130312 UNESCO Global Report Opening new Avenues for Empowerment

UNESCO Global Report: Opening New Avenues for Empowerment

ICTs to Access Information and Knowledge for Persons with Disabilities

Over one billion people – approximately 15 percent of the world’s population – live with some form of  disability. Facing a wide range of barriers, including access to information, education, health care and a lack of job opportunities, persons living with disabilities struggle every day to be integrated into society.

This is unacceptable, and UNESCO is taking a stand. To tackle these challenges, UNESCO has led a number of initiatives, including the 2013 Global Report, to empower persons with disabilities thanks to information and communication technologies. Our position is clear – information and communication technologies, along with associative technologies, can widen access to information and knowledge, so they must accessible to all.

Building on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Global Report addresses strong recommendations to all stakeholders – from decision-makers to educators, civil society and industry – on how concretely to advance the rights of people living with disabilities. These recommendations draw on extensive research and consultations. Studies launched in five regions have allowed UNESCO to understand more clearly the conditions and challenges faced by persons with disabilities around the world.

To empower persons with disabilities is to empower societies as a whole – but this calls for the right policies and legislation to make information and knowledge more accessible through information and communication technologies. It calls also for applying accessibility standards to the development of content, product and services. The successful application of such technologies can make classrooms more inclusive, physical environments more accessible, teaching and learning content and techniques more in tune with learners’ needs. We need the commitment of all Government and stakeholders to make this a reality for all persons living with disabilities.

To build the inclusive knowledge societies we need for the century ahead, we cannot leave anyone aside. We must do everything to replace exclusion and discrimination with inclusion and empowerment – for this, we must harness the full power of information and communication technologies. This is our shared commitment, and this Global Report will help us move forward.