Disability, Human Rights, and Information Technology

Disability, Human Rights, and Information Technology

Disability, Human Rights, and Information Technology

Disability, Human Rights, and Information Technology


Disability, Human Rights, and Information Technology addresses the global issue of equal access to information and communications technology (ICT) by persons with disabilities. The right to access the same digital content at the same time and at the same cost as people without disabilities is implicit in several human rights instruments and is featured prominently in Articles 9 and 21 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The right to access ICT, moreover, invokes complementary civil and human rights issues: freedom of expression; freedom to information; political participation; civic engagement; inclusive education; the right to access the highest level of scientific and technological information; and participation in social and cultural opportunities.

Despite the ready availability and minimal cost of technology to enable people with disabilities to access ICT on an equal footing as consumers without disabilities, prevailing practice around the globe continues to result in their exclusion. Questions and complexities may also arise where technologies advance ahead of existing laws and policies, where legal norms are established but not yet implemented, or where legal rights are defined but clear technical implementations are not yet established.

At the intersection of human-computer interaction, disability rights, civil rights, human rights, international development, and public policy, the volume's contributors examine crucial yet underexplored areas, including technology access for people with cognitive impairments, public financing of information technology, accessibility and e-learning, and human rights and social inclusion.


H. E. Ambassador Luis Gallegos

Information and communication technology (ICT) is changing our world. Ubiquitous mobile telephony, television, computers, tablets, software, websites, the Internet of Things, electronic kiosks, and digital interfaces of home or office appliances have transformed the way human beings communicate, learn, work, and play around the world—not only in the developed North but also among countries in the developing South.

And while the availability of sophisticated information technology used to be restricted to governments and the corporate world, billions of individual users benefit from it today. I personally was educated with paper and pencils, but today, with my family spread around the globe, instant electronic free communications are a daily reality. These would have been unthinkable only a few years ago. On a given day I interact from Quito, Ecuador, with Europe, the Americas, and Asia.

This collection of essays that Jonathan Lazar and Michael Ashley Stein have coedited, Disability, Human Rights, and Information Technology, comes at a very important and timely moment in the quest for inclusive societies. It underlines the imperative to ensure equal access to ICTs among the one billion persons living with disabilities around the world. the challenge is obvious: can anyone participate equally in society today without being able to communicate with a mobile phone, watch important news on tv, have access to emergency communications, or use a computer, e-reader, atm, or website? Are there any activities, from work to education or justice, that can be conducted without interfacing with ICTs?

As is abundantly demonstrated in this book, ICTs can present insurmountable barriers for persons with disabilities or, to the contrary, can offer unprecedented solutions to accommodate persons with sensorial, cognitive, or physical limitations. the good news is that there are solutions . . .

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