Article 21 - Freedom of expression and opinion, and access to information
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International Disability Caucus
Comments, proposals and amendments submitted electronically
to Draft Article 13
FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND OPINION, AND ACCESS TO INFORMATION
States Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure that persons with disabilities can exercise their right to freedom of expression and opinion through Braille, sign language, and other modes of communication of their choice, and to seek, receive and impart information, on an equal footing with others, including by:
EU proposal: The EU suggests the following language between “opinion” and “including by”: “through sign language, Braille and other modes and means of communication of their choice and to seek, receive and impart information, on the basis of equality”
(a) providing public information to persons with disabilities, on request, in a timely manner and without additional cost, in accessible formats and technologies of their choice, taking into account different kinds of disability;
EU Proposal: The EU suggests replacing "public" with "official”, deleting the words “of their choice”, and adding “for persons with disabilities” after “without additional cost”.
(b) accepting the use of alternative modes of communication by persons with disabilities in official interactions;
EU proposal: The EU suggests adding “and means” after “modes”.
(c) educating persons with disabilities to use alternative and augmentative communication modes;
EU proposal: The EU suggests replacing c) with the following wording: “promoting opportunities for training to use alternative communication modes and means”;
(d) undertaking and promoting the research, development and production of new technologies, including information and communication technologies, and assistive technologies, suitable for persons with disabilities;
EU Proposal: The EU suggests the following rewording; “promoting and where appropriate undertaking the research, development and production of new technologies, including information and communication technologies, and assistive technologies, suitable for persons with disabilities;”
(e) promoting other appropriate forms of assistance and support to persons with disabilities to ensure their access to information;
(f) encouraging private entities that provide services to the general public to provide information and services in accessible and usable formats for persons with disabilities;
(g) encouraging the mass media to make their services accessible to persons with disabilities.
Proposed modifications to draft Article 13
FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND OPINION, AND ACCESS TO INFORMATION
The Indian delegation seeks to indicate the concept of "freedom of thought" in both the title and the chapeau of Article 13.
The title would read: FREEDOM OF THOUGHT, EXPRESSION AND OPINION...
2(bis) States Parties shall protect the freedom of thought of persons with disabilities, including:
(a) the freddom of choice whether to consider oneself a person with disability;
(b) the feddom to adopt and hold opinion and beliefs about the experience of disability.
INTERNATIONAL DISABILITY CAUCUS
- Information sheet
The IDC would like to emphasize that draft article 13 of the Working Group Text seems to focus on issues related to access to information and less on the other aspects of the right to freedom of expression and opinion. We call on delegations to include g aspects of the ICCPR which references elements of freedom of expression and thought in the chapeau and body of article 13.
Why sign languages should be recognized in national legislation
Sign languages are not a method or mode of communication; they are natural languages with their own grammatical structure. To date, 30 countries have recognized sign languages in their national legislations. Most recently, the Government of New Zealand has introduced a Sign Language Bill which should come into force in mid 2005. Acknowledgment of Sign languages as real languages comes from serious difficulties for Deaf people to access government services leading to injustices being experienced by our colleagues. For example, Deaf people reported being denied the use of interpreters in courts leading to a lack of access to justice. In medical settings, the denied use of interpreters may lead to risks of misdiagnosis and lack of informed consent. Furthermore, because sign languages are not recognized on a legislative level, the majority of Deaf children are denied the use of Sign language and cannot receive education in their own language. This results in Deaf children being excluded from education, a fundamental human right.
Why we need to specifically identify Braille in the Convention
Braille is the primary literacy medium for Blind and Deafblind people and is the only mode of communication used for writing and reading. As technology continues to develop alternative modes of communication, Braille will remain fundamental for reading and writing for Blind, Deafblind and partially sighted people. For example, in one’s own home, a Blind person uses Braille to mark their spice tins; a practical need that cannot be replaced by technology. For the non-visually impaired community, the idea of removing written text as technology develops would never be supported by society. Therefore, why should it be proposed to remove the script for Blind persons in the case of Braille and replace it with sound technology? Moreover, for Deafblind people, sound technology cannot replace Braille. No country has so far recognized Braille as the legal script for blind persons in their national legislations.
What is augmentative and alternative communication and why it is important
Some persons cannot communicate by speaking or writing because of a physical (e.g. cerebral palsy) or intellectual disability. Our colleagues use augmentative or alternative communication which may include a communication assistant, communication boards, assistive technology or any combination of these modes. This is what enables our colleagues to communicate and, therefore, is essential for the realization of their human rights.
- Draft proposal
1. States parties shall take appropriate actions to ensure that:
(a) all persons with disabilities enjoy the same freedom of expression, thoughts and opinion as that enjoyed by others;
(b) persons with disabilities can exercise their right to freedom of expression, thoughts and opinion through languages, scripts, modes, means and formats of communication of their choice, including but not limited to sign languages, tactile communication techniques, captioning, plain and easily understood texts, large print, Braille and augmentative and alternative communication, in order to seek, receive and impart information on the basis of equality with others;
2. States parties shall take actions to:
(a) accept and promote the use of a variety of languages and modes and means of communication by persons with disabilities in official interactions in order to seek, receive, impart and access information and enable persons with disabilities to communicate on an equal basis as others;
(b) provide training of assistants, intermediaries, interpreters, such as sign language and tactile communication interpreters, note takers, readers and augmentative and alternative communication assistants, to ensure that persons with disabilities have access to information and the facility to communicate;
(c) officially recognise national sign languages in legislation to guarantee linguistic rights for all deaf persons, and to ensure communication with their families, immediate community and the general public;.
3. States parties shall protect the freedom of thought of persons with disabilities, including:
(a) the freedom of choice whether to consider oneself a person with a disability;
(b) the freedom to adopt and hold opinions and beliefs about the experience of disability;
(c) the freedom to choose practices of support for well-being, based on personal thoughts, opinions and beliefs;
(d) the freedom from coercion that interferes with the capacity to freely produce or sustain thought.
- Plenary intervention on access to information
February 3 2005, Kicki Nordström, World Blind Union
Thanks Mr. Chair,
On behalf of the International Disability Caucus (IDC) I will address the issue on access to information as an obligation and a responsibility also for the private sector.
To exclude obligations for the private sector for providing their information in an accessible format is the same as to exclude persons with disabilities from almost all kind of public information.
I am sure you wish to keep an obligation for pharmacy companies to label their products with warning texts that the medicine should be kept away from children. However if there is no obligation for the private sector to make their information accessible for persons with disabilities, we will never have access to such information.
On one hand you have already demanded the private sector to inform the general public of their products, but on the other hand you have limited this obligation by excluding persons with disabilities.
Why put criteria and obligations on companies, demanding them to making information known to the general public, which does not apply to Persons with disabilities?
What you have done now in Article 13, is to exclude obligations for the private sector to not making their information accessible for persons with disabilities, and the result will be equal to excluding persons with disabilities from important public information for ever!
Taking into account that more and more public services targeting the general public are now being handling over from governments to the private sector, we expect from you that you also accompany this transition with obligations for making their public services accessible for all, including persons with disabilities.
If this obligation is not included in the transition you will as a result, end up by building in a discriminating factor in this convention.
I hope this is not your intention?!