Ms. Manique Gunaratne was a Resource Person at the “Capacity Building for People With Disabilities in Internet Governance” organised by the Asia-Pacific School on Internet Governance (APSIG) in Dacca, Bangladesh in June 2022. The programme was held at the Imprean Hotel in Bangladesh. APSIG, founded in 2015, is the premier regional initiative that imparts capacity building in Internet Governance in the Asia-Pacific region. Annual editions of APSIG enable Internet Governance practitioners; especially the organisers of national Schools on Internet Governance (SIGs) and national Internet Governance Forums (IGFs)-to enhance their capacity through lectures and presentations by international experts and through discussions. The present consultation is a special initiative targeted at Persons with Disabilities, with the objective of developing leadership within the communities and enabling them to participate in global, regional, and national Internet governance initiatives.
The “Disability Leadership in Digital Rights and Internet Governance” participants were from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. At the first Disability Leadership Training Workshop in Digital Rights and Internet Governance meeting in Dhaka, Bangladesh June 2022 agreed on the following:
- Expressing our appreciation to the organisers: the Asia Pacific School of Internet Governance in partnership with the Internet Society Accessibility Standing Group, the local host, the Bangladesh Chapter of the Internet Society and the support of Article 19 and the APNIC Foundation.
- Respecting the culture, language and diversity of disability in being equally treated in the digital space.
Effective participation by persons with disability in relevant decision-making processes based on the recognition of the disability movement’s mission: Nothing about us without us.
We, as disability leaders in South Asia agree that we advocate for:
- The ratification and implementation of international instruments such as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Marrakech Treaty and the Sustainable Development Goals (as related to persons with disability) in our region.
- The commitment by Governments to make ICT and the digital environment in our countries accessible for persons with disability by formulating and implementing legislation and regulation in accordance with the international instruments. This includes making e-government services accessible and adhering to the current version of W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. This commitment should be enforced by the governments with designated trained staff as well as reasonable financial resources. Furthermore, research and development in accessible technology be supported for the low-cost availability of digital products to persons with disability.
- Making educational facilities and curriculum at all levels accessible through an equal delivery mechanism. Developing and delivering university courses on digital accessibility.
- Providing an enabling environment facilitated by accessible digital resources in the public and private sector for creating employment opportunities for people with disability.
- Businesses and the private sector making their online services accessible and adhering to the current version of W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
- International donor agencies and IGOs provide accessible technologies, both hardware and software, to people with disability in their developing country programs. This includes training in the effective and safe use of the Internet.
- Internet organisations welcome people with disability in their deliberations and make their programs and communications accessible. Concurrently, people with disability will build knowledge to proactively and productively participate.
- The accessibility of communication, advertisement and public messaging through the provision of alternate formats.
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