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Call For Compliance With UN Convention Covering ICT Rights

Disability rights groups, organisations working with people with disabilities and all other interested parties must carefully monitor their home nations’ compliance with the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities to ensure moves towards more accessible information and communications technologies (ICT) do not fall by the wayside, one of the world’s leading accessibility analysts writes in this month’s E-Access Bulletin.

Cynthia Waddell, Executive Director of The International Center for Disability Resources on the Internet (ICDRI – http://www.icdri.org/ ), says the Convention entered into legal force in May 2008 and starting next year, 2010, all states that have ratified it will be required to report to the UN Committee on Rights of Persons with Disabilities on measures taken to meet its accessible ICT obligations.

The Convention has helped to create a paradigm shift in the exercise of the rights of people with disabilities in the use of ICT, Waddell says, with many provisions relating to ICT availability, affordability and accessibility through principles of ‘universal design’. “But it is one thing to have a law or policy, and another to implement it…if the UN Convention is to succeed, then its monitoring provisions need to be followed. The Convention requires the signatory states to designate focal points within each country to assist in implementation and monitoring. I encourage you to find out who the designated focal points are in your country and to contribute your voice to the Convention implementation effort and the country Monitoring Report.”

The ongoing controversy over the Kindle 2 – an electronic book reader with a text-to-speech feature which has been embroiled in a row over royalties from what some see as a new ‘audio book’ format – “reminds us that the accessible ICT paradigm shift is fragile and can be broken,” Waddell says.

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