Gorelik Alexander Semenovich

Director of the United Nations Information Center in Moscow

The Imperative of Accessibility

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which was adopted in 2006, provides that states must eliminate the barriers facing persons with disabilities in various fields, including the information sphere. For the United Nations, access to information and communication technologies is an instrument for advancing a person’s rights, the ability to overcome poverty in the broad sense of the word, to fight unemployment, and to involve a person in society’s life. This is the key-note subject of United Nations events devoted to the rights of persons with disabilities and accessibility to updated information and communication technologies.

Tarek Ben Youssef
Director, Ministry of Social Affairs, Solidarity and Tunisians Abroad, Republic of Tunisia

Carlo Maria Rossotto
MNA Regional Coordinator, GICT Department, Policy Division (The World Bank)

Improving Access to Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) for Disabled Citizens: Tunisia’s Experience

People with disabilities face enormous challenges as they approach new technologies; to a citizen with disabilities, the use of a laptop, Internet browsing, editing and printing of a text, or reading a document can be difficult tasks. Information and communications technologies (ICTs) offer new tools to improve the integration of disabled citizens in the digital economy. New technologies can facilitate the integration of disabled children in the school system, enhance their learning performance and enable their integration into professional and social spheres. Tunisia is implementing an ambitious program to enhance access and use of ICTs by its citizens with disabilities, with a strong focus on education for disabled children. This article presents the objectives, main activities and preliminary results of these efforts. As a result of Tunisia’s program, over 50% of children with disabilities are using ICTs to improve their learning performance, 11 specially equipped centres have been established to respond to the need of people with multiple disabilities, and an increasing number of government websites are being adapted to the needs of disabled citizens. There are lessons to be learnt from this experience. First, this program goes well beyond the phase of a pilot project; it is a national program that successfully targets the entire population of disabled children in Tunisia, as well as large segments of the overall population of citizens with disabilities, at a relatively low cost per centre. These features of the program can provide guidance to developing countries that are in the process of defining broadband and ICT strategies to achieve economic and social benefits.

Axel Leblois

Executive Director

The Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies (G3ict)

An Interview about The Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies’ (G3ict) Latest Activities

Information Society journal interviews the Executive Director of The Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies (G3ict), a flagship advocacy initiative of GAID, the United Nations Global Alliance for ICT and Development. Initiated in December 2006 by W2i, the Wireless Internet Institute, G3ict is a public-private partnership dedicated to facilitating the implementation around the world of the Digital Accessibility Agenda defined by the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The interview considers active help for people with disabilities, of which there are more than 600 million in the world. Disabilities are one of the main causes of poverty, and ICT field research activities are some of the most important methods of changing the lives of people with disabilities for the better.

The organizational objective of G3ict is to facilitate implementing provisions in the Convention on Rights for People with Disabilities that concern the accessibility of ICT. This work combines the efforts of industrialists, scientific institutions, international institutes and state representatives. Russia is an important potential participant in a field that is as new as ICT accessibility.

Vlasova Yuliya Ivanovna

Head Librarian, United Nations Information Center, Moscow

The Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Access to Modern Information and Communication Technologies: Survey of the Main Documents

The article is devoted to analyzing the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – the first major international legal document of the early 21st century aimed at broadening and guaranteeing the existing rights by users with disabilities. According to the 2006 Nomensa research commissioned by the UN Secretariat, the most popular Internet resources are hardly accessible to persons with disabilities.

Larionov Roman Vyacheslavovich

Legal Adviser, Garant Company

What Changed for Persons with Disabilities Since the New Year: the Legislative Aspect

Russian legislation has gone through substantial changes since the start of the new year. Hundreds of regulatory enactments were either changed, came into effect or lapsed since January 1, 2010. The changes also concerned social assistance and protection of the disabled legislation. The article’s authors invite readers to study the main documents in this field.

Lysenko Alexander Evgenyevich

Candidate of Medical Sciences

Corresponding Member of the Academy of Medical and Technical Sciences

Expert of the Rehabilitation Service System for People with Disabilities in the Russian Federation project, a part of the European Union’s Cooperation Program with Russia

A Look at Developing an Equal-Opportunity Information Community

This article looks at the needs of the disabled and examines issues on developing an equal-opportunity information society. Technological, information and social discrimination against disabled is characteristic of contemporary Russian society, and is associated with the absence of opportunities for people to fully realize their rights to information access and information and communication technologies. New political solutions and mechanisms to implement them are proposed to eliminate discrimination against the disabled. The resources necessary for creating an inclusive and equal-opportunity information society are treated as investments rather than expenses, ones that will bring a tangible social and economic result. In place of a wasteful model for providing social support to the disabled based on compensating a person’s shortcomings, we should have a model that invests in the person, thus guaranteeing that he or she can live independently and benefit society.

Shevkun Oleg Valeryevich

Elite Group LLC

Freedom Scientific Company Production Specialist

Information Space: a World without Barriers

This article examines issues involving the provision of an accessible information space for persons with disabilities. We base our work on the functional definition of disability, which is formulated in the Preamble of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. On basis of research in the field of modern high technologies market, we draw the conclusion that the facilities to resolve the issue of integrating persons with disabilities into the information space are already available today. However, there is a variety of barriers preventing the full implementation of an accessible information space for persons with disabilities. The article examines some of these barriers, which are associated with the low level of the information available to the public and the developers. The education process must also account for the specific needs of persons with disabilities.

Bulin-Sokolova Elena Igorevna

Candidate of Science (Education)

Director, Center of Information Technology and Education Equipment, Moscow Department of Education

Winner of the Presidential Award of the Russian Federation for Education

Maeots Viktor Kalyuvich

Deputy Director, State Educational Institution - Center of Education “Education Technologies”

Merited Teacher of the Russian Federation

Children with Disabilities – Boundless Education Opportunities

This article describes a large-scale project aimed at providing support for children who cannot visit educational institutions because of their health. The project was proposed in 2003 by the Moscow Department of Education. During the project’s implementation, it was discovered that by applying remote technology, it was possible to provide an individual approach to each child. Thanks to this, it is now possible to overcome the problems that arise when educating children with disabilities in a regular school.

This project’s experience vividly demonstrates that today, modern ICT and remote education technology help organize an education process that is just as good in its traditional academic capabilities, and in many ways superior to it.

Tokareva Natalya Georgievna

Chief Program Department Specialist

UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education

The Role of Information and Communication Technologies in the Education of Persons with Disabilities

A necessary condition of offering quality education to persons with disabilities involves eliminating barriers to education and the educational process organization with consideration given to the students’ individual needs. The creation of favorable educational conditions for such students may be achieved through the use of appropriate methods in the educational process, as well as through the provision of accessible information resources and technologies. New education methods based on the use of special-purpose hardware and software, which are adapted to the students’ individual needs, help to create the optimal condition for education, which, in turn, provides for an improvement in the accessibility and quality of the education.

Kanevskiy Maksim Aleksandrovich

General Director of the Mobile Government Competence Center

General Director of the Internet Portal MGOV.RU

Extending Access to Mobile Services for People with Disabilities

(Excerpt from the Book “Mobile Citizen”)

Most people know that on February 14, 1876, Alexander Bell patented his invention in the United States – the telephone. But few know that Mr. Bell was a professor of vocal organs physiology at Boston University, and that the very idea of creating the now long-familiar telephone first came to the scientist in order to help the hearing-impaired. Congenial or acquired hearing disabilities are a serious factor limiting a person’s communicative capabilities. At the turn of the new millennium, people were still trying to adapt regular telephone communications to the needs of the hearing-impaired with the help of special phone adaptors. However, only with the introduction of mobile communications, and – most importantly, text message reception services – have mobile telephones become a real communication tool for persons with serious hearing disabilities.

In many countries, mobile services like SMS help the hearing-impaired in various (including emergency) situations. In Russia, meanwhile, their potential has still not been appreciated by government authorities and, accordingly, not used to even 50 percent of its potential by any of the cellular communication market players: operators and content and service providers.

Novichkov Daniel YuryevichAuthor of the www.internetbezbarierov.ru ProjectTranslator of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0Consultant on Web-accessibility and Interface Usability

How to Make a Website Accessible to the Disabled. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 Survey

WCAG 2.0, or the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, is a technical document describing the current situation and principles for creating accessible web content for the greatest number of users possible, including people with disabilities that affect their sight, hearing, motor skills, psyche and others functions. The guidelines reflect four fundamental accessible content principles: perceptibility, manageability, intelligibility and compatibility.

Popko Anatoliy Dmitrievich

Head of the Information Technology Department at the “Reakomp” Non-Governmenntal Institution of Professional Rehabilitation and Training of the All-Russian Society of the Blind

Kamynin Anatoliy Nikolaevich

Founder and Administrator of the Computer Technologies for the Blind and the Website for Visually-Impaired

National Accessibility Standard – a First Step toward Creating a Barrier-Free Internet

This article talks about accessibility problems in the Russian segment of the Internet. Internet space accessibility is treated as a comprehensive problem that includes both legislative and administrative levels. The article examines GOST R 52872-2007 national standard on “Internet Resources. Accessibility Requirement for the Visually-Impaired,” which came into effect on January 1, 2009. The article analyzes the Standard’s structure, its strengths and weaknesses, and offers ways to improve it.

© Информационное общество, 2010, вып. 1, с. 87-90.