14 November 2006
Secretary-General
SG/SM/10736
OBV/591
SOC/4719

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

ACCESS TO INFORMATION TECHNOLOGy CREATES OPPORTUNITY FOR ALL, ESPECIALLY PERSONS


WITH DISABILITIES, SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS IN OBSERVANCE OF DISABLED PERSONS DAY


Following is UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s message on the International Day of Disabled Persons, observed on 3 December:


The theme of this year’s observance of the International Day of Disabled Persons, “E-accessibility”, reminds us of the need to make the Internet available to everyone.


Access to information and communication technologies creates opportunities for all people, perhaps none more so than persons with disabilities.  And, as the development of the Internet and these technologies takes their needs more fully into account, the barriers of prejudice, infrastructure and inaccessible formats need no longer stand in the way of participation.


This is a welcome change.  As information and communication technologies spread across the world, drawing in more and more users every day, most websites remained inaccessible to the millions of people who have difficulty manipulating a mouse, or who are visually impaired and need a “screen reader” or large fonts to read the page.  Slowly, Governments and the private sector have been recognizing the economic and social benefits of making websites fully accessible, and have been putting in place changes involving software and hardware alike.


The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which is expected to be approved by the General Assembly later this month, can give additional impetus to this trend.  States that choose to become party to the Convention will thereby commit themselves to taking steps to provide “information intended for the general public to persons with disabilities in accessible formats and technologies appropriate to different kinds of disabilities in a timely manner and without additional cost”.  The Convention urges private businesses and mass media to do the same with their services.


On this International Day, let us pledge again to do our utmost to achieve the vision of an inclusive, people-centred, development-oriented information society.  And let us redouble our efforts to ensure that persons with disabilities can exercise their human rights and play their full part in the economic, social and political lives of their societies.


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For information media • not an official record