An international expert meeting on the “Establishment of a Global Centre for Excellence for the Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities using Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs)” was held on 29 and 30 June 2015 at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France. The meeting brought together more than a dozen experts from Brazil, Ecuador, France, India, Ireland, Kuwait, UK and USA, as well as the UN Economic Commission for Western Asia (UNECWA), in cooperation with the Permanent Delegation of the State of Kuwait to UNESCO.
At the opening of the meeting, Mr Lenin Moreno, the former Vice-President of Ecuador and UN Special Envoy on Disability and Accessibility, insisted on the importance of cultural and technical inclusion of people with disabilities in society. He also emphasized that disability is part of world’s diversity of abilities, without which the world would be a less interesting place, and that the involvement of people with disabilities in the creation of ICTs is vital.
Over the two days, the experts discussed the proposed Centre, to be based in the State of Kuwait, defining its vision, mission, functions, objectives, scope and title. They further proceeded to the development of a strategic roadmap, and proposals for the structure of the Global Centre, as well as resources and infrastructure required.
The perspectives and recommendations of the experts were highly valued and will no doubt lead to a vital and inclusive Global Centre working for the empowerment of peoples with disabilities through ICTs. The organizers of the international expert meeting also invited the participants to identify particular problems and barriers to accessing information and knowledge and to match these with possible solutions and appropriate ICTs and assistive technologies.
The proposal for the establishment of the Global Center for Excellence will be submitted for the approval of the governing bodies of UNESCO later this year.