Workshop #276: Rights Issues for Disadvantaged Groups

October 23, 2013, 11:00 am – 12:30 pm
This workshop set out to address particular challenges for disadvantaged groups in enjoying a “people centered, inclusive and development-oriented information society” on the Internet. And it proposed ways of meeting these challenges in support of universal access, effective use, and specialized services for disadvantaged populations that include: the physically disabled, non-technical and oral cultures, and the digitally disadvantaged within rural and remote communities.
Five participants were asked to make brief introductory statements indicating the context and circumstances for their own groups, focusing on specific cases and examples of how disability and/or marginalization affect access and use of the internet.
Issues discussed and the roles of stakeholders mentioned in the opening statements included:

  •  importance of open access to information to government data.
  • last mile delivery
  • barriers (cost, cultural)
  • accessible design barriers in design, accessible technologies
  • need to break down and eliminate these barriers and highlighting
  • need for accessibility and inclusiveness, availability and awareness
  • discrimination from a legal perspective
  • gap between substance of the law and reality in the design
  • at the state level there is a public-private divide, where digital by default not yet feasible
  • at the international level, there is a need for focal groups to develop and enshrine the rights to accessibility technology and technological change.
  • rights of marginalized, vulnerable groups.
  • access to information – how to be safe and responsible online
  • education, training in how to be safe and responsible at the same time – an important component to access.
  • national strategy of inclusion of use of strategies for vulnerable and marginalized groups with ICTs
  • many experiences of marginalization are shared among different groups –
  • encapsulated by the notion of intersectionality
  • gender is an important component when discussing access, openness, technology, usage, and who is effected. For example women with disabilities face double discrimination.
  • need to factor gender and sexual minorities, sexual rights activities
  • sexual and reproductive rights (safe and legal abortion)
  • Safe sex education content
  • LGBT rights

The roles of important stakeholders identified as part of the solution included:

  • libraries front and center
  • cooperation among the technical community and businesses (the private sector).
  • designers – accessibility and creativity not mutually exclusive
  • policy makers at various levels, businesses, designers, and lawmakers
  • activists

Following these initial interventions the moderator asked the panelists to pose questions for the audience, designed to get the audience to participate at a substantive level.
The panelists asked:

  • What are some tangible measures to bring about change in accessibility design?
  • How to design access and inclusion?
  • What are some tools, platforms, and incentives to allow people to access?
  • What can we do in addition to accessibility design?
  • For indigenous communities, what happens after access?
  • Are market incentives as way forward in universal design?

Following these initial interventions the audience, together with the panelists, explored additional factors, issues to consider, and covered the following areas:

  • Vulnerability of oral communities and indigenous communities
  • Selective accessibility
  • Language barriers
  • Need to get away from individual characteristics of disability that puts the onus on individual the user and embrace “Universal Access”
  • Disability is not a niche issue at the design and use levels.
  • Need to Ingrain inclusive legal frameworks into the regulation of technology
  • Internet Governance should support physical infrastructure (as well as design of accessibility technologies).
  • How does policy affects people with disabilities?
  • What are some success factors and challenges?
  • Need for national strategy – to coordinate between ministries

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Conclusions drawn from the workshop and further comments *

The workshop drew the following the conclusions:

  • Defined and broadened the understanding of disadvantaged groups as well as informed the definition of inclusiveness to include: gender and sexual minorities, indigenous populations, oral communities, the homeless, youth, remote participants, and the elderly.
  • Identified the critically important roll of end users to be involved from the “ground up” in discussions, research, and design of accessibility technology and policy in order to best identify tangible problems and solutions, and to identify the needs.
  •  The notion of intersectionality (or “Joined up thinking”) – that problems and solutions intersect among marginalized groups can help identify broad problems in ICTs addressing the needs of marginalized groups.
  •  There is an urgent need for coordination between policy makers, ministries, designers, users, and effected populations. And Internet Governance can help in coordinating this, as well as NGOs and research groups, technical community, existing institutions – specifically libraries, and disadvantaged end users as the most important stakeholders.
  •  To make access and inclusiveness a default.
Workshop #276: Rights Issues for Disadvantaged Groups
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