Development and human rights for all

United Nations Expert Group Meeting on Building Inclusive Society and Development through Promoting ICT Accessibility: Emerging Issues and Trends (Tokyo Japan, 19-21 April 2012)


Background Note

I. Introduction

In view of United Nations General Assembly resolutions 63/150 and 65/186, which call upon States to ”…ensur[e] accessibility and reasonable accommodation to enable persons with disabilities to realize their right to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life, as well as to be agents and beneficiaries of development”,  the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat (DESA) and the United Nations Information Center (UNIC) in close collaboration with the Nippon Foundation of Japan, will organize a three-day “Expert Group meeting on Building Inclusive Society and Development through Promoting Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Accessibility: Emerging Issues and Trends ”, to be held at the United Nations Information Center in Tokyo, Japan  from 19 to 21 April, 2012.

The Expert Group Meeting aims to promote greater awareness of accessibility and ICT accessibility in particular; promote policy and practices that facilitate the social inclusion and advancement of persons with disabilities in development through ICT accessibility, including in emergencies and natural disasters; and to identify good practices and innovative approaches to advance ICT accessibility as well as promote traditional human resources intensive solutions such as sign language and subtitling as means to further inclusive development for all.  Following the Expert Group Meeting, the Nippon Foundation, in partnership with civil society in Japan, will hold a half day International Forum to share and further discuss the outcome of the Expert Group Meeting with national and local policy makers, professionals and experts in Japan.  

Cooperative Partners

Japan has been a leading country in protecting and promoting the rights and equal opportunities for persons with disabilities. Under its leadership and initiatives, Member States in the Asia and Pacific region declared two regional Decades of Disabled Persons from 1993 to 2002 and from 2003 to 2012, both of prioritize issues of accessibility, particularly in the field of information and communication as well as ICT.  The Government of Japan also contributes greatly to the capacity building of regional organizations of persons with disabilities through support to the Asian and Pacific Center on Disability (APCD).  Japan supported the successful convening of the 2005 World Conference on Disaster Reduction held in Kobe and its outcome, Hyogo Framework for Action (2005-2015), which calls for a holistic approach towards disaster risk reduction and preparedness and emphasizes equal access to information, food and non-food relief supplies, risk reduction training and educational opportunities for vulnerable groups, including persons with disabilities, within populations affected by disasters.

The Nippon Foundation has long been active in promoting social inclusion and the empowerment of persons with disabilities, as well as their equal access to participate in society and development. The Foundation has contributed to many global and regional initiatives concerning equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities including through ensuring access to information and promoting ICT accessibility.

II. Scope and objectives of the meeting

The Expert Group Meeting will provide a forum for intensive exchanges of knowledge and experience relating to norms and standards, institutional arrangements, governance, technologies and actual practice related to accessibility and reasonable accommodation in the information and communication technologies (ICT).  Special attention will be directed to ICT accessibility and the inclusion of persons with disabilities in disaster and emergency preparedness and responses, particularly in the context of developing countries.  Universal design will be accorded special attention in the review and analysis of issues, trends and priorities for action in promoting accessibility as a means and goal of development.
 
Meeting objectives will be pursued by means of select presentations and round-table discussions of issues, trends, key concepts and practical methods of planning, design and evaluation of accessible environments in countries.  Group work will focus on examination of (1)status and  policy frameworks concerning ICT accessibility in key areas such as telephony, television, internet , electronic service appliances and services, including in situations of natural disaster and emergency management, (2) identification of innovative approaches and promising practices in addressing challenges encountered; and (3)  recommendations on priority areas for strategic action to be taken by different stakeholders at national and international levels with aims to advance ICT accessibility and inclusive development for all.

III. Expected outcomes

Meeting participants are expected to produce: (1) a select set of “exemplary practices and experiences” in promoting ICT accessibility and advancement of persons with disabilities in the context of development and aspects of social life ; (2) options and recommendations for advancing ICT accessibility in terms of both policy regulations and technical standards and application; (3) options to strengthen national capacities in advancing ICT accessibility and disability inclusive development in general; and (4) recommendations for raising awareness and further promoting ICT accessibility and inclusion of persons with disability in natural disaster and emergency response and management; and (5) recommendations to facilitate increased exchanges of knowledge and experience on accessibility, such as through an internet-enabled “global community of practice on accessibility”.
 
Meeting findings and recommendations are expected to (1) contribute to the current global discourse and strategies on disability and development, especially the preparatory process for the 2013 United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Disability and Development, which will focus on the realization of internationally-agreed development goals for persons with disabilities and building an inclusive and accessible society and development for all; (2) further raise awareness and enrich the global body of knowledge concerning accessibility in the context of development, (3) contribute to increased coordination and cooperation among concerned stakeholders– governmental, academic and non-governmental as well as the private sector – for practical action concerning accessible environments and inclusive development, and (4)  inspire increased funding for the building of national capacities for catalytic, innovative, cost-effective and sustainable approaches to accessibility in the context of development.

IV. International and regional frameworks on accessibility and development

Accessibility has been a major policy objective of the global policy discourse and international normative frameworks concerning the advancement of persons with disabilities and development since the 1990s.

In the late 1990s, the United Nations General Assembly began to identify accessibility as a specific priority in policies and programmes to further equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities in the context of development.  Following the General Assembly’s adoption of the Standard Rules on Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities in 1993, and the five-year review and appraisal of the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons (1982) in 1997, 2002 and 2007, accessibility has been clearly identified as both a means to achieve and a goal of disability-inclusive development by the General Assembly resolutions on this issue.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2006 strengthened the international normative framework for advancement of the rights of persons with disabilities.  Following the entry into force of the Convention in May 2008, the General Assembly, through a series of resolutions (63/150, 64/145 and 65/186), reaffirmed “the need to include and integrate the rights, well-being and perspective of persons with disabilities in development efforts at the national, regional and international levels, without which the internationally agreed development goals, in particular the Millennium Development Goals, will not be genuinely achieved.”  In its resolution 63/150, the General Assembly further encouraged States to ensure “accessibility and reasonable accommodation to enable persons with disabilities to realize their right to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life, as well as to be agents and beneficiaries of development.”
 
In the Asia and the Pacific region, the Biwako Millennium Framework (BMF) and Biwako plus Five attach importance to and designate ICT accessibility as one of seven priority areas. These two regional policy frameworks were adopted in 2003 and 2007 respectively as the result of leadership of Japan in partnerships of other key States, UN entities, as well as disability organizations in the region. Many initiatives have been taken under these frameworks to enhance ICT accessibility and to promote accessible and inclusive development for all that includes persons with disabilities in Japan and across the region. 

V. Meeting activities

The meeting will include the following activities to achieve its objectives:

  1. A review and discussion of the status and current trends in terms of policy frameworks, technical standards and practices on ground;
  2. Concurrent subgroup discussions focused on the policy environment and technical advancements in ICT accessibility, as well as relevant challenges and opportunities encountered in situations of natural disasters and emergencies response and management;
  3. A special session on ICT accessibility in natural disaster and emergencies;
  4. A review and discussion of catalytic and innovative examples to promote increased awareness and support for accessibility with reasonable accommodation in the fields of information and communications technologies, including in the situations of natural disasters and emergencies;
  5. The formulation of a set of concrete recommendations for strategic and practical actions focused on building and strengthening national capacities and empowering constituencies for ICT accessibility and inclusion and advancement of persons with disabilities in the context of development towards information society for all. 

VI. Organization and participation

The Expert Group Meeting will be held in Japan at the Nippon Foundation from 19 to 21 April 2012. Approximately 25 experts, representing all regions, have been invited to participate in the meeting in their individual capacities.  Invited experts are expected to contribute a brief participation paper or set of speaking points on accessibility issues and trends in their respective area of expertise. Other invited representatives of United Nations agencies and organizations, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations and academic institutions will be able participate as observers.
On 21 April 2012, following the Expert Group Meeting, the Nippon Foundation, in partnership with civil society in Japan, will hold a half day International Forum to share and further discuss the outcome of the Expert Group Meeting with national and local policy makers, professionals and experts in Japan.

VI. Language of meeting documentation and proceedings

The working language of the meeting is English. Pre- and in-session meeting documentation will be provided in English in accessible formats, through Internet-enabled resources or both.


 

Photographs


 

Papers Received

Experts 

Clinton Rapley (United States/Thailand) 
Director of Planning Services
Associates for Intl Management Services
 
Donal Rice (Ireland)
Researcher
National University of Ireland at Galway
 
Hiroshi Kawamura (Japan)
Former President
DAISY (Digital Accessible Information System) Consortium
 
HuiPing Cui (China)
Director
Information Centre, China Disabled Persons’ Federation
 
Axel Leblois (France) 1 | 2 | 3
Executive Director,
G3ict - The Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs
 
Cid Torquato (Brazil) 1 | 2
Coordinator
Sao Paolo State Secretariat for Promoting the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
 
Aqeel Qureshi (India)
Second Vice President
Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments (GAATES)
John Kemp(United States)
Chairman 
Abilities!
 
David Banes (Qatar)
Managing director
MADA
 
Lawrence F Campbell (United States)
International Council for Education of People with visual impairment
 
Toshio Obi (Japan)
Director
Institute of e-Government, Waseda University
 
Jutta Trevinarus (Canada) 1 | 2
Director,
Inclusive Design Research Centre, OCAD University
 
Dipendra Manocha (India) 1 | 2 | 3 | 4
Managing Trustee
Saksham Trust
 
Phosa Mashangoane (South Africa) 1 | 2 | 3
Managing director
Customer Affairs, Independent Communications Authority of South Africa
 
Claudio Giugliemma (Switzerland)
Chairman
LucyTech and Dominic Foundation
 
Wisit Atipayakoon (ITU) 1 | 2
International Telecommunication Union, Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific
 
Helena Molin Valdes (UNISDR)   Message
Director
United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction
 
Takayuki Ito (Japan) 1 | 2
NHK
 
Marcie Roth (United States)
Director, Office of Disability Integration and Coordination
Federal Emergency Management Agency
 
Gerald Oriol Jr. (Haiti)
Secretary of State
Office of the Secretariat of State for the Integration of People with Disabilities
 
Benjamin Dard
Accessibility officer
Christian Blind Mission Haiti Office
 
Jo Matsuzaki (Japan)
Associate Professor, Miyagi University of Education Faculty of Education
 
William Curtis-Davidson (United States) 1 | 2 | 3
IBM Research, Human Ability & Accessibility Center           

Shinji I.Case study: why private sector is lagging behind in promoting web accessibility”, IBM Japan

Observers

Milton Seigui Oshiro (Brazil)
Head of bioengineering, Lucy Montoro Institute of Physical Medicine, University of Sao Paolo
 
Wang Can (China)
Associate Professor
ICT accessibility research Center, Zhejiang University
 
Anatoly Popko (Russia) 1 | 2
Head
Information Technology Department, All-Russian Society of the Blind
 
Cucu Saidah (Indonesia)
Project Manager
Access to Mobility Aids for Handicap International
 
Soya Mori (Japan) 1 | 2 | 3
Senior Research Fellow & Deputy Director,
Poverty Alleviation and Social Development Studies Group, Development Studies Center
 
Yuki Matsuoka (Japan)
Programme Officer
UNISDR Office in Japan
 
Nagase Osamu (Japan)
Special Visiting Professor
Ritsumeikan University
 
Maki Uehara (Japan)
Global Issues Cooperation Division
International Cooperation Bureau, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
 
Hideo Watanabe (Japan)
IBM Japan
 
Tomoko  Sakota (Japan)
NHK
 
Katsunori Fuji (Japan) 1 | 2
President
Japanese Disability Forum
 
Tsunenari Yamasaki (Japan) 1 | 2
Program Director
Tokyo Broadcasting System

United Nations

Akiko Ito 1 | 2
Chief
Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Department of Economic and Social Affairs

Guozhong Zhang
Social Affairs Officer
Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Department of Economic and Social Affairs

United Nations Information Center in Tokyo

Mari Yamashita 
Director
United Nations Information Center in Tokyo

Yohei Sasakawa
The Nippon Foundation
Chairman
The Nippon Foundation

Yasunobu Ishii
Chief Manager of International Program
The Nippon Foundation