Access for Persons with Disabilities
Access for persons with disabilities and digital technologies offer unprecedented opportunities to support the building of inclusive knowledge societies and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. As the United Nations agency working to build inclusive knowledge societies, UNESCO provides technical support to its Member States to comply with international norms and standards, such the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, adopted in 2006. With a view to “leaving no one behind”, the Organization actively contributes towards the United Nations Disability Inclusion Strategy conducive institutional framework.
UNESCO provides policy advice to help its Member States implement the international standards and report on their engagements related to the rights of persons with disabilities. The Learning for All: guidelines on the inclusion of learners with disabilities in open and distance learning provide guidance for harnessing open and distance learning in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in terms of accessibility, access to information and education.
With regards to access to culture, UNESCO promotes the use of specialized software and custom electronic devices to remove online barriers and allow for more accessibility in documentary heritage. The guidelines for Accessible Digital Documentary Heritage underline the role of assistive technologies in addressing the specific challenges faced by persons with disabilities online. They further demonstrate that the digitization of museums, libraries and archives should acknowledge accessibility as a driving factor for their operation and recognize the potential of innovative online solutions. It provides advice to enhance access to culture for persons with disabilities, in line with the right to participate in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport as mentioned in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
UNESCO’s action also leverages partnerships and seeks to facilitate knowledge-sharing and international cooperation. The Emir Jaber Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah Prize for Digital Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, supported by the Permanent Delegation of the State of Kuwait to UNESCO, recognizes the outstanding contributions of individuals and organizations in promoting the inclusion and enhancing the lives of persons with disabilities through the application of digital solutions, resources and technologies. UNESCO considers it crucial to create an environment that favors the inclusion and empowerment of persons with disabilities so that they can live to their full potential and make a meaningful contribution to society, as specified in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
International cooperation is also encouraged through the Nippon Foundation and UNESCO project “Story for Development”, which celebrates human capacities, particularly those of exceptional persons with disabilities, who are making significant contributions in their respective fields of expertise. The collection of stories constitutes an important set of case studies and data, which allows interested bodies and organizations to make informed decisions regarding policies and community actions. The online platform contributes to the empowerment of persons with disabilities, as specified in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.