Enabling environment: Access, Accessibility and Assistive Technology

This week reading/ class focus on the dynamic and complexity of technological innovations that impact people with disabilities. To accelerate ICT innovations that allow full participation of people with disabilities in society, Universal Design (UD) principles is one of the keys.  In Myhill et. al (2008) highlighted that the UD principles is served as bible in designing and developing the prototype collaborative tools that served the need of people across abilities.  UD principles preaching about the usability of wide range of design disciplines such as environments, products, and communications for people with different abilities. Myhill et. al (2008) presents empirical studies based on real cases of cross cultural collaborations in which enabling greater accessibility in digital environment, as the result of increasing collaboratory efforts between developed and developing countries. In designing platform for geographical distributed collaborations these elements need to be observed: a) people-to-people, where it is important to ensure that the tools are able to connect people in different set of environments and locations, b) people-to-resources, where the collaborative tools should have the capacity for the collaborators to share data, documents and organization of different documentations, and d) people-to-facilities, where the collaborative tools can provide environment for collaborators to meet and realize their collaboration.

To guarantee fully participation of people with disabilities in our society, the concept of assistive and adaptive technology alone is not sufficient because it tends to fall under the hegemony of normalcy, where the concept itself ‘othering’ person with disabilities based on norms that focus on the form of the body, where the disability identity construct outside what society perceived as ‘normal’ and ‘natural’. Thus, Foley and Ferri (2012) suggested that focus should be given on accessible technologies, instead assistive and adaptive technologies alone – that promote greater access and flexibility to people with disabilities. Emphasized accessible technologies will increase the affordability and ownership of technologies among people with disabilities. They emphasized that peoples’ relationship to technology must be understood in a larger social, historical and cultural context. Thus in realization of accessible technologies these must be seriously considered: a) accessible technologies must incorporate universal design principles start from the very beginning rather than to fit or make accommodation at a later stage and; b) the accessible technologies developed must not isolated people with disabilities from the mainstream society.

Internet has allowed creative innovations made to phone devices, how we consume and adapt mobile phones. The mobile phones are so vital today for both developed and developing countries. The creation of iPhone (Goggin, 2009) and other smart phones are really open new ways on how accessible technology can be to people with disabilities and make access to ICTs more affordable to them.

All above mentioned development made possible by worldwide Convention; the UNCRPD and other global guidelines on ICT innovations such WCAG 2.0. The question now is how governments could leverage from the Convention and facilitate harmonization between UNCRPD and local laws and regulations. UNESCAP has issued a smart regional plan; the Incheon Strategy that I believe will further enable governments around the region in transforming and enable more inclusive-disability development The 10 measureable goals empowerment human rights agenda of people with disabilities in the region, where it set 27 targets with 62 indicators and time frame for achieving the targets from 2013 to 2022. The Incheon Strategy gives wider, actionable and measureable perspective of the UNCRPD, with its time bound core indicators and supplementary indicators.

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1 Response to Enabling environment: Access, Accessibility and Assistive Technology

  1. mcw60 says:

    Reblogged this on First Class and commented:
    I found this article and it has some great resources as well, so I wanted to share. Moving into the digital classroom with inclusion as a standard, all teachers need the assistance of technology to really figure out what can work for each student.

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