Slow global progress on accessible ICTs

  • Author: Chris Pycroft
  • Date: 8 Oct 2013

Access to Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) for people with disabilities, still remains limited around the globe, according to a report jointly written by the Global Initiative for Inclusive ICT (G3ict) and Disabled People’s International (DPI).

Due to be released next month, The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) Progress Report on ICT Accessibility, highlights key concerns about a lack of progress towards incorporating accessibility with technological innovation as specified by the CRPD. Out of 71 countries that participated in the report, only a quarter of them were acknowledged to have policies that define accessibility and specifically promote it within the development of technologies and ICT.

The report also highlights that more than 80 per cent of the countries currently have minimal or no levels of implementing accessibility with essential services such as websites, mobile and fixed phones, address systems on public transport or on automatic teller machines (ATMs). The number of countries with government funding in programs that support ICT accessibility has also not changed in the past year.

The inclusion of accessibility in procurement policies continues to remain a key issue, with only 31 per cent of countries who participated in the study stating that ICT accessibility is incorporated into their respective policies.

Progress is being made in certain areas, with 40 per cent of countries reporting that accessibility is incorporated into government services that are placed online, an increase of five per cent in the last year. While there is lack of implementation, the number of countries that include ICTs or electronic media as a part of accessibility definitions has increased from 31 per cent to 50 per cent in the past year; half of these countries now monitor accessibility standards. This suggests more governments are recognising the importance of making sure that information and services that are supplied electronically are accessible and work with assistive technologies.

The overview and methodology, which has been released ahead of the report, re-emphasised that any programs and policies that are developed should not be seen as “one-time interventions” or “check-offs to demonstrate compliance with global treaties”, and that commitment is required from those working in the ICT industry in order to ensure continued progression of both policy and activity in the area.

The CRPD Progress Report on ICT Accessibility monitors the progress of the implementation of the CRPD by State Parties. The full CRPD report on ICT accessibility is due to be released on November 15.