Reflections from C-SUN -- GAATES

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C. J. Walsh and Cynthia Waddell are persuasive knowledgeable people. When each of them independently urges me to take a particular action, I do. (Well, actually, first I procrastinate and C. J. prods me to get with the program.)

In this case, both recommend the GAATES Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments.

As more Boomers age, and we require a new language as well as new practices and products that are inclusive, GAATES will keep the dialogue and product development cycle focussed on the Guiding Principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. I am especially hopeful that they will succeed in mainstreaming Assistive Technologies and breaking down the self-imposed barriers to adoption of AT and UD erected by older adults as they encounter the limitations that come with aging.

Life is too short not to challenge stigmatization of the technologies that make life richer, longer, and easier.

From the site:

The Objectives of GAATES are :

1. To support the Guiding Principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, adopted in December 2006 :
a. Respect for inherent dignity, individual autonomy including the freedom to make one’s own choices, and independence of persons ;
b. Non-discrimination ;
c. Full and effective participation and inclusion in society ;
d. Respect for difference and acceptance of persons with disabilities as part of human diversity and humanity ;
e. Equality of opportunity ;
f. Accessibility ;
g. Equality between men and women ; and
h. Respect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities and respect for the right of children with disabilities to preserve their identities.

2. To support Countries as they carry out their general obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

3. To promote and support the inclusion of women with disabilities, children with disabilities, people with multiple disabilities and aboriginals with disabilities in society.

4. To develop, promote and disseminate knowledge and information regarding the understanding and implementation of accessibility of sustainable built, social, and virtual environments, including architectural and infrastructural design, transportation systems, habitats, and electronic, information and communication technologies so that everyone, including people with disabilities and older persons, are able to fully participate and contribute to society by :
a. conducting educational sessions, including international, regional and local events;
b. developing and maintaining an informative website ;
c. developing, printing, publishing and distributing relevant publications and papers.

5. To promote and support the implementation of accessibility as an integral part of sustainable development.

6. To provide technical expertise in the development of accessible electronic, information and communication technologies.

7. To promote and support the implementation of accessibility as part of the building, adaptation, and re-construction of sustainable built, social and virtual environments.

8. To promote and support the implementation of appropriate accessible user interface technologies.

9. To promote effective communication through the provision of alternative formats, telecommunications, and electronic, information and communication technology products.

10. To assist Countries in their national implementation and monitoring obligation under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, including the development of performance indicators and benchmarking.

11. To promote the legislation and policies which address accessibility by participating in international events and activities.

12. To facilitate capacity-building and the transfer of knowledge through organising and hosting international and regional conferences, seminars, and meetings and other events.

13. To raise awareness concerning accessibility of the built, social and virtual environments and its importance as a prerequisite for persons with disabilities and older persons to fully participate in and contribute to society.

14. To support the implementation of accessibility measures including the provision of accessible signage, care assistance and intermediaries, and new electronic, information and communication technologies and systems.

15. To provide technical support for the protection and safety of persons with disabilities in situations of risk (e.g. fires in buildings), including situations of armed conflict, humanitarian emergencies and the occurrence of natural disasters.

16. To undertake projects supporting the objectives of GAATES.

17. To conduct educational sessions, and develop and deliver curricula for training programmes.

18. To collaborate and support organisations of people with disabilities and development agencies by providing technical support for accessibility of the built, social and virtual environments.

19. To conduct research and participate in the development of accessibility-related regulations, codes, standards and guidance documentation.

20. To promote the implementation of inclusive environments by removing barriers and by recommending innovative design solutions, thus allowing people with disabilities and elderly persons to fully participate in and contribute to society.

21. To engage in other ancillary and incidental activities related to accessibility.

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