Accessibility and disability

14 Nov 2018 12:30h - 13:30h

Event report

[Read more session reports and live updates from the 13th Internet Governance Forum]

The objective of this session was to explore how members of the Dynamic Coalition on Accessibility and Disability (DCAD) can connect better with other Dynamic Coalitions (DC) of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF). The reason for the engagement is to enable other DCs to know and value the work and intervention being made by DCAD.

The moderator of the session, Mr Gerry Ellis, Feel The BenefIT, invited the members of DCAD to take on a role in engaging members of other DCs.

Mr Derrick Cogburn, Founding Executive Director of the American University Institute on Disability and Public Policy, said that what his organisation has done, for what he termed ‘transnational advocacy networks’, is to provide infrastructure support especially for those in the Washington area. This enables them to work together over distance to develop policy formulations, to work together and to get to know each other better. It also facilitates preparation for international meetings. He said he was prepared to extend this same support to the DCAD if it was needed.

Ellis invited contributions from participants about how access or remote participations has been at the 2018 IGF.

Ms Virginia Paque, DiploFoundation, who is an advocate for remote participation, acknowledged that remote participation is supported by DCAD. According to her, though she does not have any disabilities, she has had problems connecting to her accounts. The support team had been very helpful, and were quick, any time the connection issue arose, to help her re-connect.

A participant speaking from the point of view of autism said that access from a cognitive point of view during the three days of the IGF had been very poor. According to her, there was a lack of coherence, structure, consistency, and predictability when accessing the website, and she had to get somebody to help her before she could use the website. She called for an improvement.

Another participant added to the previous contribution by saying that he had had difficulties registering on the IGF website due to different font sizes which kept changing from one page to the other. He also complained about the layouts of the website which makes usage difficult, an issue that could have been avoided with simple formatting techniques. Moreover, he called for early availability of hardcopies of the schedule at the venues.

Cogburn brought up the point that the IGF is hosted by the United Nations and since the United Nations has the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), it should set the example for the rights identified in the CRPD, including the right to accessibility and access to information.

Ms Judy Okite, Association for Accessibility and Equality, Kenya, raised the issue of transportation from the airport to the hotel and also from the hotel to the event venue. She called for an improvement going forward at future IGFs, especially since this has been raised in previous IGFs.

The final part of the meeting was used to capture further inputs from the participants. Ellis promised to forward all the complaints raised to the IGF secretariat.

At the end of the meeting Mr Jovan Kurbalija, Executive Director, Secretariat of the High-level-Panel on Digital Cooperation (ex officio), made a brief intervention to invite DCAD and its members to submit their comments and complaints to the High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation.

To finish, Ellis said he will be in touch with Cogburn to ensure regular meetings are under way before the IGF in Berlin in 2019, so that DCAD members can better prepare for the event.


By Jacob Odame-Baiden