Back to: International Day of Disabled Persons 2006
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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 communications 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 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.