2019 World Autism Awareness Day observance: "Assistive Technologies, Active Participation"

Thursday, 2 April 2019
Economic and Social Council Chamber, United Nations Headquarters

Download the programme PDF document

In September 2018, the UN Secretary-General launched a new Strategy on New Technologies, which aims to define how the United Nations system will support the use of these technologies to accelerate the achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. The Strategy is also intended to facilitate the alignment of these technologies with the values enshrined in the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the norms and standards of International Law, including the CRPD and other human rights conventions. These values include equality and equity, inclusion and transparency. Design and use of new technologies, according to the Strategy, should be guided by a rights-based and ethical perspective.

In the context of the Secretary-General’s Strategy, the 2019 World Autism Awareness Day observance at UN Headquarters in New York focused on leveraging the use of assistive technologies for persons with autism as a tool in removing the barriers to their full social, economic and political participation in society, and in promoting equality, equity and inclusion. Topics to be addressed through discussions with self-advocates and experts included:

  • The Internet and digital communities: Leveling the playing field
  • Independent living: Smart home technology and more
  • Education and employment: Communication and executive functioning
  • Telemedicine: Opening the doors to healthcare
  • The right to be heard: Political participation and advocacy

The 2019 observance of the Day at UN Headquarters was organized by the UN Department of Global Communications and Department of Economic and Social Affairs, in close cooperation with persons with autism and their representative organizations.

Below you will find videos of all the statements and panel discussions at the event:

10:00 a.m.   Welcome and Opening

  • Alison Smale, Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications, United Nations
  • Message of the Secretary-General of the United Nations
  • H.E. Ms. María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, President of the UN General Assembly

10:10 a.m.   Keynote Address

  • Moderator: David James Savarese, documentary filmmaker, Open Society Foundations Human Rights Initiative Youth Fellow

10:30 a.m.   Communication: A Human Right

  • Introduction to Panels
  • Maher Nasser, Director, Outreach Division, Department of Global Communications, UN
  • Communication: A Human Right
  • Moderator: Elaine Hall, Founder, the Miracle Project
  • Ryan Berman, Communication Partner
  • Dr. Julia Ejiogu, Clinical Director, The Zeebah Foundation, Abuja, Nigeria
  • Neal Katz, self-advocate and Community Teacher, UCLA
  • Noor Pervez, Community Engagement Coordinator, Autistic Self Advocacy Network
  • Ernesto Reaño, Director, Psicólogo Clínico, Lingüista, Peru
  • Video: Ido Kedar, self-advocate, university student and author

11:10 a.m.   Communication: Technology and Training

  • Moderator: Elaine Hall, Founder, the Miracle Project
  • Darlene Hanson, Director of Communication Services, REACH
  • Michael Huang, Founder, Uplus Academy, Nanjing, China
  • Chloe Rothschild, self-advocate, national speaker and Member of the Board, The Arc U.S
  • Video: Soma Mukhopahyay, Founder, HALO Clinic
  • Video: Tito Rajarshi Mukhopadhyay, self-advocate and author
  • Statement by Payam, self-advocate

11:45 a.m.   Independent Living

  • Moderator: Ramu Damodaran, Deputy Director, Outreach Division, DGC, UN
  • Finn Gardiner, Communications Coordinator, Lurie Institute for Disability Policy at Brandeis University’s Heller School for Social Policy, and Policy Fellow, Autistic Self Advocacy Network
  • Tom Iland, self-advocate, author, presenter and consultant
  • Sangeeta Jain, Joint Secretary, SOREM, India
  • Judy Mark, Faculty Member, Disability Studies Department, UCLA
  • Remi Tetot, Founder, Autism Stories, Cayman Islands
  • Video: UCLA Disability Inclusion Lab

12:20 a.m.   Tools: Telemedicine, Learning, etc.

  • Moderator: Jeffrey Brez, Chief, Civil Society, Advocacy and Special Events, OD/DGC, UN
  • Rachel Barcellona, self-advocate, Miss Florida International 2016 and Board Member, University of South Florida Center for Autism
  • Archibald Brechin, self-advocate and Outreach Associate, Global Autism Project
  • Molly Ola Pinney, Founder and CEO, Global Autism Project
  • Pooja Panesar, Board Certified Behaviour Analyst, Kaizora Centre for Neurodevelopmental Therapies, Kenya
  • Veysel Sahin, President, Autism Federation of Turkey
  • Video: Marrok Sedgwick, educator and consultant for special education, non-speaking autistic self-advocate, and Creative Producer of Experimental Documentary Media, Fearless Minds Theatrical

12:55 a.m.   Concluding Remarks

  • Maria-Francesca Spatolisano, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination, UN
  • The event is organized by the United Nations Department of Global Communication and Department of Economic and Social Affairs
  • Co-sponsored by the Permanent Missions of Argentina, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan and Poland

Download the programme PDF document