[Athen] 2006 International Day of Disabled Persons will be E-Accessibility

Stewart, Ron ron.stewart at oregonstate.edu
Mon Jul 31 06:22:19 PDT 2006

Information from Disabled People International http://v1.dpi.org/lang-en/index

This week, the United Nations announced the theme for the 2006 celebration of International Day of Disabled Persons. This year´s December 3rd celebrations will focus on "E-Accessibility" - improving access to new information technology for persons with disabilities.

While access to information and communication technology has created opportunities for everyone, many persons with disabilities are unable to take full advantage of the Internet, thanks to inaccessible designs, formats, and training venues.

Since we live in a world that increasingly relies on access to information technology, this is an important issue for the international community of people with disabilities, and we are excited to see it highlighted for this year´s IDDP. For more information on this development, you can read the Media Advisory in this week´s additions to the DPI website (available in English only), or visit the UN Enable website at http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/disiddp.htm, or contact the UN at bellando at un.org. (see text below)

On a related note, the theme for the next issue of our quarterly publication, Disability International, is technology and people with disabilities. It will be released in mid-August. Please contact DPI Headquarters in order to obtain a copy of the technology-themed Disability International, or to order a subscription.


Information provided by Disabled People International E-Accessibility to be theme for International Day of Disabled Persons 2006:

E-Accessibility to be theme for International Day of Disabled Persons 2006

UNITED NATIONS, 26 July 2006

Improving access to new information technology for persons with disabilities will be the focus of this year's International Day of Disabled Persons, the United Nations announced today.

The Day, which is marked on 3 December, seeks to promote the integration of people with disabilities into society.

Although access to information and communication technology (ICT) has created opportunities for everyone, these advances have been particularly meaningful for persons with disabilities, allowing them to overcome the societal barriers of prejudice, infrastructure and inaccessible formats that stand in the way of participation.

But, many persons with disabilities remain unable to take full advantage of the Internet, because most websites are inaccessible to the blind and visually impaired, heavily dependent on using the mouse, and because training is often conducted in inaccessible formats and venues. Most persons with disabilities do not have access to new information technology at all.

"The new computer-based information technologies have the potential for opening up a world of new opportunities for persons with disabilities," said Sarbuland Khan, Executive Coordinator of the Secretariat of the Global Alliance for ICT and Development. "The problem is that new obstacles are preventing many of these people from reaching their potential. We want to promote good website design that allows all people to benefit from the new technology, and we want product developers to consider the needs of the disabled in their new designs."

Governments, at the first World Summit on the Information Society in 2003 in Geneva, committed themselves to building a people-centred, inclusive and development-oriented information society, where everyone can create, access, utilize and share information and knowledge. By focusing on e- accessibility, this year"s Day of Disabled Persons is intended to mobilize action to allow persons with disabilities to participate in that global vision.

Persons with disabilities are at a considerable disadvantage by not being able to access information technology. For instance, as education becomes increasingly dependent on information technology, not being able to access the Internet limits the learning potential of persons with disabilities.

Several places already have legislation and regulations requiring websites to be fully accessible. Global standards and guidelines on website accessibility are being developed. Once adopted and ratified, the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will require that persons with disabilities can access information technology. It specifies that certain measures should be introduced to eliminate obstacles and barriers to information and communication, and to promote access for persons with disabilities to ICT, including the Internet.

"Making information technology available to persons with disabilities is not only a matter of human rights -- it also makes good business sense," Mr.
Khan said. "Studies suggest that accessible websites appear higher up the page rankings of search engines and can save costs on web maintenance."

But many websites remain inaccessible for the visually impaired and the blind. A recent study of the FTSE 100 companies in the United Kingdom showed that around three quarters of company websites did not achieve basic levels of accessibility. By not making their websites accessible, British companies are forfeiting £80 million a year ($147 million) in lost revenue.

For further information, please contact Edoardo Bellando at the Department of Public Information, 212-963-8275, bellando at un.org.

2006-07-28 00:00:00

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