Accessible Americas: Information and Communication for ALL is a landmark event aimed at identifying accessibility implementation practices for stakeholders in the Americas Region. Held in Sao Paolo from the 12 – 14 November 2014, the focus will be on how these stakeholders can ensure that assistive technology and accessible Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) are widely available and affordable for Persons with Disabilities. This event will further highlight the importance of ICTs as a tool to empower Persons with Disabilities, emphasizing that through cooperation, capacity building and the development of policies and strategies it is possible to remove barriers and enable social inclusion.
According to the World Bank, in the Latin America & Caribbean Region, there are at least 50 million Persons with Disabilities. Disability is also considered an important cause and consequence of poverty. Therefore, it is essential to identify what roles and actions stakeholders should take to define strategies and implement policies, regulations and industry codes of conduct aimed at promoting the equal inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in the Information and Knowledge Society.
Those who play an important role in developing accessibility features in ICTs include governments, private sector, academia, civil society as well as the international community at large. As reflected in Article 9 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Dubai Action Plan agreed at the 2014 ITU World Telecommunication Development Conference, accessibility is about eliminating barriers faced by persons with disabilities in using ICT services and equipment.
The city of São Paulo welcomes the “Accessible Americas: Information and Communication for ALL” event, which embodies its Municipal Plan of Actions linked to People with Disabilities. The ‘São Paulo More Inclusive’ project has accessibility as one of its five axes, defined as “interventions to environmental attributes, related to Person with Disabilities to promote equality of opportunities with autonomy on the access to information, mobility, procedures implementation and participation of activities carried out by different areas and different spaces.”
In this sense, digital inclusion should contribute to integration and inclusion of all people, promoting access to education, work, culture, information and communication, leisure and to community life. The Human Rights Secretariat of the Brazilian Presidential Cabinet considers that People with Disabilities’ challenge of digital inclusion should be treated under the prism of product development seeking to promote the functionality related to activity and participation of Persons with Disabilities.
Furthermore, ICTs should be considered as a key element for the promotion of human rights, whereby Persons with Disabilities, the elderly and other people with permanent or temporary “reduced mobility” have the opportunity to achieve independence in all aspects of their lives.
This is why an event like ‘Accessible Americas: Information and Communication for ALL’ is of tremendous value as it proposes to discuss the role that ICTs have to facilitate the full and autonomous participation of Persons with Disabilities in all aspects of economic and social development. As a partnership between the Government of the City of São Paulo, the Brazilian Federal Government, UNESCO, and ITU, the event is mobilizing governments and other stakeholders to promote ICT accessibility. Its focus will be on supporting a regional disability-inclusive development agenda that will contribute to the emerging post-2015 global development agenda by treating ICT accessibility for Persons with Disabilities as a cross-cutting development issue.
To ensure continued dialogue, outcomes of the event will feed into to the subsequent international conference ‘From Exclusion to Empowerment: The Role of ICTs for Persons with Disabilities’ to be held by UNESCO in New Delhi, India, from 24 to 27 November 2014.
For more information on the ‘Accessible Americas: Information and Communication for ALL’ event please visit: http://www.itu.int/en/ITU-D/Regional-Presence/Americas/Pages/EVENTS/2014/1112-BR-Accssblty.aspx