going to ask everybody ‑‑ we're going to start in a second ‑‑ is that you are certainly okay to go on with your videos. If you are speaking put your video on. Because we have so many, when we are not talking or doing that we'll ask you not to have your video on. Is that okay with everybody?

Unless you need it for lipreading. If you need it for lipreading you get to keep it on if that helps you.

Lidia, I presume you are going to stay on, correct?

>> LIDIA BEST: Yep.

>> ANDREA SAKS: Paulina, you're going to stay on, correct? Or not? She's off. Okay, fine.

Okay. Well, all right. I just want to test vocals for a second. I haven't heard Fernando speak yet. I want to be sure that we can hear you. Fernando, can you turn your mic on?

>> LIDIA BEST: Not here. Not yet.

>> He's just coming on.

>> ANDREA SAKS: I know that voice. I will say everybody say their name and pop themselves on so we can see you. We've got Christopher Lee. Can you introduce yourself saying I'm Christopher Lee?

>> CHRISTOPHER LEE: I'm Christopher Lee.

>> ANDREA SAKS: I've got you as the last speaker. I hope you don't mind.

>> Can you hear me?

>> ANDREA SAKS: Yeah. All right.

>> Andrea, can you hear me?

>> ANDREA SAKS: Yes, Fernando. I can hear you.

>> Is my video okay or still off?

>> ANDREA SAKS: We haven't seen your video yet. There you are. Oh, we see somebody else here.

>> LIDIA BEST: Your presentation, failure is always an option. Like at NASA, failure is not an option. You do the opposite. Flip it up.

>> I know. I know. I apologize for my problems here. Looks like everything is okay now.

>> ANDREA SAKS: Lidia, I'm going to ask your help on something. You know what my office is like.

>> LIDIA BEST: Okay.

>> ANDREA SAKS: I can't find the order that we decided we were going to do.

First of all, welcome, everybody, to workshop 2000 ‑‑ 202, Digital Discrimination During COVID‑19 Pandemic. That's a mouthful.

We sort of changed the order because we had a synchronization of how the subjects would work best because we have an idea of what you have ‑‑ what you are going to speak about.

This is what I can't find. Lidia has ‑‑ what you wonderfully wrote and sent to everybody, unless I can get it up really quick. Maybe you could read the order for me, please, of the speaker order.

>> LIDIA BEST: Where do you want me to get this?

>> ANDREA SAKS: You wrote it.

You wrote an e‑mail to everybody.

>> LIDIA BEST: I don't understand what you want me to do at this moment. Can you please say again.

>> ANDREA SAKS: Pull up your e‑mail or I'll have to print it. I can't find the ‑‑

>> LIDIA BEST: You want me to send ‑‑

>> ANDREA SAKS: No. I want you to ‑‑ we can do it live. I want you to read the order of the speakers for me, please.

 

>> LIDIA BEST: Okay. Hold on a second.

>> ANDREA SAKS: I might as well do it. I thought you would have it up. Just a minute. I will get it. Just a second. If you've got it faster though. Yeah, send me an e‑mail fast. I can't find it at the moment. Never mind. We were going to start with you anyway.

What I would like you all to do is when it is your turn to speak, we all have ten minutes to speak. I'm not going to speak for much longer. I would like you to turn off your videos unless it is your turn to speak so that we can serve the bandwidth. The point is the first speaker is going to be Lidia Best. The second speaker is going to be ‑‑

>> LIDIA BEST: Fernando.

Failure is always an option.

>> ANDREA SAKS: I'm sorry? Oh, thank you. Failure ‑‑ go ahead and read it out. That will be easier. You do it. Read out the list.

>> LIDIA BEST: Shadi with I just added web accessibility because Shadi usually talks about this topic. Masahito with the use of video remote interpretation during COVID‑19. Finally, wonderful wrap‑up from Christopher Lee which will be digital accessibility rights, evaluation, index presentation.

>> ANDREA SAKS: Okay.

>> LIDIA BEST: Then we will have question and answer and Andrea will do closing remarks.

>> ANDREA SAKS: As per usual. Welcome, everybody. We have 27 participants. We have a chat box which we have a wonderful remote moderator who is Judith Hellerstein. Put your face up for a second so we can see you.

>> You can see my virtual face.

>> ANDREA SAKS: That will have to do. When we come to question and answer period, Judith is in charge of the chat box. She will take your questions there. Instead of everybody jumping in.

We decided so that we had more time for people to speak and can make sure they had sufficient time we would use the time after everybody has given their presentation to have questions and answers. If you can put them in the chat box or do a raise hand then Judith will tell us who is next and what's in the chat box versus the questions. Is that okay, Judith?

>> Yes.

>> ANDREA SAKS: Thank you.

>> Are we putting questions and answers in the question and answer pod or the chat? Andrea chat is better, I think. Don't you think so?

>> Well, the question and answer pod ‑‑ that is correct, but for some reason the IGF turns off the question and answer. Our virtual host, can you turn on the raise hand feature?

>> ANDREA SAKS: That's Gabrielle and Megan.

>> Yes. The raise hand feature is off.

>> Sure.

>> ANDREA SAKS: Thank you, Gabrielle, Megan, whoever is doing it.

 

>> You can put questions in the ‑‑ see, this Q&A pod, everyone can see the questions and they can rate the questions by ‑‑ so there is a feature in the Q&A thing, a little check box, the hand, where if you think a question is really good, you could click the hand and it moves up higher on the list so that the questions that people think are the best ones get raised up higher. So if we could put your question in the Q&A pod, that would be better.

>> ANDREA SAKS: That's fine. That would be good to use that afterwards. It covers up the whole screen.

>> Well, with the Q&A pod, you can close the pod so you won't see it. But it won't disappear.

>> ANDREA SAKS: Correct. I was going to say while we are having the presentations if anybody wants to make a comment that everybody can see, and we now have 32, put them in the chat box. That would probably be the best thing to do is to put it in the chat box.

>> Comments in the chat and questions in the Q&A.

>> ANDREA SAKS: Right. But if somebody happens to put a question in the chat box, can you make sure you double check that, Judith?

>> Yes.

>> ANDREA SAKS: Thank you very much. Judith is very competent on all of this.

Anyway, I would like to introduce people and have them flesh themselves on the screen in no particular order. I'm Andrea Saks. I have been doing accessibility for a very long time. With IGF since 2008. I'm chairing this meeting with a lot of wonderful people I have known throughout the years. We have Lidia Best who is the chairman of the National Association of Deafened Persons and also is the JCA, joint coordination activity on accessibility and human factors at that time ITU.

We also have Shadi Abou‑Zahra who is basically a web expert and is also for W3C who has worked with us over the years and will be talking about web accessibility. They'll give you titles when they come.

Then we have Masahito Kawamori from Kio University, he's a professor there. He's the rapporteur for question 28, the health question, and question 26, the accessibility question in the International Telecommunications Union and he'll talk about video remote interpretation, VRI, which is basically sign language. He'll go into detail about how to do that at a distance which is particularly interesting during COVID.

Then we have Fernando Botelho. He leads the F123 initiative and that provides high performance software and training and technical support for people with disabilities. He will explain. He is basically helping blind and visually‑impaired people.

Then we have Christopher Lee who is ‑‑ do we call you a president or chairman of IAAP?

>> CHRISTOPHER LEE: Managing director.

>> ANDREA SAKS: Oh, my God. I got it wrong. That's normal.

>> CHRISTOPHER LEE: That's all right.

>> ANDREA SAKS: Managing director of IAAP. Also an associate of ‑‑ IAAP stands for the global initiative of inclusive ICTs and G3ICT ‑‑ which I never remember what that stands for. There we go. Who have I left out? Have I got everybody, Lidia? Shadi?

Anyway, we're going to start the proceedings in this manner. Each speaker will give a presentation. They have to do their own slides if they have them. Hopefully keep to a minimum ‑‑ you have ten minutes. I've got a timer, but try to stay within ten minutes. And then afterwards, we will have questions and answers for everyone and Judith will, in fact, probably run that pretty well. She'll give the questions out and we will recognize.

If you know who you want to ask a question to, please specify. Otherwise we'll let the panel choose which question they would like to answer by just saying so.

Are there any questions that anybody has on how we run this or suggestions to make it easier for you? Okay. Right.

The first speaker is Lidia Best, her title is ‑‑ Lidia, can you see?

>> LIDIA BEST: Yep.

>> ANDREA SAKS: Go ahead. The floor is yours. Give the title of your presentation, please.

>> LIDIA BEST: Okay. Thank you very much, Andrea, and thank you very much for everyone who joined the workshop to our discussion and suggestions on the way forward. Especially related to the pandemic, we are still in unfortunately.

So I would like to bring in the topic of people who have hearing loss, deaf or hard‑of‑hearing, and how they have been affected and are still affected by the pandemic.

Just to give you some idea of numbers from the UK which I am from is about 11 million people of 64 million of the population have some sort of hearing loss from mild to profound. Not everybody is going to interact with the services the same way.

But worldwide, just to give you an idea, it is approximately 65 ‑‑ over 65 years of age, maybe one‑third of them have major problems with hearing loss, disabling hearing loss.

One of the main aspects of hearing loss is individuals' ability to communicate with others. It's to a different extent depending on a person's hearing loss.

Now the majority including myself prefer face‑to‑face communications but because we can lipread. I'm sure many of you have noticed the situation with masks. Before the pandemic struck this is how many people have just gotten by with going to visit with a doctor, services and so on just by making sure we have a face‑to‑face appointment.

However, the pandemic striked and everything ‑‑ the rules of engagement have completely changed.

Everything is now online. Everything is now remotely. So the options of going and having a face‑to‑face meeting is not possible unless you are digitally aware and, you know, skilled to manage, for example, we have ‑‑ the actual webinars.

So what I would like to say is the different services have been suddenly set up online, on the websites or the telephone numbers have been given out to everyone. Please call this number and we will be able to support you. Health services as well have changed and suddenly all the telephone calls have been made not only for appointments but for actual telephone consultations with a doctor which is stressful.

Many people were not able to access it because for many different ‑‑ for using the telephone itself without lipreading and contextual cues it is sometimes not possible to conduct such important conversations with the doctor.

So what we have also as another context situation is office of national statistics in 2019 has issued an interesting report in which it shows what others over the age of 65 years are consistently ‑‑ noninternet uses. What we mean by noninternet uses, those who do not use internet at all or haven't used it for the last three months.

So hard‑of‑hearing people, deaf, people with hearing loss who don't use sign language well have been thrown out of the comfort zone to user vises or different ways of communication we were never accustomed to which has made challenges to the national association of deafened people.

We have tried to come up with training online to try to encourage them to use it.

While some people have actually got on the platforms, got on the digital services, there are still some who didn't. There are some who, for many different reasons, cannot do it. Therefore, it is very important that when we look at services provision in general we need to look at how people interact with the internet, how people interact with all the different services and provide the range of ways of contacting

For example, between the ICTs members say we have managed to give our doctor to give us e‑mail address so we can make appointments via e‑mail. Not many doctors in the local practices do that. They prefer that you call them or maybe use the online service. Not everybody is able to do this. If a person isn't able to do this, how are we going to be able to contact?

Therefore, in the updated guidance is important. We need to understand how people choose to interact. Choice is important for people with hearing loss because they interact in a specific way with other people.

For example, if someone is a decision‑maker and the service provision, local or national government we need to look at a different range of ways of being able to contact. Via SMS, set up an SMS service which provides only the message from you but doesn't give me the opportunity to respond back as a text message because it is not going to work as well. Don't ask someone immediately to make a call.

There is also a way of going beyond immediate solutions which I am showing and presenting right now. There is also a longer term solution which we need to look at. We will not stop most likely using the telephones and organizing different services via telephones.

Therefore, we need to improve telephone relay services including in the UK. But it has to be, for example, text service which we have to a limited extent in UK, a video relay service which people need to use in their language. Lastly, captioned telephones which is a service which is much easier for many older people to use than, for example, going online.

We do require for everyone to think beyond the simple, easy solution. Think about filling in all the cracks which are happening everywhere and hopefully this will make sure nobody falls behind in our planning.

So my plea to all decision‑makers or planners, think about what else you could do to ensure that everybody could be included.

Thank you.

>> ANDREA SAKS: Thank you, Lidia. It's extremely important that the deaf community, hard‑of‑hearing community is being left out in the planning that governments are doing. We'll take questions for Lidia when we get to the end of all the speakers. Thank you very much.

The next speaker is going to be Fernando Botelho who actually runs ‑‑ oops. Am I there? I don't have to be there. There we go. Gotcha. There you are. You're actually on camera now, Fernando. If you would like to explain what you do and carry on, and what title did you give regarding ‑‑ we were trying to get people to give us titles. So what title would you like to give your particular presentation?

>> The title I was using was meant to be provocative. It was "Failure is Always an Option."

Of course failure is not an option as far as our priorities or needs are concerned as persons with disabilities.

However, I wanted to highlight the fact that failure is not an option only when there is preparation and conscious effort to make sure that things work out as they should. I apologize if this was a little annoying for some people.

It's important ‑‑ I think COVID‑19 reminds us that whatever cause is not pursued with systematicity, cooperation, it rarely is achieved.

So let me just bring up a couple of facts. First of all, I don't have slides for you today. I want to have more of a bit of a conversation.

The situation of COVID‑19 has highlighted the tremendous deficiencies in the accessibility of distance learning infrastructure and content.

So if before we had challenges when people were attempting to take certain courses and even at the university level, distance learning, now we realize that when it comes to elementary school and high school, the challenge is even greater.

It's not just education, although education is incredibly important. You have other very strategic, very important services like unemployment forms online, stimulus checks and other forms of government assistance. Assistance has not been accessible in many, many cases. And we have had people facing extraordinary challenges, not just the stress level and the difficulties everyone has but in addition to that the ones that are specific to each disability.

I would like to look at this not so much as what's happening now as important as it is. We need to use these opportunities, I think, to look at accessibility more strategically.

Historically, we have faced cycles. If you look at using blindness as an example which is the area where I am most familiar with, we have had ‑‑ when mainframes on many computers were the most ‑‑ the prevalent technology in the 1960s, 1970s, they were for the most part inaccessible to the blind.

When they became accessible through the use of microcomputers, microcomputers themselves were only partially accessible ‑‑ personal computers in the 1980s.

When those were becoming more mainstream and more useable by the blind we had graphical interfaces like Windows which make them inaccessible again. We had a few years of very bad accessibility. When we finally got more equal, more levelled field in terms of accessibility, once again we lost it when everybody started focusing on the web. When that started getting better, we had the emergence of interactive pages, Ajax in the web 2.0.

Then we had, you know, almost at the same time more or less we had the emergence of smartphones as a new platform again having difficulties, particularly with Android platform.

So we have these cycles coming again and again and again. We are never ready for persons with disabilities. Just about never ready. We need to have more of a structure ‑‑ more strategic approach to this so that we don't have years of falling behind.

As we have seen with COVID‑19, digital technology today is no longer a luxury or a convenience. It is an absolute necessity. A lot of the services that are being offered online are not complementing what you might get in the physical realm like a library. They are replacing them.

So what can we do? By the way, Andrea, I had plans to set up my timer here and I forgot to turn it on. So please let me know when I'm running out of time.

So what approaches might allow us to avoid this constant cycle of accessibility and inaccessibility which leaves us behind for so long.

For example, Facebook was launched in 2004. They only had an accessibility team in 2011. That doesn't mean it became immediately accessible. There are issues to this day, but it was a gradual process. In internet time, to have seven, eight, nine, ten years of delay is absolutely unacceptable.

So what might be an approach to avoid these cycles? I think that what we can do is obviously improve education. Education of the technical people that are behind, but also policy makers that need to better understand the issues of not just accessibility, but of the digital world.

The consequences of different policies like copyright, like digital rights management ‑‑ in other words copy protection. And the implications for the objectives we all have of having a democratic society, having free speech and all that, I think policy makers are not as well‑prepared as they should be in terms of how well they understand the technology.

So education all around. Then we have regulation and delegation.

Regulation is what a lot of governments are realizing is that the internet has become incredibly important and they are looking at large influential companies online as a need for better regulation. It doesn't mean that we are going to block or cause problems for innovation. But there are day‑to‑day activities that today take place online and they need to be ‑‑ the rules need to be better understood, better enforced, better designed for this new era.

Then there is delegation. I think there is enough complexity in the technology and its interaction with the day‑to‑day activities of all of us ‑‑ those with and without disabilities ‑‑ that we cannot have a situation where any single government agency, any single private corporation or, for matter, any single association of individuals ‑‑ you know, civil society entity ‑‑ really makes all the decisions. We need to have ‑‑ in this we have an excellent model in the way internet standards were developed and continue to be developed.

A modern way of cooperating where you are including not just the technical experts, but you are including people who understand about disability, who understand about social issues, about free speech, about the limitations and this or that other right when it affects the country or the society as a whole.

We cannot have an effective design of technologies if we don't have a very good balance between all of these interests and all of these needs.

So that was a little fast for me. But for you maybe not so much. Do I have a few minutes more or should we move on?

>> ANDREA SAKS: I think probably if you would like to wrap it up in one we will be perfect. Thank you, Fernando.

>> Okay. Wonderful. Just a small correction. I am no longer leading F123. F123 was an organization that was a for‑profit company. When I registered for IGF, that was accurate. Now I have closed F123. I will be working with the disability team in UNICEF in New York. So I will continue to work with disability and technology, but now in a different position. I hope it's okay that this time around I am neither representing the private sector nor international organizations. I'm in between one and the other.

>> ANDREA SAKS: I think that's wonderful, Fernando. Congratulations on your new future. I know that you'll impact them tremendously. I think they need you in New York.

>> Thank you.

>> ANDREA SAKS: Thank you very much for your talk and what we'll do is have questions for you at the end as we will for everyone.

>> Perfect.

>> ANDREA SAKS: So I do want to ‑‑ I'm not showing myself because everybody can hear me just fine ‑‑ oh, except some people might like to lipread me. I'm sorry. I'll put myself on.

What I would like you to do is close your video, Fernando. The next person to speak is Masahito Kawamori, a professor at Kio University.

>> MASAHITO KAWAMORI: I think Shadi will go first before me. I think Shadi was planned before me.

>> ANDREA SAKS: You're correct. I did a dyslexic. Forgive me, Shadi. He's absolutely right. I'm looking at my notes and I have made a boob. Excuse me. Shadi Abou‑Zahra, would you like to put your video up? We'll be talking about web accessibility. Shadi, I don't know ‑‑ you do everything in W3C. Perhaps you would like to take the floor, explain what you do and how this impacts COVID‑19. Thank you, Shadi. Take the floor.

>> SHADI ABOU‑ZAHRA: Thank you, Andrea. Congratulations, Fernando. Great news.

So, yeah. I want to actually tie on and continue where Fernando left off. Maybe to say unfortunately failure has been an option for too long, to continue the thought Fernando had started.

So I work for the World Wide Web consortium, W3C, which is an international standards body that develops core standards for the web. So it was launched in 1994 by Tim Burners‑Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web and has been developing technology such as HTML and many more. We have heard about that. The web continues to evolve to become really the primary source of information, digital interaction. It's kind of like the interface to the internet in a way.

Mobile apps are using web technologies very often. Web services, we see now softwares that are fully web‑based where you don't even know the difference between when the desktop is and the web.

This is all good because it gives us many opportunities that were unprecedented before. There is really a huge opportunity for people with disabilities in having an accessible web.

However, unfortunately, the web is far from accessible and many studies show that. We are making progress, but we are far behind many targets that governments have set themselves that we have all pledged we are far behind. The U.N. convention on the rights of persons with disabilities, right?

So we are behind on promises and a collective understanding, a commitment to human rights. And for too many years. The Web Accessibility Initiative exists since 1999. The latest version WACAG, web content accessibility guidelines which is recognized as the international standard for web accessibility is used in the U.S., in Europe and many countries around the world. It exists since 2008. So we have had so much time and things have not been progressing to the need.

Now with COVID, we see it even more. We see how suddenly everything has moved online whereas before people said it's not a priority, we'll do it later, we'll fix it later, it's not so important. You can call us or come by if you can't access it online or something. Now, that's not an option anymore. Everything has moved online. Health care, information about life and death ‑‑ I will be dramatic and put it that way. It's really information about emergency situations, emergency about what you need to do to be safe that's often not accessible to people with different kinds of disabilities.

We have heard about people who are deaf and hard‑of‑hearing. We have heard about people who are blind, but there are many, many, more different types of disabilities. People with low vision, people with cognitive and learning disabilities, people with physical and mobility impairments. So really have a broad spectrum of accessibility. The accessibility standards address these.

Yes, they are constantly evolving. We are improving these standards as technology evolves, but there is a lot that we could have done already. Now people with disabilities are being even more excluded because now in the time of pressure we hear very often, well, we are so busy, we need to get the website up, we need to get this online course up in time and we don't really have the time or resources to focus on accessibility now.

So, again, there is this delay, exclusion where we are seeing things. The school of my nieces suddenly went online. I had a look at their online learning platform, for example. It's far from anything near accessible.

So, again, what I'm trying to say is we have had so many opportunities and we keep putting it away and we keep delaying this. And now at a time of crisis, when it should be most needed and most apparent that it is essential, it is being delayed again because there isn't time, there isn't resources. We'll fix it later. These kinds of things are continuing to exclude people with disabilities.

Now, on the upside let's propose some solutions because not only throwing problems down the road. Fernando mentioned a few that I completely concur with. I think education is one of the most important things. We still have people involved in IT and I mean throughout, be it the managers, the designers, the developers, the QA testers. All these people who were involved in IT implementation, development, research. Even content authoring do not learn about accessibility. I mean, just like architects graduating and not knowing anything about accessibility.

This is exactly why we have so many buildings are inaccessible. The same happens in IT. We have all these people involved in IT that are year‑for‑year learning the wrong things. Then we try to run behind that freight train and retrain them and tell them, no, no, no, the way you learn to do something is wrong. Here is the correct way to do it and to try to retrain them. We constantly are running behind that train rather than to have accessibility built into the mainstream education, how IT is taught from the beginning there is accessibility awareness.

But I think an even bigger point is the lack of participation of people with disabilities. Fernando mentioned that. It's a really big issue. I am a technologist focused on accessibility and standardization.

One of the most important things throughout is the involvement of people with disabilities throughout, be it in the design of products and services, be it in the standardization, be it in the policy development, all the areas that Fernando mentioned and others have talked about. All this we need people with disabilities at the table. This is also part of the U.N. convention on the rights of persons with disabilities. Nothing about this without the famous slogan of the disability movement and it's really essential, really important.

I mean, nobody would imagine the women's movement or the gender equality without women involved, right? We do have lots of discussions on disability, lots of designs without the direct involvement of people with disabilities. That creates, I think, a whole slew of problems. People try. They have good attempts, good intentions, but they don't understand the users. They don't understand the direct participants.

So I think I will leave it at that to focus on two key points really ‑‑ the advocation, including accessibility throughout education and particularly IT to make sure that people are aware of accessibility and know how to address it in all these capacities.

I mean, much of accessibility is not rocket science. Much of accessibility is feasible and standards and technologies and solutions exist already. It just needs to be implemented.

The second, which is maybe even more important, is the involvement of people with disabilities throughout. Andrea, back to you again.

>> ANDREA SAKS: Thank you, Shadi. I couldn't disagree with anything you said. Nothing about us without us. It was the deaf community that created that particular motion. Because the deaf community screamed and yelled for the Americans with Disabilities Act so long ago. They were the beginning of the change that made it possible for those of us with disabilities ‑‑ incidentally, I now get to join. I have to wear hearing aids, but I can't find them. So yell, everyone.

Anyhow, I would like to move to the next person. We will be doing ‑‑ for those of you who just joined we will be doing questions at the end.

The next person we have is Masahito Kawamori from Kio University who is a professor there and the rapporteur for question 26 and 28. His subject is the use of video remote interpretation. Masahito, can you put yourself on? Thank you.

>> MASAHITO KAWAMORI: Hi, everyone. Thank you, Andrea. Can I share my slides?

>> ANDREA SAKS: Yes, you can. Go right ahead.

>> MASAHITO KAWAMORI: There you go. My topic here is about the use of video remote interpretation during COVID‑19. As you may know, I would add to what Shadi and Fernando touched upon and I would concentrate it more on solutions or concrete examples of actually providing accessibility.

Due to the COVID‑19 pandemic, the practice of physical distancing or social distancing makes it difficult for a sign language interpreter to physically present with a deaf and hard‑of‑hearing person whenever they go to an office or government or hospital.

So it is now almost imperative and essential that remote sign language interpretation or what we call video remote interpretation, VRI, be implemented.

Many meetings including medical consultation has gone online, just as Shadi mentioned. Many schools and classes are online now. Persons with disabilities, especially deaf and hard‑of‑hearing people cannot participant fully without VRI.

In short, lack of VRI will lead to discrimination against persons with disabilities. This is against the U.N.‑CRPD as Shadi mentioned. VRI is not just for deaf and hard of hearing people. It can also be used for visually impaired persons when they want to check small things ‑‑ just very small things but very important for them.

So how does VRI actually work? This is an example that's actually implemented in Japan. So on the right‑hand side you can see a hearing person, say a doctor, and in between there is a smartphone which shows a sign language interpreter. Also on the left‑hand side you see a deaf or hard‑of‑hearing person who can be a patient visiting a doctor or talking to a teacher or parent talking to a teacher.

So this smartphone can provide VRI service with remote sign language interpreter somewhere far away. For actual implementation at ITU, international telecommunication union we have published a technical paper on web VRI, which is a guideline on how to implement a safe and secure VRI system using standards. It is expected to support telemedicine, online education, and emergency and disaster resilience and others as well. It is based on web RTC standards of W3C and IETF. W3C is the organization Shadi mentioned. It is the body that standardized web standards.

So web RTC standard can provide web‑based VRI with end‑to‑end encryption and secure communication channel which is suitable for protecting persons with disabilities when they communicate their very important personal information over the web.

Also VRI or web RTC can provide an easy‑to‑implement community‑friendly VRI. It can be web‑based, so many people find it easy to implement.

As my conclusions, I would like to say if implemented widely globally, VRI, especially web VRI will enhance communication not only for deaf and hard‑of‑hearing people, but also for visually impaired people and more so even.

VRI, along with good ICT infrastructure, should be part of the immediate plan of every nation because this is very important not only for a small number of countries ‑‑ I mean it's all important for every nation. More importantly, just as Fernando and Shadi have emphasized, the failure to do so on the other hand, especially during the COVID‑19 pandemic since it is a question of life or death will result in the discrimination against those persons with disabilities involved. So that's my conclusion. I would like to send a message that this is a very important part of accessibility and also part of UN‑CRPD. Thank you. That's all. Back to you, Andrea.

>> ANDREA SAKS: Thank you, Masahito. I'm very grateful for you to ‑‑ there you are. I can see you. We have you now in full. Thank you very much. Definitely appreciate the fact that you have explained about VRI so that the rest of the world can actually know that this exists because that is so important to communicate directly with persons with disabilities and let them be involved.

The next person ‑‑ I'm just going to keep moving because we can have an open discussion when everybody speaks. I have been taking note of the chat box. Judith is going to read some of the important issues in there and I have told people in the chat box if you want to have your comment read out, we can arrange for that also at the end.

So now we have Christopher Lee who is from G3 ICT. There you are. Christopher Lee works for ‑‑ well, actually ‑‑ I always have to ask you. Right. You're the president, right?

>> CHRISTOPHER LEE: Managing director.

>> ANDREA SAKS: I can never remember that.

>> CHRISTOPHER LEE: You can call me whatever. It's fine.

>> ANDREA SAKS: I can call you whatever. I know everybody and I can make mistakes and nobody will beat me up.

So why don't I let you identify yourself correctly and you just go right into your presentation. Thank you.

>> CHRISTOPHER LEE: Sounds good. It's excellent to be here today with this panel. Quite impressive names on this panel. I really appreciate being included.

I am Christopher Lee with G3ict which was mentioned at the beginning. We started a nonprofit organization in 2006 to support the convention on the rights for persons with disabilities. G3ict focuses on policy development and four key areas. Focus on institutional advocacy. We have events, one is enabling every year in D.C. except for this year. It was all virtual. But it's in June usually.

Then we also focus on education and certification which is what some speakers have talked about today. The importance of education specifically universities and I think Shadi brought that up as well as Fernando. There is a lot of cross‑over of what I'm going to be talking about.

The core of the presentation is really focusing from a holistic standpoint of we have a lot going on around the globe in regards to accessibility. Some of it's going well. Some isn't going so well. How do we track that? How we get kind of a pulse on what's happening regarding digital accessibility as well as the built environment. So what I'm going to be talking about is the index, a service, a product from G3ict which is the umbrella. I'm the managing director of the professionals, a division of G3ict.

When we focus on the core area Shadi mentioned it's the education piece and the certification piece. People with disabilities and people without disabilities need to know more about accessibility from the digital and the built environment. IWP focuses on the accessibility profession as a whole globally. So that gives you an idea of who we are and what we are about.

So I'm going to go through slides here. The first slide is really ‑‑ just encapsulates what's already been said. There is nothing new on the slide that the speakers haven't addressed already. We know that due to COVID‑19 digital services need to be accessible and the issues have come around in showing that they are acceptable. They have grown very quickly and expanded to the people needing access in education and the workplace. This is mobile apps, television, documents. And the index I'll dive into addresses that. We try to monitor what's going on around the globe.

The next bullet point for accessibility reasons I will go through each bullet point. We know that there is a wide range of disabilities. It was mentioned already. It's not just individuals who are blind or hearing impaired.

It is cognitive disabilities and so on. We have to make sure we include all people with disabilities into the work that we do.

We know that as has been said, solution standards exist regarding digital barriers, there is still implementation around the world that needs to be done regarding the standards and guidelines. I'll get to that in a second.

Impacts on COVID‑19 related to services across the board. It's all sector, all industry. There is not one that's left out. I think that's important to keep in mind that when we think about digital accessibility it's important that we bring people with disabilities in and make sure they are engaged in finance, health, retail, tourism. That's a challenging aspect of digital accessibility. There are so many different needs.

So the survey is the DARE index. Digital accessibility rights evaluation index making up that acronym. We just released our third version ‑‑ full version of it. It represents 137 different countries which obviously makes up 90% of the world population. The concept of the DARE index was going to advocacy groups, going to panels led by organizations with people with disabilities to get their voice to ensure that they are telling us, being G3ict through this index how the country is actually doing in regards to digital accessibility. How would you rate your country? What are the standards and guidelines in place, are they being implemented? That's the concept of the index. It is evaluating the country in itself.

So to give you a snapshot and there is a lot of data here. So what you are seeing on screen now is a grid. On this grid it focuses specifically on specific areas of the DARE index. One of them being TVs, web, E‑governance and smart cities. On the grid to explain it when people can't see it, there is no policy either. The country has no policy, no implementation. Minimum, partial, substantial and full meaning the percentages go that way.

With TV, no policy ‑‑ I'm going to snapshot a couple. 39%. At web, no policy, 42%. In regards to E‑government and small cities, you're looking at 50%. If you go across the grid regarding countries that are fully addressing policy you only have 1% in TV, 1% in web, 0% in E‑government and smart cities. I will say G3ict has a division that focuses just on smart cities and digital accessibility.

So this gives a snapshot of where we are standing now in regards to accessibility around TV, web and e‑government based on advocacy groups feeding back to us.

The next slide is focused on legislation supporting digital accessibility. We have heard already from panelists how important this is. There is legislation out there. Is it being implemented? This grid talks about general law protecting the rights of persons with disabilities being one category. Reasonable accommodations being the second category. And the legal definition of accessibility includes ICT. It's broken out to two columns. Percentage of countries, law, regulation, policy from 2018 to 2020.

So what is the difference we have seen? Just to give you an idea regarding general law protection, in 2018 we were 83%. Now based on the DARE index and the data we are getting back, we are at 89%.

Regarding reasonable accommodations defined which is important in 2018, 64%. In 2020, 68%. We have seen a little over 2% increase in two years.

And legal definition of accessibility includes ICTs, we were at 49% in 2018. We jumped in 2020 to 59% based on the feedback we got from 137 countries that came back to us regarding the data. So, again, we are seeing movement which is exciting. A lot to be done obviously based on the last slide and this slide. But there has been positive movement in the last two years regarding the data that we are collecting.

Now, regarding the next slide is the opportunity of closing the gaps in capacity to implementation. So focused on the implementation piece. You have standards, guidelines. Laws but you don't implement them. Doesn't do much good with disabilities obviously.

This grid has countries who are in the process or resources in place or countries with processes or resources in place is the key area of this. You know, different areas in the sense of process involving people with disabilities and policy‑making. We have heard about the importance of this already. 26% of that in regards to country in the process or resources in place.

The next category is ICT accessibility courses. This goes back to, I guess, universities, colleges, internal organizations that have courses whether it's a full blown course like IBM has courses for their individuals. Microsoft has courses regarding accessibility within their internal organization. Right now we are looking at 38%. ICT accessibility courses available in major universities or offered by professional education services around the country. So a combination of about 38%.

The next category is government agencies, focus points on accessibility ICT. We are at 39%. Then references to international accessibility standards, we are at 44% based on the DARE index.

So that gives you a snapshot of what we are seeing with the DARE index. I want to show you something just a second. This is my last slide. So this is priorities to build on accessibility. We talked about solutions. Shadi mentioned there are a lot of options out there we've got. The solutions have already been brought up.

But we've got to make sure momentum in ICT accessibility supporting legislation continues to be a positive trend there. We need to continue to advocate that. That's one of G3ict's goals is supporting legislation.

We have to make sure digital accessibility solutions exist. They must be made available to build an exclusive, accessible and sustainable digital world. So we know that. Key areas that we focus on obviously including people with disabilities. We have said it several times. Adopting accessibility standards. Getting countries to adopt these standards and really promoting them, making sure they know how to do it from the implementation standpoint.

What I work on with G3ict we talked about training and certification, ensuring if they are not getting it in the universities, individuals that are needing to learn about digital accessibility as well as the built environment from an architecture standpoint and so on are getting it some place. Certifying people is critical.

That gives you a little bit of the DARE index. So what I'm showing now is the website of G3ict and the country index. DARE uses a competition standard. It rates countries on how they are doing. I can put it in the chat, this particular website. If you drill down to the website it is in different languages regarding the French, Spanish, English now.

But you can actually see the different regions throughout the globe. What you're looking at now is the flags of the different countries. You can drill down on each one of the 137 countries that reported through the DARE index. Look at how they are addressing accessibility. I think it is important to see how things are shifting with the country where they were two years ago versus where they're at now.

So the bandwidth now is slow. Here we go. I'm drilling down now on South Africa and where they're at now. My time is pretty much up, but you can get a good idea of where your country is at in specific areas regarding key country facts, laws and regulations, the total DARE index score. You can look at that and where it stands and the specific areas we are pulling information from.

So with that being said, that gives you an idea of what we are doing at G3ict in regards to trying to track all the different issues that we are dealing with accessibility in the digital age right now. I'll turn it back over to you, Andrea.

>> ANDREA SAKS: Okay. Got the mic on. Thank you very much, Christopher.

What I would like to do because all of you have touched on extremely important ‑‑ I have to start my video. Okay. I'm getting instructions. What I would like to do is get a picture of everybody who was a presenter, please, on the screen. So people can see you when they ask a question. I think it is important. I don't have to be there. Thank you.

We have Lidia, Christopher, Shadi. Where's Masahito? Masahito? Where are you? There you are. Have we got everybody? Right.

Okay. Judith has been in charge of the chat box and I think some questions have come in there. There was one question in the special box, but that's difficult to manage because it covers up the screen. But can you hear me, Judith?

>> Sure. Yes. So ‑‑

>> ANDREA SAKS: Do you have any ‑‑ wait a second. Let me ask you a brief on how it might be good to do it. Oh, there is Judith. She's in charge of the questions.

Now, if anybody has a question, she's going to read it out. If you put it in the chat box she'll read it out and then if you want to select a specific person to answer it, you can by looking at the screen and saying, okay, I would like such and such to answer that.

Okay. Can we put all the other speakers back up, please, Luis?

>> Yes.

So we did have one question in the Q&A pod that Shadi answered. I just wanted to also read it out.

Mataj was asking about templates and guidelines for how to teach and educate students and programmers. Shadi answered it and gave a link to the page on the web accessibility initiative page ‑‑ W3C page and their developing curricula for designers, developers, authors and others involved in web projects.

>> ANDREA SAKS: Can we have Shadi elaborate please on the question?

>> SHADI ABOU‑ZAHRA: Sure. I mentioned very briefly we are developing open curricula. We are seeing around the world different types of courses and training with very different quality. Some of them are really good. Some of them are not so good. We often have requests by, for example, university professors will say, you know, I teach computer science to students and I would love to teach about accessibility, but I'm not an expert myself. If you can give me materials, I can include accessibility in my courses.

And so for that we are developing curricula which are modular and you can combine them to fit different kinds of training and different courses. So I provided the link. I'll read it out loud. W3.org/WAI/curricula. Thank you.

>> ANDREA SAKS: We will probably ‑‑ we will have a report later and we will put that web page in the report for you, Shadi, so that people can access you and your information. In fact, everybody will be available ‑‑ will be allowed to ‑‑ if you don't object, all the speakers can be in the report with their e‑mail addresses so people can ask direct questions.

>> We have another question. Axel asked can AI be a game changer for digital accessibility such as for screen‑reading features.

>> ANDREA SAKS: That one should go to Fernando.

>> Yes. I think AI can definitely help. It's very hard to say how far it will go in the short term. Everybody says that we'll basically have totally smart machines eventually.

But it's hard to tell how far it's going to go. We have seen, for example, self‑driving cars. They are taking longer than expected to come around and in the context of what we use, web pages and online digital documents and so forth, AI depends a lot on context.

So if you have images and that can be anything from a photograph of the galaxy to photograph of a dog it becomes more difficult than it would be for a car, for example. The car is always going to be expecting streets ‑‑ street images.

So I think, yes, it will be much more helpful initially in specific contexts. So, for example, I hope we have some AI to read us graphs. Graphs, it is a limited universe of possibilities or much more limited than, you know, anything. And I think it's an area where you could have AI helping us make things more accessible.

So I think that's going to be a much more promising area to have specific areas of interest where you have a limited universe of possibilities and then AI could definitely help us out.

>> ANDREA SAKS: I saw Shadi raise his hand. I know he wants to say something. Afterwards I'm going to ask Masahito who is in standards. Please, Shadi, you first.

>> SHADI ABOU‑ZAHRA: This is a provocative question. Thank you, Axel. Really have to respond to that.

Yes, my personal view, I think all technologies ‑‑ the more technology we have, people with disabilities rely on technologies. My wheelchair uses carbon fiber used in, I don't know, cycling ‑‑ professional cycling and professional racing because every gram I save will save my shoulders.

With AI again we have amazing opportunities to do lots of things. But at the same time like with any technology ‑‑ and I'll sound like a broken record ‑‑ without the involvement of people with disabilities, we also run a lot of risks. AI bias is one of the things that's very, very worrisome where, you know, we have seen all sorts of things like AI‑based employment systems that will actually add to exclusion rather than support inclusion because they amplify bias that's already existing in the society.

We have seen simulated cars ‑‑ thankfully only a simulation ‑‑ that would run over wheelchair users running backwards because the self‑driving car didn't recognize that situation, that scenario because there isn't enough data about people with disabilities.

So, again, like with all technologies it's a two‑edged sword.

Coming back to the point, nothing about us without us, needs the involvement of persons with disabilities to make sure we get the benefits of AI and don't have technologies that are inaccessible that we have to chase behind and retro‑fit and make accessible again.

>> I agree completely.

>> ANDREA SAKS: I think I will put the question to Masahito, please.

>> MASAHITO KAWAMORI: I totally agree with Fernando and Shadi. It is important that ‑‑ I think AI will become definitely a game‑changer as Axel asked, especially in the area of perception. Because right now I think many of the perception areas, I think AI has already surpassed some of the human capacity faculty already.

But it's still not perfect. It's not 100% accurate. So that means because humans do err, it is the same with AI. So I think it is going to be ‑‑ you know, we have to have sort of a good management as well as Shadi said, the involvement of persons with disabilities. Probably the practical way is sort of a hybrid ‑‑ human and AI. So the human can be assisted by AI technology as well as AI can be helped by human beings.

That's actually what happened with machine translation a few years ago. Many years ago. That's what's happening with, for example, captioning telephones in the United States or captioning itself, you know. Right now we are seeing it. It's not 100% automated, but it is helped by AI.

So I think it also applies, for example, to object description. So AI can be used to describe scenes, objects so that audio description can be made machine‑trained. So that's one thing that will be one of the game changers in accessibility. But I do agree that's going to be a big change. Thank you.

>> ANDREA SAKS: Thank you, Masahito. I'm going to change the subject slightly.

We've got a question from Pauline ‑‑ I'm going to say this wrong. Paulina Lewandowska. I will be corrected by Lidia. This is directed at Lidia.

Now, do you want to read this out, Judith? Have you found it?

>> Yeah.

>> ANDREA SAKS: Go ahead.

>> Okay. She asked a question ‑‑ is ‑‑

>> ANDREA SAKS: Just read the whole paragraph.

>> Okay. Her comment is that video conferencing platforms help in online meetings in school, work, social life. Some of them have automated captioning, but still they're not perfect. But the problem raises when a hard of hearing or deaf person is attending the meeting. Automated caption feature is not accessible in natural languages or they are not good. Can Lidia say more? What are the steps taken to improve automated captions by platform providers and how do you evaluate these activities in this direction?

So after Lidia goes on, I will ask Shadi to also come on because a lot of these are also what he's talking about with AI and the platforms. They directly answer that question. So, Lidia.

>> LIDIA BEST: Thank you very much, Paulina, for asking this question. I am in UK and I know I'm lucky to live in UK and lucky I'm using English language proficiently. I am able to get access to both automatic captioning as well as the professional captioners such as the ones we are just following now.

Therefore, I have much more opportunities as someone who is from Poland. I am from Poland as well as Paulina. Polish language is not as developed in the automatic captioning as, for example, English. English has always been, in a way, kind of much more moving forward, having much more developed. All the work was mostly around English language.

There are two ways of looking at it. For some people automatic captioning is useful and useable.

Especially if you've got some hearing to support themselves, they are happy.

But there are some people who are completely deaf and they have absolutely no possibility of hearing anything. When we really rely on accuracy and making sure that we actually understand and they can fully participate in the meetings.

However in UK, I can ask for captioning from a professional captioner if I need such thing.

Now, in polish language and any other languages, yes, I have come across, for example, the situations where the captioner would translate through Google into the language but the structure of Polish language isn't the same as English. It doesn't come out in the same way, for example, if a Polish speaker is speaking and to actually understand.

So there is a need to focus as well not just on automatic captioning and further developing automatic captioning to make sure that it works for everyone. But also to develop the professional services in a similar way as we have in the UK and USA with captioners who are able to support the ‑‑ provide the services.

Lastly, there is also a need ‑‑ I think it was evaluate. The question was about evaluation of the activities. At the ITU ‑‑ and Masahito will as well be able to confirm that ‑‑ we are looking at developing standards or a way of actually being able to measure how good, how accurate is captioning.

At the moment we can only go by training which is provided by captioners and having examine and this is one of the ways. But we need something completely independent so organizers of the services also get the confidence but when they are asked to provide a service, automatic or nonautomatic, they have the confidence that this will meet their needs of a person who is asking for it.

Hopefully this is what you were looking for, Paulina. Thank you.

>> Thank you so much, Lidia. Andrea wants to say one thing before we go to talk about the standards issues for Shadi and the ability of trying to train more platforms to better use AI. Andrea? You're muted.

 

>> ANDREA SAKS: Okay. I'm back. The reason why I have asked to intervene is we originally had this workshop on digital discrimination during COVID‑19 pandemic. I want to have you guys focus a little bit on that when you answer questions and the ramifications and the detriment to the many different populations. We have 2 billion people who have disabilities.

So we want to make a point of trying to give a message out to people who are managing COVID‑19 and helping everyone get through this. So that was my only point.

So if we go back to the question for Shadi, please, would you like to repeat it, Judith?

>> Yes. Thanks so much. I don't need to repeat it, but I think what we want Shadi to talk about is something he talked about a little bit before and how to get the engines better trained to look ‑‑ find different situations and learn more, get more experience in learning the different languages so they can do better on AI captions.

>> SHADI ABOU‑ZAHRA: Thanks, Judith. And thank you, Andrea, for the reminder. I think COVID is a very important aspect of this.

So there is much debate whether AI will be a revolution or evolution. We are in a transitional period right now.

Now, just to highlight, imagine that in every sentence there is a word that ‑‑ I'll just be silent. You are missing one word.

That's 90% accuracy. That means one word in a sentence of ten, every tenth word gets missed out.

Now, in a normal situation you are ‑‑ I don't know ‑‑ watching cat videos on social media, maybe that's acceptable to have, you know, some words missing and lower quality of service. But when you're talking about health hazards and risk and emergency situations such as COVID but there are many other emergency situations in terms of crisis, where that is not acceptable. Even 95% ‑‑ look at how many words we are just using now. And imagine even if you go to 99%, every hundredth word could be a really important word to understand the context and what is meant.

So I completely concur with what Lidia is saying and we should not forget there are lots of languages that have very little support for technology. Not all languages have the luxury like English does or French or Spanish or, you know, many of the other mainstream languages. There are many languages that really have very poor technology support.

So in that case, the quality goes even further down. So my feeling is that it's important to promote these technologies and promote these tools. But I think, as Masahito was saying, maybe to support the captioners. Maybe as a support tool to support the captioners and have the human combination still be in so that it reduces the effort on captioners rather than trying to switch from one to the other straight away. Because right now the quality isn't far enough but at the same time if there is no demand, no use of these technologies then also the improvement or the gap will be more difficult to address.

So there needs to be a bit of a combination and I think we need to think of the context and think of the situations where it's acceptable to have certain levels of errors and where it's definitely not acceptable if we want to be inclusive.

This, by the way, also applies to the question that Axel asked earlier about AI for image recognition and for screen readers. The same here. There will be situations where maybe it's a help and maybe it can be a long one. When screen readers started their quality was actually fairly poor. Through the use, they could improve over time. So we have to start somewhere, but at the same time we have to really understand that even small errors can have very big impact on people's lives.

>> ANDREA SAKS: I'm going to interrupt again, if I can, because talking about languages, we haven't mentioned at all sign language. Sign language is an extremely important language because every country has a different sign language.

I'm asking Matjaz who is deaf, who is in the chat box to make comments we can read out that deal with sign language and the emergency situation regarding COVID‑19. So I have given him a little project because there is enough time for him to do that.

But one of the things that's happening in Japan ‑‑ so I'm going to direct this to Masahito who has been working in Japan with sign language. I think we need to put some energy and some focus on the problems that sign language users have with regard to getting services and help, especially during COVID.

Masahito, would you do that for me, please?

>> MASAHITO KAWAMORI: Yes. Which sign ‑‑ sign language or interpretation?

>> ANDREA SAKS: My question really deals with we were talking about different languages, or Shadi was going in that direction. We haven't been talking about sign language discrimination during the time of COVID‑19.

So you've been working with this in Japan. So I wondered if you could just share with us what some of the problems are and what's not being recognized regarding sign language.

>> MASAHITO KAWAMORI: Thank you very much. Well, I think one of the discriminations that we have to realize is that on the part of the people who help persons with disabilities. Because they have a preset ‑‑ assumed, assumptions about how the deaf people would react, how the deaf people would think, things like that.

One of the things that comes from during this assumption during the COVID‑19 situation in Japan is that the sign language interpreters do not, in Japan, want to use video remote interpretation. They want to go help deaf people physically on the spot.

The problem is if they want to go to the hospital and help deaf people, hospitals refuse them. They do not allow them to be on spot. So the deaf people have to be online and talk to the doctor online, but the sign language interpreters don't know how to get online and there is no way they can do because they refuse to do so.

And that is because sign language interpreters in Japan believe that face‑to‑face sign language interpretation is the way it should go. They do not allow sign language interpreters to provide interpretation online. So that's sort of a discrimination, I think, from the part of sign language interpreters' side.

So I think it's not just sign language interpreters. Many times I think on the part of people who help ‑‑ who are supposed to help persons with disabilities have certain preconditions or assumptions about people who need help and they do not allow them to be included in the rest of the society in a sense. And they have sort of an outdated concept of disability and they think, you know, those people with disabilities should be separated, should be different. And they have special needs and those people who have been traditionally helping them are the only people who can help them, help those persons with disabilities.

This is what I learned when I tried to introduce telephone relay service in Japan and video remote interpretation in Japan. I'm still struggling. So that's ironic but true.

>> ANDREA SAKS: Thank you. I will ask Judith to read out some comments in direct relationship to what ‑‑ shall I just do it since I've got him? It's for web, for TV and other audio‑visual media, sign language needs to be ‑‑ I know where he's going. We have been talking about this and I have been working with him on a declaration between sign language interpreters and the world federation of the deaf. And there is not enough representation through web, TV and others partly because there is a different sign language in every country and not all sign languages are trained in international sign, which is not a language. It is an adaptation.

Matjaz agrees with you there is a strong use of VRI, video remote interpretation. Now there is one person who hasn't been speaking and I'm going to go after him now. That's Christopher Lee.

Would you like to interject a comment or two at this point, please?

>> Before Christopher does, one thing I think that we should state is that we need to have in those countries laws that help regulators or other people say that guarantee a certain amount of sign language or certain rights. Without that, companies are not going to do it. They say it's too expensive, this will work. We need laws and regulations in effect. Without that, you are not going to ‑‑ companies are not going to want to do it.

>> ANDREA SAKS: Thank you, Judith. I'll switch over to Christopher and remind everybody that actually I believe we have only five minutes left. Everybody has been really doing well. Christopher, please make a comment please. You have been too quiet. It's not allowed.

>> CHRISTOPHER LEE: So there's a lot of comments I want to make. Regarding cognitive disabilities when we talk about language sometimes the most simple thing you can do is deal with plain language when you're actually dealing with content. And just as we write things up, do things, it can be complicated for people with cognitive disabilities. Plain language is an easy check if we can focus on that.

Back around to digital accessibility content, we have challenges still with publishers out there in regards to digital content. Publishers that are creating content that's not accessible. It's something we really need to be focused on. You can have all the platforms you want that are accessible. But if the content itself incorporated into the platform isn't accessible, we're in trouble.

So advocacy work in this area, professional education and certification which is one of the things we are working on now. They have pivoted with certifications that will bring to the market this year and actually really kicking it off next year is an accessible document specialist which is really needed out there. It's not just for academia or K‑12, just dealing with documents within organizations and so on. How do you create accessible documents?

So I think AI can be part of that regarding imagery. But we have a long way to go in this area. It's been going on a long time and more advocacy needs to be put toward it. Those are my couple of words.

 

>> ANDREA SAKS: Thank you. We have supposedly run out of time if I look at my computer. I just want to ask the captioner would she give us five minutes to wrap up, please. She'll answer me in the chat box.

Caption First, by the way, has done our captioning and they are fabulous. Also, Luis has been doing all the help with the technical aspect from IGF, and he has been fabulous. He kept us online and has been helping us look at everybody. Yeah, we've got everybody. I want to just take an opportunity to thank everyone. The conclusions are still yet to be made.

I think what I would like all of you to do is to ‑‑ oh, wait a minute. Somebody has come in with a message. Matjaz says we propose to use the interpreters for our own sign language who are interpreting the session under another web RTC session in parallel. Also, okay, Luis says thank you. Luis Bobo is our technical help and is thanking the panelists. And we are getting thank yous from different people who have been listening. I want you to know we had over 30 people listening which is great. I thank all the people who tuned in to us.

We have gotten some good information. There will be a report on all of this. The conclusion is, in my opinion, and this is all this is worth, is that we need to do more, especially now during COVID‑19, to include persons with disabilities in fact in the messages that we sent out for radio, for TV, and all the government agencies that purport to help people during this particular critical time which is very serious for everyone, but especially for those people who don't get direct communication.

One final sentence from everybody starting with Fernando and then we'll wrap up, okay? Fernando? Wait a minute. I can't get you unmuted. I can't get ‑‑

>> Can you hear me now?

>> ANDREA SAKS: Go, go, go. You're fine.

>> My sentence is no technology can substitute for human behavior. In other words, we need to have our priorities right. We need to cooperate to get things done. Technology is not going to do that for us. Thank you.

>> ANDREA SAKS: Thank you, Fernando. Masahito? Your one sentence stretched as usual.

>> MASAHITO KAWAMORI: I would like to pick up where Christopher left off and also Shadi. I think it would be great to have sort of a standardized platform for education. I think EPUB, daisy and W3CO will have good platforms. Maybe we can work together with your organization, ITU and W3C to provide accessible educational platform, online platform for standard‑based platform for education. That's my last sentence. And proposal. Thank you.

>> ANDREA SAKS: Shadi, since he mentioned you, would you like to go next with your last comment?

>> SHADI ABOU‑ZAHRA: To respond to that and the COVID situation, now more than ever, yeah, we have been waiting long enough. And the pandemic should not be a reason to prolong the implementation of accessibility but to actually accelerate it because it is now needed more than ever.

>> ANDREA SAKS: Thank you. Christopher?

>> CHRISTOPHER LEE: Yeah. I want to say so much. I'm going to hold back. Leadership. Mentoring. We have brilliant minds out there in regards to accessibility in all areas that we have talked about today. We need to foster mentors and leaders in the area of disabilities and we need to do it soon to help with acceleration because some of these folks are moving on and retiring and it's a scary time. So my one sentence would be let's focus on leadership and mentoring also.

>> ANDREA SAKS: Thank you. Lidia, last but not least, you were first and now you get the last comment.

>> LIDIA BEST: Thank you very much, Andrea. I think everybody who has spoken before me put things in the right context. All I want to say is this: COVID‑19 has been a massive wake‑up call for everyone. Let's use this opportunity to focus our energies and move things forward and work together not just for technology, everything, but look at the combinations of it, too. I'm sure this way the human factors will come into technology when they are taken into consideration we will definitely move forward. Thank you.

>> ANDREA SAKS: And guess what. I have Judith here. I'll thank her and let her come on and read exactly what she's written about what you have just said. That's all you get to do. We have to close down. Judith, go.

>> Thank you so much for this excellent panel. If you want to hear more about these issues, accessibility is doing a webinar with Lidia on it as well as Kristen Vogler and Mark Wheatley on this issue. About Christopher Lee's point, people don't know how to make accessible pdf's and images. It's a real shame. People need to be taught. It is also a standards issue in that scanners no longer have the option to save it as a document because of copyright issues and that's a real shame.

>> ANDREA SAKS: Thank you, Judith. That's a very good point. I want to say thank you myself. It's been an excellent panel. I have enjoyed listening to everybody. It's nice not to do so much talking. From me to all of you, thank you very much. Thank you to the captioner. Thank you to everyone who joined. Thank you to Judith who has been an excellent moderator. Thank you to Paulina who has been watching as well who is our remote moderator from Poland. With that, I'm afraid we have to close.

But let's hope we can do this panel again next year at IGF. Thank you very much. And Luis, thank you for helping me learn how to get on.

I'm dyslexic and they had to train me to get on this because it was hard. Don't forget dyslexia whenever you make something for the web. Make sure that those of us with reading and writing difficulties can get on, too. Thank you.

>> Thank you, Andrea.

>> ANDREA SAKS: Oh, you're welcome. I'm waving to everybody. Everybody is waving. Listen, we'll meet again soon. I love all of you. I know all of you. It's been a real pleasure to have you on this panel. Thank you.

 

Contact Information

United Nations
Secretariat of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)

Villa Le Bocage
Palais des Nations,
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland

igf [at] un [dot] org
+41 (0) 229 173 411