ICTs and disability

People with greater disabilities have much more to gain from ICTs than those with fewer disabilities

ICTs can transform the lives of those with greater disabilities far more than they can the lives of those with fewer disabilities. Global commitments to ensuring universal access have all too often failed sufficiently to address the specific needs of people with particular disabilities.The CTO is therefore committed to championing the interests of people with disabilities, seeking to ensure that they are not further disadvantaged by the increasing expansion of ICTs across the world.

In August 2012 the CTO hosted a Ministerial Summit on e-Accessibility together with the UK’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport. The summit provided a platform for delegates to discuss how countries can turn the rhetoric of their policies into practical actions that will make a difference to the lives of people with disabilities. The summit concluded with agreement around eight action points that are necessary for taking this forward:
  1. The inclusion of e-inclusion on the CHOGM agenda;
  2. Policies and practices so that people with disabilities should have equal access to ICTs and accessible information, without having to pay a premium for it;
  3. An e-inclusion champion in every Commonwealth country;
  4. An e-inclusion policy in every Commonwealth country;
  5. The sharing of examples of existing good practice in the Commonwealth and beyond;
  6. Government and business use of ICT procurement to encourage inclusive design;
  7. The Accessible Technology Charter; and
  8. Effective training programmes on e-inclusion for governments, the private sector and civil society.

Subsequently, in March 2014, Commonwealth ICT Ministers affirmed these eight principles in a formal declaration, that also affirmed that Universal Service and Access Funds can be used effectively to support all underserved people, including those with disabilities.

The CTO is excited to be working closely with member countries, and especially with Ghana and Mauritius, to take forward this agenda in practice, and welcomes the involvement of interested parties in crafting multi-stakeholder partnerships to develop effective interventions with and for people with disabilities.

One example of this was the very successful workshop on ICTs for people with disabilities in the Caribbean region convened by the CTO and the HEART initiative in Antigua in February 2015 (selected presentations and all workshop outputs).

“This event has given me new insights into disabilities, the fact that it is an eventuality and will affect us all; we therefore need to ensure planning for our future”
Victor Jones, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Public Utilities, Trinidad and Tobago commenting on the e-Accessibility Summit.

“The CTO e-Accessibility summit provided a valuable and above all tangible outcome of ideas, networking and recommendations that reflected a truly diverse and unique gathering. The event also managed to achieve a high quality programme in an atmosphere that drew from the spirit of the Paralympic Games”
Geoff Thompson MBE, Executive Chairman, Youth Charter, UK commenting on the e-Accessibility Summit.