UNESCO, in conjunction with the Government of India, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and Ministry of Human Resource Development of India, is organizing an international event titled “From Exclusion to Empowerment: Role of ICTs for Persons with Disabilities”, which is scheduled to take place from 24 to 26 November 2014 in New Delhi, India.
This international event will bring together more than 500 leading policy makers and practitioners in the field of disabilities, communication and information specialists, ICTs developers, together with leaders in politics, education, civil society, culture, business, media and industry as well as UN family organizations to discuss these vital issues in order to enhance human rights and fundamental freedoms for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in every aspect of life.
The major objectives of this international event are to showcase the potential and benefits that Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) provide to access information and knowledge for persons with disabilities around the world and encourage all stakeholders to take concrete measures for the empowerment of persons with disabilities through the use of inclusive and accessible ICTs.
Current estimates suggest that 1 billion people, 15% of the global population, are living with some form of disability. Though they have been referred to as the ‘world’s largest minority’, many persons with disabilities are not provided with equal access to education and gainful employment. They are thus denied the opportunity to take an active part in their communities and grow as individuals. It is imperative that this issue be dealt with, specifically under the auspices of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and with a view to the Post-2015 inclusive-development agenda.
UNESCO is convinced that ICTs can help mitigate the digital divide and foster the inclusion of persons with disabilities within an educational context as well as within society as a whole. Inclusive and accessible ICTs can be used to address the needs of persons with a variety of disabilities, to the extent that they encourage personalized lifelong learning, employment and social participation.
This international event plans to gain better understanding of the possibilities afforded by these new technologies, and will comprise of three main events:
- The international conference will aim to raise public awareness amongst a variety of stakeholders: policy and decision makers, leaders within education, industry, IT and media sectors, and public and private organizations. It will comprise of more than 100 thematic presentations over 3 thematic tracks organized as plenary and breakout parallel sessions. Broadly, multi-stakeholder, national, and international cooperation to universalize these new technologies and programs will be encouraged. Additionally, participatory breakout sessions will include practice-oriented presentations and content development which will result in the preparation of a Conference Outcome Document and Action Plan.
- The “We Care Filmfest” which will play a large part in raising awareness about disability through the medium of film. While an important issue, disability has received precious little visibility; as a result, prejudice and negative stereotyping towards disabled persons is prevalent. In collaboration with the Brotherhood and We Care Filmfest (India), this part of the event will try to dispel the prejudice, emphasize the need to educate and empower disabled persons, and provide a source of inspiration. The films will also be used for the global social campaign.
- The ICT Exhibition portion of the conference, where mainstream and assistive ICTs will be on display in an interactive workshop format and exhibition space. ICT solutions developers and providers will be encouraged to present existing ICTs and good practices, to develop new solutions, and to create a network for progress within this domain.
Overall, recommendations will be made for specific actions, innovative solutions will be shared so as to encourage new policies, products, and services, and cross-sectoral collaboration to empower persons with disabilities will be initiated. It is through efforts like these that meaningful change can be effected, and UNESCO and its partners are proud to present and engage in this important conference.
For more information about the international event, please visit the following website: http://www.unesco.org/ict-disability/