ICT Accessibility in the Context of the United States Commitment to the CRPD


G3ict's Analysis: ICT Accessibility in the Context of the United States Commitment to the CRPD

By announcing the signature by the United States of the Convention on the occasion of the 19th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) enacted on July 26, 1990, President Barak Obama fulfilled his campaign promises.  While taking a clear and strong position in support of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, President Obama emphasized accessibility Rights including to technology applications and services in the context of education and employment.

"As we reflect upon the past and look toward a brighter future, we recognize that our country has made great progress. More than ever before, Americans with disabilities enjoy greater access to technology and economic self-sufficiency. More communities are accessible, more children with disabilities learn alongside their peers, and more employers recognize the capabilities of people with disabilities.  Despite these achievements, much work remains to be done. People with disabilities far too often lack the choice to live in communities of their choosing; their unemployment rate is much higher than those without disabilities; they are much likelier to live in poverty; health care is out of reach for too many; and too many children with disabilities are denied a world-class education." 

Next Steps:

While President Obama has fulfilled his promise of having the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities signed by the United States, it will now need to go through the ratification process. 

The U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations chaired by Senator John Kerry will review the Convention and among many factors, consider its implications for U.S. laws and regulations. 

Towards the end of last year, the National Council on Disability published an analysis of the gaps between the dispositions of the Convention and U.S. laws and regulations.  Asked about his opinion at the recent G3ict Steering Committee meeting, John Kemp, Chair of the G3ict Research Committee and a prominent Advocate of the Disability Rights stated his belief that those are entirely manageable. 

At the IEEE meeting in Boston last week, it also became apparent that those circumstances may in fact constitute an opportunity in the specific field of ICT accessibility: lots of technology advances have occurred over the past few years and many more solutions exist today in the field of digital accessibility and assistive technologies which could benefit from a fresh look at current dispositions.
From a global perspective, the United States are a very important player in the ICT industry and in the area of ICT accessibility in particular. At a time when many countries look towards adopting new ICT accessibility policies and programs, the United States may be in a position to adopt innovative assistive and accessible technologies programs and solutions as part of President Obama's ambitious program. And with the Convention calling for international cooperation to promote new solutions, all stakeholders could benefit: disabled persons around the world, the ICT industry, standard development organizations, large users of ICT applications, employers and education institutions among many.  

In this context, President Obama's mention of technology, employment and education is a promising indicator of what the near future may hold for ICT accessibility programs and innovations in the United States.  A very encouraging sign indeed which all G3ict Stakeholders from around the world very much welcome.




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