This post is a bit delayed. It should have been written a week ago, but that was in the middle of a meeting in New York City of monumental proportions. Last Monday, the United Nations General Assembly held a special High Level Meeting on Disability and Development (#HLMDD).
The primary purpose of this meeting was to adopt an outcome document laying out a global strategy for a a post-2015 development agenda. Fifteen years ago, when the United Nations adopted the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), it was several years before the world community adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). As a result, the human rights issues related to disability were not included in the targets and indicators included in the MDG planning and implementation. The General Assembly HLMDD was designed to rectify that oversight. This meeting gave us an opportunity to talk about global accessibility (or “a11y” for short, the first and last letters of accessibility, with a number 11 representing those letters omitted for shortening the word). As innovation in information and communication technologies proceeds, accessibility and assistive technology are integrally included. Our Institute on Disability and Public Policy (IDPP) for the ASEAN Region was accredited to the HLMDD as an official civil society organization (http://aseanidpp.org/idpp-attends-un-ga-high-level-meeting-on-disability-and-development). Our participation in the meeting enabled us to hold class last Monday from within the UN General Assembly meeting. Although, the UN wifi was ubiquitous, open to all delegates, and very fast, I chose to connect to the session on my mobile device (Apple, iPad) using the free Collaborate app. The session worked perfectly, and I enjoyed sharing the experience with all our students and guests. The agenda for the seminar last week included a focus on the 2007 Myhill, Cogburn et al study exploring the development of cyberinfrastructure-enabled knowledge communities in the national disability community. We then focused on the UN CRPD, the first human rights treaty of the 21st century. This convention, and its 50 articles, is a comprehensive treaty and addresses nearly all areas of human existence, including education, employment, culture, rehabilitation, and recreation. It is based in many ways on the national approach taken in the United States with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. We also explored the regional strategy developed by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP) called, the “Incheon Strategy to Make the Right Real for Persons with Disabilities in the Asia Pacific Region.” Finally, we also included an analysis of the Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies (G3ICT), and initiative of the UN Global Alliance on ICTs and Development (GAID). G3ICT also hosted a meeting on last Saturday of the UN Broadband Commission for Digital Development, co-organized by the International Telecommunication Union (a specialized agency of the United Nations focusing on telecommunications and ICTs). Overall, it was spectacular to be able to share this experience with my students, and I look forward to our discussions.