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Involve disabled people in policy-making, new global accessibility index urges

Less than one quarter of countries in a global assessment involve persons with disabilities in digital accessibility policy-making and monitoring, acting against the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), a new report claims.

Developed by G3ict – the Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs – the Digital Accessibility Rights Evaluation (DARE) Index measured the progress and implementation of digital accessibility for persons with disabilities in 121 countries, based on criteria set out in the CRPD. G3ict notes that the DARE Index builds on “eight years of data collection and analysis experience” from previous accessibility progress reports.

Despite “positive advances” in legislation supporting ICT (information and communications technology) accessibility, the results showed “significant gaps” when it came to actually implementing such policies, resulting in what DARE describes as “significant shortcomings in making digital products and services accessible to persons with disabilities.”

The index also features a table of the top ten countries in terms of overall performance with three categories based around digital accessibility: commitment, capacity to implement and actual outcomes for persons with disabilities: Oman scored highest, followed by Brazil, France, South Africa, Qatar, United States, Italy, Russian Federation, UK, Kenya and Spain.

Grouped into wider regions, North America and Europe scored significantly higher than other areas.

A report based on the data cites lack of involvement of persons with disabilities in policy-making as the most pressing issue holding back digital accessibility, but other issues are also highlighted. These include lack of involvement with international standards (such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines), and lack of ICT accessibility courses offered at “major universities”, available in only 37% of countries. The report claims that students in the remaining countries “continue to graduate in computer sciences or any other related discipline without having ever heard of ICT accessibility.”

Good practice and positive outcomes are also highlighted in the DARE Index. This includes a significant increase in legislation protecting the rights of persons with disabilities, recorded in 84% of the countries, compared to a minority before 2006. The report claims that this “remarkable progress” shows the impact of the CRPD.

However, the big picture outlined in the index is that many countries are still lacking when it comes to implementing digital accessibility measures. An overview statement on the DARE Index notes the following:

“Success stories from most advanced countries suggest that closing gaps requires more than governments’ advocacy and resources. It requires a long-term partnership between the public sector, industry, DPOs and NGOs. The participation and continuous involvement of persons with disabilities in policy making, development and monitoring processes is vital to build a fully accessible information society that ensures the right to communicate and the use of knowledge for all.”

Read more about the DARE Index at the G3ict website.


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