Between 24 and 27 June 2022, the Asia Pacific School of Internet Governance (APSIG) in partnership with the Internet Society Accessibility Standing Group organized the first Disability Leadership Training Workshop in Digital Rights and Internet Governance in Dhaka, with support from local hosts Internet Society Bangladesh Chapter, plus Article 19 and the APNIC Foundation.
Invited participants from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, subsequently issued the Dhaka Declaration advocating core principles for the participation of persons with disability in Internet-related decision-making processes.
The ratification and implementation of international instruments such as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Marrakesh VIP Treaty and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (as related to persons with disability) in our region
The commitment by Governments to make ICT and the digital environment in our countries accessible for persons with disability by formulating and implementing legislation and regulation in accordance with the international instruments. This includes making e-government services accessible adhering to the current version of W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. This commitment should be enforced by the governments with designated trained staff as well as reasonable financial resources. Furthermore, research and development in accessible technology is to be supported for low cost availability of digital products to persons with disability.
Making educational facilities and curriculum at all levels accessible through an equal delivery mechanism. Developing and delivering university courses on digital accessibility.
Providing an enabling environment facilitated by accessible digital resources in the public and private sector for creating employment opportunities for people with disability.
Businesses and the private sector making their online services accessible and adhering to the current version of W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
International donor agencies and IGOs providing accessible technologies, both hardware and software, to people with disability in their developing country programs. This includes training in the effective and safe use of the Internet.
The accessibility of communication, advertisement and public messaging through the provision of alternate formats and the use of inclusive design.
Internet Governance organizations welcoming people with disability to their deliberations, ensuring that their programs and communications are accessible, thereby enabling people with disability to participate proactively and productively in order to project their voices in global, regional and national Internet Governance processes.
Further activity (Capacity building roll-outs in 6 countries, tentatively during Oct 2022 – Mar 2023) is planned, wherein the leadership group from the Dhaka Workshop will work with their local communities to further engage with Internet Governance and related topics.
As a consequence of the Internet Society de-chartering its existing Special Interest Groups, on January 1 2022 the Accessibility Special Interest Group (A11ySIG) has reverted to its former status as a project of the Internet Society New York Chapter (ISOC-NY).
A11ySIG was formed in September 2017 to rejuvenate the existing Internet Society Disability and Special Needs Chapter (DSNC), which was founded way back in 2002 by web accessibility pioneer Cynthia Waddell. On April 9 2019 A11ySIG was chartered by the Internet Society as a Special Interest Group, taking the place of the former chapter.
A11ySIG activities include webinars, participation in major policy conferences, a website, a wiki, a calendar, a mailing list, a whatsapp group, providing secretariat and funding support for the Dynamic Coalition on Accessibility and Disability (IGF DCAD), and livestream support for other accessibility-related events and groups such as WSIS, Accessibility NYC Meetup, and Accessibility VR Meetup.
A new separate ‘Accessibility Standing Group‘ (Accessibility SG) has been constituted by the Internet Society, which has yet to establish a program. A11ySIG expects to engage and support all efforts of the new group, while independently carrying on the ongoing wider activities. A11ySIG will still be open to worldwide membership.
Interested people are invited to join both groups. A11ySIG can be joined at https://a11ysig.org/join, the Accessibility SG by joining the Internet Society.
[A message from Accessibility SIG President Muhammad Shabbir Awan]
On Tuesday 3rd December 2019, the Internet Society Accessibility Special Interest Group (A11ySIG) joins the rest of the world in observing International Day of Persons With Disabilities (IDPD).
To recall, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities has been annually observed on 3 December worldwide since 1992. The theme for 2019 IDPD is: ‘Promoting the participation of persons with disabilities and their leadership: taking action on the 2030 Development Agenda’. The theme focuses on the empowerment of persons with disabilities for inclusive, equitable and sustainable development as envisaged in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which pledges to ‘leave no one behind’ and recognizes disability as a cross-cutting issues, to be considered in the implementation of its 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
The ISOC Accessibility SIG aims to make the Internet and its attendant technologies accessible to the largest audience possible regardless of disabilities. On Tuesday, while we are observing IDPD, I call upon the developers to remember that not everyone uses your product in the same way. Moreover, the digital divide is not just about having the access to digital technology, it could also be about having the access to technology and not being able to use it. Among other factors in the domain of Internet and digital accessibility, a lot depends upon the technical community and developers. So, if you are a developer, and developing a device or a website, you need to ensure that your digital product doesn’t prevent nearly one billion of world’s population to access or use it.
Thus, if you are not making your website accessible, you are contributing to the digital divide. If you want to make your website or mobile app accessible, follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. In ensuring that the Internet is for Everyone, the developer is either part of the solution or the problem. There is no middle way.
With Best Regards,
Muhammad Shabbir Awan
Internet Society Accessibility Special Interest Group.