Church makes online content accessible on their platform

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has updated its online content and has made it accessible to those who have disabilities. The content has also been posted on the Gospel Library app in the Life Help section, including materials for individuals, parents, and caregivers of those with disabilities.
All the Church materials including the scriptures are available in the following accessible formats: American Sign Language, Audio, Closed Captions, DAISY format, Materials on talking book cartridges, Victor Reader Stream Files, and Web Braille.

To say there is no freedom of expression in India is propaganda

While launching the News18 TV channel on the 75th anniversary of India’s independence, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha of Jammu and Kashmir said ‘There are 392 news channels in the country, which is more than even the United States of America which has close to 100 channels. This speaks volume of the freedom of the media and true nature of democracy in India, but we must all also remember that when the Constitution of India was being prepared, all Indians were given the right of freedom of expression under 19 (1), but 19 (2) also put in some restrictions which I believe are not just restrictions, but duties’. He further noted that ‘There is a need to mind the fine line between freedom of expression, and the expression that hurts the nation. The Constitution clearly mentions the Rights of every individual, but it also mentions our duties. The problem arises when people only talk about their rights and forget their duties’, said Manoj.

 The impact of spyware on the right to freedom of expression

Founder and director of The Citizen Lab, Ronald Deibert talked to Article 19’s Jo Glanville about the technologies that turn your mobile into a spy in your pocket. The lab research unit, based at the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy, University of Toronto, focuses on internet security and threats to human rights.
In the podcast, recorded on 21 June, Deibert talks about the growth of the spyware industry and the fast-moving innovations that mean the people targeted are completely unaware of violations against their privacy. He points out that ‘democracies are among the clients for these technologies, and explains what role international human rights bodies can play in stemming violations and calling governments to account.’ 

UN Human Rights Office reports on negative effects of internet shutdowns

The office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a report on the dramatic real-life effects of internet shutdowns on people’s lives and how this has been vastly underestimated.

‘Too often, major communication channels or entire communication networks are slowed down or blocked,’ the report says, adding that this has deprived ‘thousands or even millions of people of their only means of reaching loved ones, continuing their work or participating in political debates or decisions.’

The report also discusses the phenomenon of internet shutdowns, looking at when and why they are imposed and examining how they undermine a range of human rights, primarily the right to freedom of expression. The report notes that between 2016 and 2021, there have been 931 shutdowns in 74 countries, as documented by the #KeepItOn coalition.

 NCC; Ongoing Awareness and Engagement programme launched in Nasarawa State, Nigeria.

As part of the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) goal to transform the country from social exclusion to an all-inclusive that would guarantee  communications services for all, the commission convened an awareness and engagement programme for persons with disabilities in Lafia, Nasarawa State.  The ongoing programme has accorded the commission opportunity to develop policies and regulatory guidelines that would address concerns of persons with disabilities  regarding ICT accessibility.

In the welcome address read by Mr. Isa Olatiwo Deputy Director, Zonal Operations of the NCC  on behalf of the Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, said: ‘An industry consultative meeting on service provision with respect to the disability group which was held in July, 2008 in order to sensitise both operating companies and equipment manufacturers on the need to jointly address challenges faced by people with disabilities. To join the information-rich countries of the world, the government of Nigeria pursued a continuous programme and aggressive market liberalisation policy that has made Nigeria one of the most liberalised telecom markets in the world.’


DOJ; Urged to simplify Accessibility requirements as stated in the American With Disability Act (ADA)

U.S Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) joined by several other Senators, have written a letter to the U.S  Department of Justice (DOJ), through the Attorney General Merrick Garland, urging the department to provide better guidance and regulations to help State and local governments better comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act’s (ADA) accessibility requirements on their websites, mobile applications and other forms of technology .
The letter read in part ‘For people with disabilities, website accessibility and other forms of accessible [technology] are necessities—not luxuries or conveniences—that foster independence, economic self-sufficiency and active, meaningful participation in civic life. Although the Department has clearly stated that the ADA applies to such digital spaces, the lack of specific requirements or technical compliance standards incorporated in regulation has led to a widespread lack of meaningful digital accessibility for people with disabilities. It is past time for the Department to issue robust clarifications and remedy this exclusionary status quo.’

Report; Are organizations focusing on digital accessibility?

Workers with disability were among the hardest hit during the pandemic, and now millions of  these workers face a living standards emergency – with lower pay than their non-disabled peers, but higher energy and transport costs.

With an estimated 1.3 Billion Persons with disability globally, let’s focus on the workplace power and potential being harnessed from this statistic when looked at as an under-tapped talent pool. 

According to the Valuable 500 report , 54% of companies have an active disability inclusion accessibility policy.

The research reveals encouraging progress towards disability inclusion across  business processes, from recruitment to advertising, with 81% of respondents declaring an improvement on their pre-pandemic disability strategies.

A consideration of disability is now central to many recruitment processes, to improve Persons with disability representation and foster an inclusive work ethos from the offset. 65%  of respondents report adjusting their interview process, whilst 74% advertise as an inclusive employer, and 62% explicitly encourage applications from Persons with disabilities.

Persons with disabilities not equally represented online

According to UN statistics, there are currently over 80 million persons with disabilities living in Africa. In Ghana persons with disabilities are estimated to be 3% of the total population. In 2018, internet penetration in Ghana was estimated to be 30.8%; in 2021 it is reported to have increased to 50% penetration. The global pandemic that introduced restrictions to physical gatherings including workplaces, educational institutions, shopping opportunities, etc. all moved toward the digital space, accelerating this transition.
However for the persons with disabilities in Ghana, things either remained the same or grew worse due to lack of digital access, digital literacy, financial empowerment, and other related challenges.

Ireland’s Minister for Disabilities announces €2m for Digital and Assistive Technology Projects

To improve access to digital and assistive technologies for Persons with disabilities, Ireland’s Minister for Disabilities, Ms. Anne Rabbitte, announced the call for projects under a new once-off €2 million Digital and Assistive Technology Fund. The call went out in December, 2021. After a rigorous selection process, 11 projects out of 79 submissions were selected, under the Health Service Executive’s (HSE) CREATE initiative.
The Cooperative Real Engagement for Assistive Technology Enhancement (CREATE) initiative seeks to ensure that service users and providers work together to identify what will make a real difference to individual users of digital and assistive technology (DAT).These projects demonstrated the extent to which they were person-centered, willingness to work collaboratively across different service providers and to really engage with digital and assistive technology users through a clear process of co-design.

The Minister secured €2 million for the initiative in Budget 2022. Announcing the allocation of the funding, Ms. Rabbitte said: “I am delighted to see this funding supporting a range of innovative projects which will greatly assist people with disabilities. Digital and Assistive Technologies are a crucial tool to allow people with disabilities to live a more independent life of their own choosing.”