United Nations Accessiblity and Assistive Technology


The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was adopted in December 2006 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, and was opened for signature in March 2007. There were 82 country signatories to the Convention. This is the highest number of signatories in history to a UN Convention on its opening day. It is the first comprehensive human rights treaty of the 21st century. The Convention entered into force in May 2008.

The Convention follows decades of work by the UN to change attitudes and approaches to persons with disabilities. It takes to a new height the movement from viewing persons with disabilities as “objects” of charity, medical treatment and social protection towards viewing persons with disabilities as “subjects” with rights, who are capable of claiming those rights and making decisions for their lives based on their free and informed consent as well as being active members of society.

The Convention is intended as a human rights instrument with an explicit, social development dimension. It adopts a broad categorization of persons with disabilities and reaffirms that all persons with all types of disabilities must enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms. It clarifies and qualifies how all categories of rights apply to persons with disabilities and identifies areas where adaptations have to be made for persons with disabilities to effectively exercise their rights and areas where their rights have been violated, and where protection of rights must be reinforced.

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To date, about one billion people live with some form of disability. Persons with disabilities tend to be acutely vulnerable to exclusion and are disproportionately poor. Furthermore, there are an estimated 150 million children in the world with disabilities, of which about four-fifths of them live in developing countries, and millions more live with parents or relatives with disabilities. No society can ignore such a massive number of people nor leave them on their own.

The CRPD is also a response to the fact that the potential of persons with disabilities was not being tapped. Persons with disabilities who continued to be denied their human rights were kept on the margins of society in all parts of the world. In addition, they felt that they had very little to say in plans and programs that were supposedly created for their welfare, and for the improvement of their conditions. The CRPD sets out the legal obligations of countries to promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities.

Since it was officially enacted the CRPD has continued to maintain its momentum to attract agreement and support. This is due in no small measure to the innovativeness that it promotes the interdependence of all human rights. As of July 2012, there were 153 country signatories, and 117 country ratifications.

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Virtually all aspects of society are affected by the pervasive usage of information and communication technologies (ICT), including mobile communications, television, computers, digital interfaces and the Internet.

To know how much progress is actually being made by countries in ICT accessibility a second edition of the CRPD Progress Report on Accessibility in Information and Communication Technologies has been published.

It reviews and rates the status of ICT accessibility and assistive technologies regarding CRPD implementations in 52 ratifying countries, which represents 77 percent of the world population. This comprehensive report offers disability advocates, governments, civil society and international organizations monitoring the progress of the implementation of the CRPD a unique benchmarking tool with data on country laws, policies and programs pertaining to accessible and assistive ICT around the globe.

The Progress Report is produced by G3ict (a Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies—an Advocacy Initiative of the the United Nations Global Alliance for ICT) in cooperation with Disabled Peoples’ International (DPI) and various disability centric organizations and experts in countries where DPI correspondents were not available.

Implementing ICT accessibility policies and programs is a complex endeavor involving multiple sectors of society and the economy, and requires the active engagement of a variety of participants. It’s an essential step for all stakeholders in order to address gaps and opportunities in their own countries.

Articles in the Joe Mantegna Issue; Senator Harkin — US Budget Must Reflect Our Values; Ashley Fiolek — A Concussion Tests Her Ability; Humor — All in the Family; Web Widget — Accessibility Works; Chinese Art — Raw Beauty of the Innocents; Geri’s — Survivor Guide; Golf Pro — One Arm, Limitless Possibilities; Road Trip — MS Changes a Biker’s Course; Charlie Kimball — Racing Against Diabetes; Joe Mantegna — When Life Flips the Script; Nancy Alspaugh-Jackson — Crusader For Autism; DRLC — Beware Genetic Discrimination; Betsy Valnes — Connect the Dots in Disability Circles; ABILITY’s Crossword Puzzle; CRPD — Information and Communication Technologies; Events and Conferences…


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