Members of the UNESCO Chair in ICT4D and our colleagues at the Inter-Islamic Network on Information Technology (INIT) were delighted to have convened and hosted the first session on Accessibility Day (8th April) at this year’s tenth anniversary WSIS Annual Forum held in Geneva. The theme was “Digital technologies and accessibility: from rhetoric to reality”, and our session began with three short opening presentations:
Building on these inspiring presentations, participants then turned their attention to discussing what still needs to be done to turn rhetoric into reality with respect to the empowerment of people with disabilities through ICTs. This was captured in the mind map below (link to a detailed and expandable .pdf file of the mind map):
This discussion highlighted the continuing need for work in ten main areas:
- Holistic approaches
- Enabling voices of people with disabilities
- Policies and legislation
- Differentiation between universal inclusion and assistive technologies
- Training, awareness and capacity building
- Building appropriate technologies
- Delivering commitments
Working together, we can all contribute to the empowerment of people with disabilities (details of some of the UNESCO Chair in ICT4D’s activities and resources supporting people with disabilities).
Tim Unwin, our Chairholder of the UNESCO Chair in ICT4D, was recently in Macau and Shenzhen, China, in his role as a member of the Advisory Board of the United Nations University Computing and Society Institute. During this visit, colleagues at the Institute had arranged for him to participate in Teledifusão de Macau (TDM)’s prime time Talk Show with Kelsey Wilhelm. This was a great opportunity to share some of his current thinking about the interface between digital technologies and humans!
The show is now available on YouTube, and begins with an overview of the current state of ICT for development, before going on to discuss
- ways through which people with disabilities can be empowered through the use of technology,
- the importance of new technologies being inclusive, because otherwise they lead to new inequalities,
- working “with” the poorest and most marginalised rather than for them,
- the role of new technologies such as AI and blockchain in serving the interests of the rich rather than the poor,
- cyborgs and the creation of machine-humans and human-machines, and finally
- some of the ethical issues that need to be discussed if we are to balance the benefits of new technologies whilst limiting their harm.
We need much wider public debate on these issues!
Members of the UNESCO Chair in ICT4D were delighted to work with colleagues from UN ESCAP and INIT (The Inter-Islamic Network on IT) to moderate an expert meeting on inclusion and technology on 30th August 2018 on the margins of the ESCAP Regional Consultation on Inclusive Technology and Innovation Policies (28-29 August) which was held in the run-up to the ESCAP Committee on Information and Communications Technology and Science, Technology and Innovation, Second Session (29-31 August) in Bangkok. This provided a valuable forum for participants to discuss the main impediments preventing persons with disabilities in Asia and the Pacific from being empowered through technologies, and to identify priority policy actions to overcome these. It included a small number of short presentations, but most of the time was spend by participants in co-creating mind-maps around three key questions which are summarised below:
Main outputs co-created by participants