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WSIS Forum 2015: Making Empowerment a Reality - Accessibility for All

A High Level plenary session on “Making Empowerment a Reality – Accessibility for All” was organized today by UNESCO, governments, civil society and IT industry. The session provided space for open consultations and constructive dialogue in the area of access to information and knowledge using accessible and inclusive Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for inclusion of persons with disabilities and explored ways on how technological developments can contribute to their development and empowerment.

Today, over 1 billion people are living with some form of disabilities and often suffer from social and economic exclusion, discrimination, less educational and career opportunities. ICTs have a huge potential to help them to overcome these obstacles, to enable them to live their lives with dignity and participate fully in all spheres of social and economic activity.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Banerjee, Director of the Knowledge Societies Division in UNESCO, stressed that in building inclusive knowledge societies, access to knowledge and information is of vital importance to ensure that ALL persons are able to participate as creative and productive members of their communities, including and paying particular attention to the needs of persons with disabilities.

Today’s High Level Dialogue session brought together high level panelists, who contributed to the preparation of the New Delhi Declaration, the Outcome Document of the International Conference entitled “From Exclusion to Empowerment: Role of ICTs for Persons with Disabilities” held in New Delhi in November 2014. They are actively engaged in the international cooperation, policy making, civil society and human rights activities, and industrial development.

The discussion provided the opportunity for the panelists to share their views and experiences in the area of digital inclusion and to reflect upon the challenges and actions to be undertaken in the framework of shaping the Sustainable Development Goals in the post-2015 Agenda.

High Level Panel’s composition:

Chair: Dr Indrajit Banerjee, Director, Knowledge Societies Division, Communication and Information Sector, UNESCO

High level panelists:

  • Mr Lenin Moreno, Special Envoy of the United Nations for Disability and Accessibility Issues and former Vice President of Ecuador
  • Dr Stuti Kacker, Former Secretary of the Department of Disability Affairs,
    Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, The Government of India, India
  • Mr John E. Davies, Vice-President, Intel Corporation
  • Ms Daniela Rubio, Director, Macneticos and Independent Consultant on Digital Accessibility, Spain
  • Ms Michele J. Woods, Director, Copyright Law Division, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
  • Mr Aniyamuzaala James Rwampigi, Member and Chairperson, National Council for Persons with disabilities of Uganda;  President, African Youth with Disabilities Network; and Representative of African Disability Forum
  • Dr Andrew Taussig, Former Trustee, The International Institute of Communications and Voice of the Listener and Viewer, United Kingdom

More information on the Forum: