ICTs can transform the lives of those with greater disabilities far more than they can the lives of those with fewer disabilities. However, global commitments to ensuring universal access have all too often failed sufficiently to address the specific needs of people with particular disabilities.
This site has therefore been developed by Tim Unwin (UNESCO Chair in ICT4D) to provide ready access to information and support in the use of ICTs by people with disabilities.
The Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation
When I was Secretary General of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation between 2011 and 2015, I championed ways through which people with disabilities can be empowered through the use of ICTs. Some of the activities that we undertook were
- 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:
- The inclusion of e-inclusion on the CHOGM agenda;
- 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;
- An e-inclusion champion in every Commonwealth country;
- An e-inclusion policy in every Commonwealth country;
- The sharing of examples of existing good practice in the Commonwealth and beyond;
- Government and business use of ICT procurement to encourage inclusive design;
- The Accessible Technology Charter; and
- 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.
- One example of the CTO’s work 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).
Some of my relevant publications
- Unwin, T. (2011) ICTs and disability in the Commonwealth, in Commonwealth Ministers Reference Book 2011, London: Commonwealth Secretariat, 226-229.
- Godfred Bonnah Nkansah and Tim Unwin (2010) The contribution of ICTs to the delivery of special educational needs in Ghana: practices and potential, Information Technology for Development, 16(3), 191-211.
- Unwin, T. (2005) Reflections on ability: the use of ICTs to support people with disabilities in poor countries, in: Milward-Oliver, G. (ed.), Maitland+20 – Fixing the Missing Link, Bradford on Avon: Anima, 165-180 (also published in Japanese by the ITU Association of Japan, 2006, 109-118 )
- Disabled World – launched in 2014 to provide an international online community for people with disabilities
- UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
- WHO International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF)