‘If anybody asks me what the Internet means to me, I will tell him without hesitation: To me (a quadriplegic) the Internet occupies the most important part in my life. It is my feet that can take me to any part of the world; it is my hands which help me to accomplish my work; it is my best friend – it gives my life meaning.’ -- Dr ZhangXu1
Children with disabilities in developing countries face particular difficulties in accessing the most basic forms of education. They face the lowest levels of access to education of any cohort of students. Of the 75 million children of primary school age worldwide who are out of school, one third are children with disabilities. Information and communication technologies (ICTs), and in particular assistive technologies (ATs), can provide students with disabilities access to traditionally inaccessible educational content through electronic and online learning channels. Connected schools, with the right mix of ATs, can provide children with disabilities unprecedented access to education.
Connected, accessible schools can also be leveraged as community ICT centers, facilitating job-skills training and even providing employment opportunities for youths and adults with disabilities in the wider community. This module will also show how connected, accessible schools can be developed into accessible Multipurpose Community Telecenters (MCTs).
The barriers to education faced by children with disabilities in developing countries are complex. They include barriers associated with societal and attitudinal belief systems that maintain that it is not possible to educate children with a sensory, physical or cognitive disability.
1, this module primarily concentrates on how accessible ICTs
can facilitate connected schools that provide equal access to
education for children with disabilities.
Section 2 examines the situations many persons with
disabilities face in developing countries when trying to receive an
education or job-skills training. Section
3 examines the types of accessible ICTs, ATs and accessible
formats and media that enable an equitable educational experience.
It also examines issues of cost and the development of local and
national technology eco-systems capable of supporting and
sustaining the development of, and training in, accessible ICTs.
Best practices in the development and implementation of ICT
accessible schools are provided in
Section 4. The potential of these schools to be leveraged as
accessible MCTs that provide job-skills training and employment
opportunities is dealt with in
Section 6 provides a checklist of key steps for policy-makers
in ministries of education, communication, local government and
local schools boards to achieve accessible, connected schools.
Section 7 outlines the significant body of international
legislation and policy on the rights of children with disabilities
to an inclusive education in mainstream schools, and the important
role of accessible ICTs in achieving these rights.
8 provides case studies and best practice examples of
accessible ICTs in action, and
Section 9 provides a range of resources for teachers and
Children with disabilities in developing countries face particular difficulties in accessing the most basic forms of education. They face the lowest levels of access to education of any cohort of students. Of the 75 million children of primary school age worldwide who are out of school, one third are children with disabilities.2,3 Information and communication technologies (ICTs), and in particular assistive technologies (ATs), can provide students with disabilities access to traditionally inaccessible educational content through electronic and online learning channels. Connected schools, with the right mix of ATs, can provide children with disabilities unprecedented access to education.
Accessible Information and communication technologies (ICTs) have the potential to provide persons with disabilities unprecedented levels of access to education, skills training and employment, as well as the opportunity to participate in the economic, cultural and social life of their community.
ICTs encompass a wide range of hardware and software, devices and computers, formats and systems that enable communication through electronic means. The definition of ICT covers everything from the storage, processing and retrieval of electronic information to the array of devices and software used to retrieve this information, as well as those used to communicate, in real-time, with other people. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities4 defines communications to include
“Languages, display of text, Braille, tactile communication, large print, accessible multimedia as well as written, audio, plain-language, human-reader and augmentative and alternative modes, means and formats of communication, including accessible information and communication technology”5
�An accessible ICT product or service is one that can be used by all its intended users, taking into account their differing capabilities. A person's ability to make inputs (e.g. type in text) and perceive outputs (e.g. read text on a screen) may be impaired. This can be either permanent or temporary, and may be due to various physical, mental or environmental conditions.6
4Full text of the UN Convention on the Rights of
Persons with Disabilities is available here: http://www.un.org/disabilities/default.asp?navid=13&pid=150
5Article 2 Definitions
To illustrate how all these elements work together to make an accessible experience for a person with a disability, we will look at two scenarios.
Making a call on a mobile phone
A person with a hearing impairment wishes to make a call on a mobile phone. This person uses a piece of assistive technology (AT) called a hearing aid, which helps amplify sounds from the person’s surroundings. An accessible experience is only possible in this instance if the hearing aid and the mobile phone are compatible with one another. If they are not, it is likely that the person will hear a loud whining noise, known as feedback, when the phone is placed near the hearing aid. Once the hearing aid and the phone are compatible, the person can make and receive a phone call in the same way as a person without a hearing impairment.
Browsing a website
Consider a blind person who wishes to browse a website using a personal computer. In this slightly more complicated scenario, the person uses a sophisticated piece of AT called a "screen reader," which is capable of converting text on the computer screen into synthesized speech. The person can also navigate around a website and input text into an online Web form by using this screen reader in conjunction with a standard keyboard. In this scenario, several things must happen for the person to have an accessible experience.
1. A localized version of the screen reader (i.e. adapted to local requirements in terms of language and culture) must be available.7
2. The person must have access to, and be trained, in using the screen reader.
3. The screen reader and the PC must be “interoperable” or compatible -- i.e., the screen-reading software must be able to control the browser and the operating systems on the computer.
4. The Web content on the website the person is browsing must also be designed to be accessible, for which there are international standards.
Once these conditions are in place, it is feasible for a blind
person to access the same content and carry out the same tasks
online as any other person.
The definitions of disability used in national policies, legislation and disability statistics vary significantly throughout the world. Figures on the prevalence of disability worldwide used in this module are based on those from the World Bank.8 The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities recognizes the cultural and economic differences in which these national definitions of disability operate, and does not seek to provide an overarching definition. Instead it simply states:
“Persons with disabilities include those with long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with other[s]”9 (Article 1)
However, the Convention does move toward a view of disability resulting from the barriers within society (such as steps at the entrance of a building for a wheelchair user) and away from the view that disability results exclusively from a person’s medical condition.
Similarly, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) definition of disability, which is contained within its International Classification of Functioning (ICF), Disability and Health, known as ICF, borrows from this social model. It conceptualizes disability as "a dynamic interaction between health conditions (diseases, disorders, injuries, traumas, etc) and contextual factors."10 The ICF model has two components: the first looks at the issues of functioning and disability (the individual’s body functions and structures), while the second part looks at the environment and context in which the person lives and how these factors impact on the individual’s participation in society. It points to a dynamic interaction between health conditions (diseases, disorders, injuries, traumas, etc) and contextual factors. The ICF moves away from the so-called “medial model” notion of an assumed "norm" of human ability and firmly embraces the notion of society as an active agent in the quality of life of the individual.
Defining Accessible ICTs
The term accessible ICTs, as used in this module, covers a full range of assistive and mainstream technologies and formats that can enable a student with a disability to enjoy an inclusive education. Assistive technology (AT) is a “piece of equipment, product system, hardware, software or service that is used to increase, maintain or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.”11
Accessible ICTs include:
Section 4 provide further information on these technologies,
and also discuss issues of affordability, availability,
personalization, interoperability, and accessibility features on
mainstream computers and mobile phones, as well as training and
8World Bank (2007) . Measuring Disability Prevalence, available at http://siteresources.worldbank.org/DISABILITY/Resources/Data/MontPrevalence.pdf
9 Full text of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is available here: http://www.un.org/disabilities/default.asp?navid=13&pid=150
10http://www.who.int/classifications/icf/en/ International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) ICF describes how people live with their health condition. ICF is a classification of health and health related domains that describe body functions and structures, activities and participation. Since an individual's functioning and disability occurs in a context, ICF also includes a list of environmental factors.
11 ISO (2000). Guide 71. Guidelines for
standardization to address the needs of older persons and people
with disabilities. Available at http://www.iso.org/iso/catalogue_detail?csnumber=33987
Note: AT is a generic term that includes assistive, adaptive, and rehabilitative devices for people with disabilities and includes the process used in selecting, locating, and using them. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assistive_technology
A meta-study on research into use of accessible ICTs showed that it brings the following benefits to all stakeholders involved in education, including students, teachers, parents and care-givers:12
Benefits for students:
Benefits for teachers and non-teaching staff:
Benefits for parents and care-givers:
12BECTA ICT Research (2003) What the research says about ICT supporting special educational needs (SEN) and inclusion. Available at http://research.becta.org.uk/upload-dir/downloads/page_documents/research/wtrs_motivation.pdf
The UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities places significant obligations on all state officials responsible for equal access to education and employment opportunities.13 The Convention contains a number of innovative and progressive concepts on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with disabilities.14 The Convention holds that the accessibility of ICTs is equally important as the accessibility of other domains, such as the built environment and transportation.
The Convention moves toward a view of disability resulting from barriers within society (such as steps at the entrance of a building for a wheelchair user) and away from the view that disability results exclusively from a person’s medical condition. This paradigm shift, from the medical to the social model of disability, puts the focus on giving persons with disabilities access to society and its structures -- what is commonly known as "accessibility." A second innovation within the Convention is the position that access to ICTs for persons with disabilities plays a pivotal role in overcoming many of these societal barriers.
The Convention was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 13
December 2006, and became an enforceable legal instrument on the
date when the 20th ratification occurred, 5 May 2008. As of
September 2010, 147 countries had signed the Convention, of which
93 had subsequently ratified it.15
13 Full text of the Un Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is available here: http://www.un.org/disabilities/default.asp?navid=13&pid=150
15Updates on the number of signatories to the Convention, its Optional Protocol and the number of ratifications can be found here: http://www.un.org/disabilities/
Accessibility is the one over-arching general principles contained in Article 3 of the Convention. Article 9 on accessibility specifically mentions access to ICTs as a key enabler for the enjoyment of other rights. such as the right to an inclusive education and the right to work.
The definition of communication in Article 2 states that it includes:
“Languages, display of text, Braille, tactile communication, large print, accessible multimedia as well as written, audio, plain-language, human-reader and augmentative and alternative modes, means and formats of communication, including accessible information and communication technology;”16
The CRPD specifically mentions terms for assistive technology in eight of its articles between Article 4 and Article 32 (i.e., Articles 4, 9, 20, 21, 24, 26, 29, and 32). Measures that could include assistive technology (e.g., "take all appropriate measures") are mentioned in an additional 17 articles.17
Defining Universal Design
The Convention recognizes the risk of exclusion resulting from advances in technology, if the requirements of all end users -- including persons with disabilities -- are not taken into consideration. This is addressed in the Convention through the concept of universal design, which is
“The design of products, environments, programmes and services to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design. ‘Universal design’ shall not exclude assistive devices for particular groups of persons with disabilities where this is needed.” (Article 2)
Article 4 contains a specific recommendation that all new technology developments be “universally designed.” This helps reduce the cost of including accessibility features by incorporating them at the earliest possible stage during the product development cycle.
The Convention also holds that in and of itself, access to information about assistive technologies is important, placing an obligation on government officials
“to provide accessible information to persons with disabilities about mobility aids, devices and assistive technologies, including new technologies, as well as other forms of assistance, support services and facilities” (Article 4 (1) (h))
Article 26, on “habilitation and rehabilitation,” also
emphasizes the importance of the “availability, knowledge and
use of assistive devices and technologies” as they relate to
rehabilitation as a means to attain independence and autonomy
through, among other things, access to education (Article 24) and
employment (Article 27).
16Article 2 (1)
17Borg, J., Lindstrom, A., Larrson, S. “Assistive technology in developing countries: national and international responsibilities to implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities”, available at www.thelancetglobalhealthnetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/Disability-REV-3.pdf
In its preamble, the Convention recalls Article 36 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, which states that everyone has a right to education.
Defining Inclusive Education
The Convention recognizes that access to education is a fundamental right of persons with disabilities. Education is to be provided, wherever possible, in an “inclusive” manner; that is, within the context of the mainstream educational system and not in a segregated setting. Article 24 contains specific obligations that include the provision of “reasonable accommodations” for students with disabilities. These may include, as appropriate, access to (along with training in, and use of) accessible ICTs, including assistive technology and educational materials in an accessible format.
Defining Reasonable Accommodation
As defined in Article 2, reasonable accommodation is a key
enabler for persons with disabilities to enjoy equal rights. .
Reasonable accommodation means the provision of adjustments and
accommodations to ensure that a person with a disability can enjoy
or exercise their human rights on an equal basis with other
individuals. A reasonable adjustment should be both necessary and
appropriate and should not impose a disproportionate burden on the
One example of a reasonable accommodation in the educational context may be the provision of the appropriate assistive technology that is necessary for a person with a disability to access education on an equitable basis with their peers. Article 2 also states that denial of reasonable accommodation is a form of “discrimination on the basis of disability.” Article 5 further emphasizes this by stating, “In order to promote equality and eliminate discrimination, State Parties shall take all appropriate steps to ensure reasonable accommodation is provided.”
Staff Training and Peer Support
Article 24 also contains an important requirement pertaining to the professionals and staff members who work in all areas of education. They should be given “disability awareness training and [training in] the use of appropriate augmentative and alternative modes, means and formats of communication, educational techniques and materials to support persons with disabilities.”
Article 26 (on rehabilitation) emphasizes the importance of peer support. This is particularly relevant in the training in and use of accessible ICTs in educational and job training settings.
Article 27 of the Convention emphasizes the “right of persons with disabilities to work on an equal basis with others; this includes the right to the opportunity to gain a living by work freely chosen or accepted in a labour market, and [a] work environment that is open, inclusive and accessible to persons with disabilities.”18 Article 27 also mandates that “reasonable accommodation be] provided to persons with disabilities in the workplace.”19
19Article 27.1 (i)
Article 4 (2) of the Convention places a specific obligation on government officials to use the framework of international cooperation “with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of these rights.” This obligation is further expanded in Article 32, which significantly recommends that international cooperation be used for the furthering and sharing of knowledge and capacity between nations in relation to “scientific and technical knowledge.” This is particularly relevant to the development of accessible ICT eco-systems, discussed further in Section 4.
Article 9 on Accessibility specifies that “State Parties shall also take appropriate measures to develop, promulgate and monitor the implementation of minimum standards and guidelines for the accessibility of facilities and services open or provided to the public.” (Article 9.2 (a))
Many governments have long used public procurement practices to achieve social inclusion goals. By specifying certain criteria for the good or service being purchased, public authorities can exert a significant influence on the quality of the goods and services for sale in the market. They can also spur innovation within industry to meet these requirements. For example, in the US and Canada public procurement policies require that any ICTs purchased by the federal government to be accessible to persons with disabilities.20 This has had a profound effect on the accessibility of many mainstream products such as computer operating systems, printers and mobile phones. It has given industry an incentive to innovate and provide cost-effective, accessible solutions by making accessibility a competitive criterion in public procurement competitions. So public procurement can be a way to foster standards and enable governments to influence the development and availably of accessible ICTs.
This also impacts on the wider accessible-ICT eco-system by creating a demand, and therefore a capacity within the market, to develop, produce and maintain accessible ICTs. The greater the demand, the lower the ultimate costs are likely to be. Public procurement policy can therefore act a means to promote the development and availability of accessible ICTs.
The role and development of public procurement policy is
discussed further in Section 4.
With regard to accessible ICTs, employment and education, the obligations of government officials under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities are:
Figure 1.1 shows the history of many of the human rights and, more recently information society, conventions and international agreements in support of the use of accessible ICTs in inclusive education.
Figure 1.1 Overview of legal frameworks in support of the use of accessible ICTs in inclusive education
Source: UNESCO (2005)
The following subsections summarize the main initiatives and international organizations with a remit to promote accessible ICTs and inclusive education. Section 8 contains more details on international texts, initiatives and goals in this area.
The World Summit on the Information Society, organized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), established a common vision for building an Information Society for all, and provided a framework to translate that vision into action.21 The WSIS Plan of Action contains many commitments on the development of an Information Society that enables the education, training and employment of persons with disabilities.22 These include:
21World Summit on the Information Society http://www.itu.int/wsis/index.html
22UN/ITU (2003)WSIS, Geneva Plan of Action, available
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is the lead United Nations agency for information and communication issues and is the global focal point for governments and the private sector in developing networks and services.� ITU works to improve the telecommunications infrastructure of the developing world and has a specific strategy on accessibility.� This strategy focuses on:
��������� making technical design standards accessible
��������� supporting the rights of� persons with disabilities,
��������� providing training on accessible ICT
Examples of ITU’s work and collaborations include:
��������� “Total Conversation” – ITU-T Rec.F.703.23�Total Conversation is an ITU service description that covers videophone with real time text.� It is an audiovisual conversation service providing real-time video, text and voice that is not only useful for persons with disabilities but also for anyone requiring textual back-up, technical data, language translations, verbal or signed conversations.
Joint ITU/G3ict “e-Accessibility Policy Toolkit for Persons with Disabilities”. This online toolkit is designed to assist policy makers to implement the ICT accessibility dispositions of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
UNESCO leads the global Education for All movement, aimed at meeting the learning needs of all children, youth and adults by 2015.24 UNESCO promotes the ultimate goal of inclusive education, which it views as a means to ensure a quality education for all and to achieve wider social inclusion goals. Key policy documents and agreements that UNESCO has developed and facilitated include:
UNESCO promotes the development of inclusive schools; that is, schools that “accommodate all children regardless of their physical, intellectual, emotional, social, linguistic or other conditions."28 It views inclusive education not as a synonym for special needs education or integration techniques, but an “as an on-going process in an ever-evolving education system, focusing on those currently excluded from accessing education, as well as those who are in school but not learning.”29
In developing countries, many educational systems struggle to provide a quality education in mainstream schools and favour the development of special needs schools. Worldwide, many countries have developed a two-tier educational system composed of mainstream and special needs schools. UNESCO advocates that whereever possible, children with disabilities should be accommodated in inclusive schools, which it promotes as being more cost-effective and which lead to a more inclusive society.�
26UNESCO Policy guidelines on Inclusive Education http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0017/001778/177849e.pdf
28(Article 3, Salamanca Framework for Action)
29 UNESCO 2008 “UNESCO 48th International Conference
on Education – Reference document” available at
For further discussion on the differences between integration,
special needs and inclusive education see page 8
The UN Children’s fund, UNICEF, works for children’s rights, survival, development and protection.30 It is guided by the 1989 Convention of the Rights of the Child. This international convention contains specific references to the right of children with disabilities to be protected from all forms of discrimination (Article 2). Article 23 directs parties to the Convention to promote a life of dignity, self-reliance and “active participation in the community."
Assistance should be extended to ensure that children with
disabilities receive “education, training, health care services,
rehabilitation services, [and] preparation for employment and
recreation opportunities” (Article 23 (3)). Government officials
are also encouraged to cooperate internationally to ensure that
“information concerning methods of rehabilitation, education and
vocational service” are shared in order to build capacity and
experience in these areas (Article 23 (4)). 31
31United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have set a target of full enrollment and completion of primary school for all children by 2015.32 The 2010 MDG Report showed that while enrollment in primary education has continued to rise, reaching 89 per cent in the developing world, the pace of progress is insufficient to reach the target by 2015.33 To achieve the target, all children of school-going age would have had to be enrolled in primary education by 2009, yet in sub-Saharan African countries, for example, at least one in four children was out of school in 2008.
The 2010 MDG report showed that even in countries that are close
to achieving universal primary education, the percentages of
children with disabilities not enrolled remained disproportionately
high. In Bulgaria and Romania, net enrollment percentages for
children aged 7 to 15 were over 90 per cent in 2002, but only 58
per cent of children with disabilities in that age group were
enrolled in school.
32UN Millennium Development Goals, “Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education” Target “Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling”. http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/education.shtml
The body of international policy and legislation on the rights of persons with disabilities is strongly in support of children with disabilities receiving their education in an inclusive, rather than segregated, school setting. National governments, therefore, have significant human rights and educational work to do in relation to the provision of education for children with disabilities. The major tendency in new policy approaches is towards inclusive education.34 Whatever the policy environment, accessible ICTs can significantly empower children with disabilities to participate in lessons, to communicate, and to learn more effectively.35
34IITE page 17
35BECTA ICT Research (2003) What the research says
about ICT supporting special educational needs (SEN) and inclusion.
“UN Millennium Development Goal 2: Achieve Universal Primary Education
Target 1: Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling”36
Children with disabilities have to combat blatant educational
exclusion. Of the 75 million children of primary school age
worldwide who are out of school, one-third are children with
disabilities.37 UNESCO estimates that 90 per cent of
children with disabilities in developing countries do not attend
school.38 In total, an estimated 186 million children
with disabilities worldwide have not completed their primary school
education.39 Thus, children with disabilities make up
the world’s largest and most disadvantaged minority in terms of
39UNESCO, “Empowering Persons with Disabilities through ICTs”, 2009, available at http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0018/001847/184704e.pdf
There are very few statistical studies that can point to the number of children with disabilities who receive education. Recent reports, such as the Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2010,41 show modest improvements in some countries over some previous reports.42 UNESCO has conducted significant research into the plight of children with disabilities in developing countries. It reports that exclusion from education “is particularly more serious among persons with disabilities, of whom approximately 97 per cent do not have the basic reading and writing skills.”43 Literacy rates are as low as 1 per cent for women with disabilities.44 In its briefing paper on “Children out of School,” UNESCO states that most children with disabilities in developing countries are not attending school, and there is “no inclusion of those with physical, emotional or learning impairments within the education system.”45
42A 2004 report for the World Bank stated that
“estimates of the percent of disabled children and youth who attend
school in developing countries range from less than 1% (Salamanca
Framework for Action) to 5% (Habibi 1999)”. Peters, S, 2004.
“Inclusive Education: An EFA Strategy for all children”. Available
One estimate from China suggests that “there are 8 million disabled children while special schools cater for approximately 130,000” Watkins, K (2000), The OXFAM Education Report. OXFAM. OXFORD cited in UNESCO Children out of School
43UNESCO 2008 “UNESCO 48th International Conference on Education” page 30, available at http://www.ibe.unesco.org/fileadmin/user_upload/Policy_Dialogue/48th_ICE/ICE_FINAL_REPORT_eng.pdf
45UNESCO “Children out of School”, available at
As a result of the low levels of school enrollment and attendance by children with disabilities, the literacy rate for adults with disabilities is just 3 per cent and, in some countries, as low as 1 per cent for women with disabilities.46 Poverty and disability are closely linked. The World Bank estimates that 20 per cent of the poorest people are disabled. An estimated 30 per cent of the world’s street children have a disability. The quality of life of persons with disabilities in developing countries is significantly lower than that of their peers. In most countries, persons with disabilities tend to be regarded as the most disadvantaged sector within their society. Women with disabilities experience exclusion due to both their gender and their disability.
The vast majority of persons with disabilities are cared for exclusively by their families. In developing countries, persons with disabilities are not expected to work and many can only receive an income through begging. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), some 470 million people with disabilities are of working age worldwide.47 Yet, unemployment among the disabled is as high as 80 per cent in some countries.48
48Of the some 70 million persons with disabilities in India, for example, only about 100,000 have succeeded in obtaining employment in industry.�http://www.un.org/disabilities/default.asp?id=18
The reasons that children with disabilities do not attend school in developing countries are complex. It is increasingly accepted that the so-called medical model of disability often serves to stigmatize persons with disabilities while inadequately dealing with wider issues of exclusion from a person’s society, environment and culture. Under the social model of disability, conversely, the main barriers to access for children with disabilities can be summarized as follows:
49The WHO report on “Children out of School” stated that children with disabilities in Uganda are often chased away from school. Though no reasons are given for this, another report on attitudes towards persons with disabilities in Nigeria points to a general belief in most ethnic groups that a person’s disability is a result of a curse from God or an act of witchcraft. EFA Global Monitoring Report 2010 http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0018/001866/186606E.pdf
50�For example, in 2005, just 18 per cent of India’s schools were accessible to children with disabilities, in terms of facilities such as ramps, appropriately designed classrooms and toilets, and transport. EFA Global Monitoring Report 2010 http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0018/001866/186606E.pdf
51(Ackerman et al., 2005).cited in EFA Global Monitoring Report 2010
52(Lang and Murangira, 2009). Cited in EFA Global
Monitoring Report 2010
There is little available data on the exact costs of educating children with disabilities, although some figures show that it can be two to four times higher than for other children.53 UNESCO points to the experience in Europe, where the higher costs associated with educating children with special needs is associated with funding models where children are educated in separate settings such as special needs schools. Lower funding costs were shown to generally apply where the funding "followed" the child into inclusive educational settings. Research also suggests that students with disabilities achieve better school results in inclusive settings.54
There is some evidence to suggest that an inclusive and high-quality educational system leads to lower numbers of students needing to repeat classes and entire academic years. UNESCO has pointed to the case of Latin America, where recidivism is linked with a cost of USD 5.6 billion in primary school and USD 5.5 billion in secondary school.55 Investment to overcome those costs could include the provision of ICTs for students with disabilities.
It has been the experience of many countries that, in line with the UN Convention’s recommendation on Universal Design, incorporating the requirements of students with disabilities into the design of buildings and services reduces costs significantly. In its National Report at International Conference on Education (ICE), the Afghani Ministry for Education reported that“the additional costs of construction [of] schools for all according to the principles of universal design are minimal.”56
UNESCO recommends that any cost modeling of inclusive education
should take into account the high social and economic costs that a
country will incur if its children are not educated.57
UNESCO studies estimate that excluding persons with disabilities
from the work force of a country can cause a loss of gross domestic
product (GDP) of between 10 and 35.8 per cent.58
Overall, the long-term social and financial costs of not providing
an inclusive education that leads to participation in the economic,
social and cultural life of a country are “indisputably high.”
UNESCO concludes that not to invest in inclusive education is
“profoundly irrational” in economic terms.
54UNESCO. Ten questions on inclusive education http://www.unesco.org/en/inclusive-education/10-questions-on-inclusive-quality-education/
55UNESCO. Guidelines for Inclusive Education, page 12
56National Report of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan for the 48th Session of the International Conference on Education, Geneva Switzerland, November 2008 http://www.ibe.unesco.org/National_Reports/ICE_2008/afghanistan_NR08.pdf
57UNESCO 2003 “Overcoming Exclusion through Inclusive Approaches in Education Conceptual Paper” page 13-14
In its 2007 report, “Measuring Disability Prevalence,” the World Bank estimated the number of persons with disabilities at between 10 and 12 per cent of the global population.59 Using the United Nation’s “World Population Prospects 2008,”60 which indicates a global population of slightly more than 6.9 billion people in 2010, Table 2.2 shows the estimated global population of people with disabilities as just under 830 million people (691-829 million people) by the end of 2010. That number is expected to exceed 1 billion (915 million – 1.1 billion) before the midpoint of the 21st century. Statistics show that approximately one in five persons with disabilities are born with their disability, while most acquire it after age 16, mainly during their working lives.61 Approximately 20 per cent of these are children with disabilities.
Table 2.1: Global population of persons with disabilities
Estimates of global population of persons with disabilities
(imputed as 10-12%, in millions)
Estimate of global population of children with disabilities
(imputed as 2-3%, in millions)
Sources: World Population Prospects
2008 cited in ITU/G3ict e-Accessibility Toolkit.
59World Bank - Measuring Disability Prevalence, available at http://siteresources.worldbank.org/DISABILITY/Resources/Data/MontPrevalence.pdf��� Disability figures in this module are based on the World Health Organisation’s estimate that 10 per cents of the world’s population have a disability.
60UN - World Population Prospects 2008, available at http://esa.un.org/unpp
61 Forum on Disability briefing for CSR practitioners, Disabled
employees: Labour standards, an Employers”, Available at www.csreurope.org/csrinfo/csrdisability/Disabledemployees
Many commentators have predicted that the actual figures of persons with disabilities worldwide may be higher than these estimates. Figure 2.2 shows the share of persons 50 years and older by region. Another factor likely to influence the numbers of person with disabilities is the increase in percentages of older people in the world population and the associated prevalence of age-related disabilities.
Figure 2.2: Share of 50+
population by region
Source: World Population Prospects 2008
People are likely to develop new difficulties and impairments as they age – whether they are sensory (vision and hearing), cognitive (thinking and communication) or motor (locomotion, reach and stretch, and dexterity). Likewise, people with existing mild difficulties and impairments may experience an increase in their severity. In any population in which the age profile is getting older, the total number of people with difficulties and impairments will increase.62
The steadily increasing population of people over the age of 65 brings with it a reduction in the “old-age dependency ratio” (ODR).63 The ODR is the ratio of people aged 15-64 in the population per one person aged 65 or older in the population. In 1950 the worldwide ODR was 12:1; in 2000 the ODR was 9:1; by 2050 it is expected to be 4:1 globally. Figure 2.3 shows these dependency ratios for various types of economies.
Figure 2.3 Old Age Dependency Ratios
Source: World Population Prospects 2008
Population data from the UN’s “World Population Prospectus 2008” shows that the less-developed regions (not including the least-developed countries) are projected to have the steepest growth in their old-age dependency ratios over the next 40 years. These regions are likely to experience a 200 per cent increase in the ratio of people over 65 to those of workforce age (age 15-64) between 2000 and 2050, as compared to the slightly more than 100 per cent increase predicted for the more developed regions and the slightly less than 100 per cent increase in the least-developed countries.
The bottom line is that many
developing regions in the world will experience a steep increase in
the numbers of people working to support those not working due to
old age. With an increasing dependency ratio comes an increasing
requirement for workforce productivity. Enabling persons with
disabilities to access education -- and ultimately become employees
through the use of accessible ICTs --will help offset this
increasing dependency. The ITU/G3ict “e-Accessibility Policy
Toolkit for Persons with Disabilities” provides guidance to
policy-makers on calculating the benefits to a national economy of
a more productive workforce enabled through the use of accessible
62Anne-Rivers Forcke, IBM, in ITU/G3ict “e-Accessibility Policy Toolkit for Persons with Disabilities”
63United Nation’s Programme on Ageing
64 ITU/G3ict, “e-Accessibility Policy Toolkit for Persons with Disabilities”, Increasing productivity, available at http://www.e-accessibilitytoolkit.org/toolkit/who_benefits/global_demographics
Accessible ICTs hold the potential to enable persons with disabilities to receive an education and become productive employees. Applied to education systems, accessible ICTs can provide equitable learning opportunities by enabling communication with teachers and fellow students, providing access to learning materials and by establishing a venue to complete course work, assignments and examinations. There are a wide variety of accessible ICTs currently available that can help overcome reduced functional capacity and enable communication, cognition and access to computers. Students with disabilities also require educational texts and online resources that are available in accessible formats.
Categories of assistive technologies (ATs) include stand-alone devices that aid mobility (e.g. wheelchairs) and communication (e.g. hearing aids). They also include hardware and software that enable access to a computer (e.g. an adaptive keyboard or screen reader). This section deals primarily with ATs that relate directly to a person’s ability to access a computer and participate effectively in an inclusive learning environment. Other concerns, such as accessibility of the building or computer workstations are also addressed.
A catalogue of ATs for ICT compiled for this module is a superset of the ISO/IEC FDIS 24751 Individualized Adaptability and Accessibility in e-Learning, Education and Training standard, which was created to facilitate the matching of individual user needs and preferences with educational digital resources that meet those needs and preferences.
Identifying the best assistive technology solution often requires an in-depth needs assessment to understand how a difficulty or impairment impacts computer use and/or access to an educational resource. The need for centers of expertise in AT is dealt with Section 4.
Ability as a spectrum
To begin to understand the complex variety of functional limitations that persons with disabilities experience, it is necessary to first appreciate the changing nature of human capability. No two people, whether with or without a disability, have exactly the same capabilities. Moreover, an individual’s ability to carry out a task can change according to a number of factors, including physical and mental fatigue, their environment and context of use. Consider, for example, a person with average eyesight trying to read a computer screen in an environment where very bright sunlight is reflected off the screen. It may be difficult or even impossible for that person to read the screen. A person may also experience reduced cognitive ability if working while fatigued or in a noisy or distracting environment. So it is important to view personal abilities to use ICTs as a spectrum that changes according to a wide range of factors.65 Thus, we can say the following:
o Functional limitations resulting
from physical, psychiatric or psychological conditions;
o Limitations in the design of an environment, product or ICT, and
o Barriers associated with the attitudes of people and society; and
Educational Needs of children with disabilities
The special educational requirements of children with disabilities caused by a functional limitation are often called special educational needs (SENs), and they are both diverse and varied. UNESCO groups the roles that ICTs can play into three main categories:
The following sections discuss the main categories of physical,
sensory and cognitive disabilities and refer to best practices for
ensuring that accessible ICTs enable learning in an inclusive
65 http://www.who.int/classifications/icf/en/ International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) ICF describes how people live with their health condition. ICF is a classification of health and health related domains that describe body functions and structures, activities and participation. Since an individual's functioning and disability occurs in a context, ICF also includes a list of environmental factors.
66UNESCO IITE ICTs in Eudcation for People with Special Needs. http://www.iite.ru/pics/publications/files/3214644.pdf
Physical disabilities and motor impairments may result from traumatic injuries, such as spinal cord damage, or the loss of limbs due to diseases and congenital conditions such as Cerebral Palsy, arthritis or Parkinson’s disease. A range of issues should be considered to enable access for people with physical disabilities and motor impairments to a computer in a learning environment. These include (but are not limited to) the correct type of assistive technology, as well as the accessibility of the workstation and the building.
For some users, using a standard keyboard and mouse is possible,
but due to tremor or low fine motor skills, default settings on the
computer need to be adjusted to avoid continual errors. For other
individuals, an alternative pointing or input device, such as a
roller ball or switch, may be required. Users who are unable to
access a keyboard using their hands or arms but have good head,
neck and upper torso control may be able to type on the keyboard
using a mouthstick or head/chin pointer.
Mouse Alternatives and Replacements
Trackballs, joysticks and various forms of tablets are frequently easier to control than a mouse. The mouse pointer may also be controlled using head movements, which are tracked using infrared or ultrasound technology. Buttons on many alternative pointing devices can be programmed to perform a double click or to lock down the mouse button for a drag. Mouse buttons can be replaced with switches (e.g., puff-sip switches, foot pedal switches, etc.) or with software that performs the mouse click, double click, and drag by dwelling on a target for a predetermined time and then moving the mouse cursor in one of four directions.
The mouse pointer can be controlled using keys on the numeric keypad, or keys on an on-screen keyboard. Mouse emulators exist for single-switch users and users of voice recognition systems. These emulators employ a variety of strategies to quickly zero-in on the target.
Figure 3.1 An arthritic hand trying to use a standard mouse
Keyboard Modifications and Alternatives
Free software or operating-system modifications allow changes to be made to keyboard responses by slowing response time, eliminating or slowing key repeat rates and holding keys used in multiple key depressions when selected sequentially. Standard keyboards are also available with on-board memory for text or command macros. Mainstream alternatives include keyboards that are smaller, more ergonomically shaped, provide more efficient keyboard layouts (e.g., DVORAK or QWERTY) and have built-in trackballs or other mouse alternatives.
Specialized keyboards have been developed to accommodate a variety of individual needs. Miniaturized keyboards accommodate those with limited range of movement or strength. These may have mouse emulation as a built-in feature. Enlarged keyboards are more suited to person with poor motor control but adequate range of movement. Programmable keyboards allow for customization of the keyboard layout (key content, key size), with individualized overlays depicting the key contents for the user. Keys may also be programmed with mouse emulation functions.
Numerous on-screen keyboard software programs allow the user to select keystrokes (e.g., letters, words, commands, phrases) using a mouse or mouse emulation.
Switch input devices can be used by persons who are unable to use a keyboard or mouse but who have good control of some other muscle groups. Switches can be used to emulate keyboard and mouse functions. Single, dual or three-switch input of Morse code, for example, can be translated by a hardware and/or software interface into keyboard and mouse inputs to the computer.
Figure 3.2 A single switch mounted on a wheelchair 67
Voice recognition of commands or text input is available with some operating systems. Continuous speech voice recognition software that provides text input, mouse control and software application control, including optional levels of vocabulary and macros for various professions or specialty groups, is also available. Although voice models in the system allow the recognition of words without explicit training, each user has their own voice model file, which should be adjusted to allow optimal recognition. Proper maintenance of the voice model requires vigilance to errors made by the user and the system and proper correction of the errors. Most voice dictation systems have very large dictionaries, but the user must add proper names and specialized vocabulary. Several dictation systems rely on mouse controls to navigate the desktop and dictation functions.
Augmentative and Alternative Communication
Many people with a severe physical disability may also have
speech impairments. Augmentative and alternative communication
(AAC) is a way of communicating, not only for those with speech
impairment but also for those with difficulty in comprehending
spoken or written language.68 AAC strategies vary from
the use of symbols or gestures to the use of AAC devices such as
(a) text-to-speech generating (Fig 3.3) devices and (b) speech
generating (Fig 3.4) devices. While AAC strategies and devices are
not an integral part of enabling computer access, they are
essential in enabling two-way communication in an inclusive
education, job-skill training or work environment with teachers,
trainers, fellow students and work colleagues.
Fig 3.3 Keyboard text-to-speech generating device69
Fig 3.4 Speech generating device
The following video shows how Ellen, an AT user, uses switches and an AAC device to communicate, access a computer and control her surroundings at home and at college.
67Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Access_device.JPG Debbie L OU
International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communications (ISAAC) http://www.isaac-online.org/en/publications/index.html
In addition to providing the correct assistive technology, it is important that the design of the building does not present a barrier. To ensure that a school, training center or community center is accessible to persons with disabilities, builders should refer to appropriate building accessibility guidelines and national or regional building regulations. However, the following checklist provides some of the main areas to consider:
The path to the computer workstation must be free from obstacles such as steps, bins or furniture that would obstruct the progress of users who are either walking or using a mobility aid such as a wheelchair. This includes the path into any room or area containing the computer workstation. The user should be able to operate the computer from a clear, flat area with at least a 1.5 meter radius directly in front of the computer workstation to enable a wheelchair to turn (Fig 3.5). Ensure that users of all heights can reach all operable parts. The comfortable range is between 1200 and 900mm. The maximum acceptable reach height for wheelchair users is 1400mm (See Figure.3.6). There should be adequate lighting.
The United Nations has a useful set of anthropometrical data covering ranges of height and reach when standing or sitting in a wheelchair, plus required path and turning space dimensions for wheelchairs.71
Figure 3.5 Wheelchair clearance and turning circle72
Figure 3.6 Common reach zones73
Physical access to the computer itself is also a key consideration. Physical access may be improved by simply repositioning the user or the computer system. This can be accomplished by using height-adjustable chairs, computer tables, keyboard trays, or monitor arms. Many of these solutions can be quite costly, but by adhering to the principles of ergonomic design for workstations, it should be possible in many situations to adjust an existing workstation to better suit the needs of an individual.74 Providing additional stabilizers or supports may improve control and reduce the risk of repetitive strain injuries.
70National Disability Authority, “Building for Everyone - Inclusion, Access and Use” http://www.nda.ie/cntmgmtnew.nsf/0/EBD4FB92816E8BB480256C830060F761?OpenDocument
72Irish National IT Accessibility Guidelines, Public Access Terminals. National Disability Authority. http://universaldesign.ie/useandapply/ict/itaccessibilityguidelines/publicaccessterminals/guidelines/priority-1/1-14
73Irish National IT Accessibility Guidelines, Public Access Terminals. National Disability Authority. http://universaldesign.ie/useandapply/ict/itaccessibilityguidelines/publicaccessterminals/guidelines/priority-1/1-1
7412 ergonomic guidelines adapted from Cornell
University studies help improve your computer working environment
There are an estimated 180 million people worldwide who have a visual impairment. Of these, 45 million persons are blind and 135 million have partial sight.75 Legal blindness is defined in many countries as a condition in which the best corrected visual acuity is 20/200, or less, or the person's visual field is 20 degrees or less.76 Vision impairments include colour blindness, and vision disorders include cataracts, trachoma, glaucoma and macular degeneration.77
75Lighthouse International, available at
World Health Organization, November 2004, "Fact sheet 282: Magnitude and causes of visual impairment, available at http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs282/en/ " World Health Organization, November 2004
76The WebAim Guide to Web Accessibility (2005) Available from the WebAIM project at http://www.webaim.org/products/training/
77For a further list of vision disorders see http://www.lighthouse.org/about-low-vision-blindness/vision-disorders/
Blind persons and persons with vision impairment can use a variety of assistive technologies to access computers and electronic content.
Fig 3.7 Example of a Notetaker with an 18 cell Braille display, 9 buttons of Braille dot based input, a speaker and audio jack for audio output79
The following video shows a demonstration of the BrailleNote computer.��
The following video is a basic overview of the JAWS screen reader.�
78For a comparison of Notetakers versus laptop
computers for the blind, please see http://nfb.org/legacy/bm/bm03/bm0304/bm030407.htm
For further information on Notetakes and Accessible PDAs please see http://www.myflorida.com/dbs/assistive-technology/notetakers.php
79Device shown is a BrailleNote from HumanWare
Students with vision impairments or print disabilities80 (i.e. cannot perceive written text) may require information to be made accessible in a variety of formats and ways:
o Word-processed documents - Such as those produced by MS Word and OpenOffice Writer
o Talking books – Either narrated by a human or converted automatically into synthesized speech (a Digital Talking Book). Free online service and downloadable services are available to convert text files into synthesized speech audio files in formats such as MP3.
o Accessible HTML82 or PDF83
o DAISY (Digital Accessible Information System) Digital Talking Book (DTB) – a DAISY DTB can include audio (human or synthesized) speech, which can be navigated, and a synchronized text version of the book. Depending on its configuration, a DAISY DTD can be listened to on a computer or standalone audio player, rendered using a refreshable Braille display, read on screen or listened to with synchronized text displayed on screen.
o ePub – an open standard for
eBooks used on some popular eBook players.
80Print disabled: A person who cannot effectively
read print because of a visual, physical, perceptual,
developmental, cognitive, or learning disability. http://www.daisy.org/glossary/12#term325
The development of educational content in any of the formats designed to assist the blind and vision-impaired requires needs assessment at the earliest stages of content development. While cost is a major consideration in resource-limited countries, no studies are available on the relative costs of production and consumption of content in different accessible formats. Each format has different cost implications. For example, Braille printers cost between USD 1,800 (for low volume) and USD 80,000 (for high volume models).85 Even though audio books and DAISY books can be produced at no cost using free software, the distribution of that content may require the student to have access to a laptop or specialized audio player such as a DAISY reader -- bringing a cost to the end user.
The following issues should be considered:
Whatever the format used, it is imperative that the needs of the
students are assessed through consultation with the students and
their families or advocates. Several resources for the development,
production and distribution of accessible electronic content in
educational settings are provided in Section 9.
88Numbers of blind children learning Braille in US down from 50 per cent in 1950s to 10 per cent today
One of the principle pieces of Braille equipment used by schools and universities is a Braille printer. Translation software converts an electronic text file into Braille code -- either grade 1 or 2. Grade 2 Braille contains contractions of commonly used combinations of words and letters. The Braille printer uses Braille code to emboss the Braille dots onto the paper, which generally heavier than inkjet printer paper. Interpoint printers can emboss Braille on both sides of the paper.
Braille printers vary greatly in price. The main difference between printers is the volume of Braille they can produce. Quality Braille production also requires some level of training and knowledge of Braille, the translation software, and use of a Braille printer. So it may not be practical for all schools using Braille for their students to run and maintain a Braille printer. When choosing a Braille printer, considerations should include:
Costs – It may be cheaper to run a larger Braille printer in a central location that will serve a number of schools than to run and maintain multiple smaller printers. Consideration should also be given to the cost of other high-tech solutions such as a screen reader.
case study from Kenya in which laptops and ATs for blind
students were provided by an international aid organization and an
AT vendor at a reduced rate to university students. The laptops and
ATs were provided at a cost of USD 250, compared with USD 400 for a
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines deafness as complete loss of the ability to hear from one or both ears. This is profound hearing impairment -- 81 dB or greater hearing threshold, averaged at frequencies 0.5, 1, 2, 4 kHz. The WHO defines hearing impairment as a complete or partial loss of the ability to hear from one or both ears. This represents mild or worse hearing impairment of a 26 dB or greater hearing threshold, averaged at frequencies 0.5, 1, 2, 4 kHz.91 Some 250 million people in the world are estimated as having a disabling hearing impairment.92
The barriers encountered by children with a hearing impairment in inclusive schools relate primarily to communication.
Assistive technologies for hearing
The predominant AT used by people with a hearing impairment is a hearing aid. Hearing aids amplify sound from the surrounding environment, but may also be used to amplify signals produced by a T-loop system.93 A T-loop picks up audio from a microphone and transmits a signal within the area of a wire loop directly to a compatible hearing aid.
Issues encountered by deaf people when using a computer to access electronic content relate primarily to audio. Captioning is the rendering of speech and other audible information in the written language of the audio. Captions can be closed, meaning that they are encoded and can be toggled on or off if the user’s browser or media player can decode them. Or, they are open -- they are presented at the same time as the visual content. Captions are more sophisticated than subtitles, which are suited for hearing people who do not understand the language of the content. Captions may provide meta-information about who is speaking or the tone of the voice, and they can denote other sounds that occur on the sound-track of the content.
World Wide Web authors are becoming aware of the need to develop caption and file formats that accommodate a captioning track. Caption-authoring packages are available to add multimedia, overlay captioning to computer-based video.94 The online video-sharing website YouTube has introduced an automatic captioning service.95
Text transcripts or captions for learning resources or training materials enable access to these materials by literate students with hearing impairments. Text captions also aid comprehension by students whose first language is that not that of the course material.
Many deaf people96 use sign language, which they may consider to be their first language. Sign language may also be used in audio/visual materials, with a sign language interpreter appearing in the bottom right corner of the screen to provide a sign language interpretation of the speech in the audio track.
The following video shows how the use of captions and audio descriptions are essential for both deaf and blind students in the use of educational materials.
91World Health Organisation http://www.who.int/pbd/deafness/facts/en/
93A T-loop is a wire fixed around a designated listening area connected to a power source, an amplifier and a microphone. The microphone picks up sound from the sound source (which may be a television, a bank official or an actor in a theatre) and carries the sound to the amplifier which, in turn, sends the sound signal in the form of a current around the loop. A hearing aid user whose hearing aid has the 'T' facility, picks up the signal by moving a switch to the 'T' position. http://www.deafhear.ie/documents/pdf/04SG1207.pdf
94WebAim article on “Software for creating captions” http://www.webaim.org/techniques/captions/software.php
95Note: this service is still in beta (test) and has a low rate of accuracy http://www.google.com/support/youtube/bin/answer.py?answer=100077
96Include note on deaf culture and Deaf with a
The “Disabled World” project proposes two main classifications of cognitive disabilities – namely, functional or clinical disability.97 Clinical categories of cognitive disabilities include autism and Down Syndrome. Less severe cognitive conditions include the sub-category of so-called learning disabilities, such as dyslexia (reading) and dyscalculia (mathematics). The functional disability perspective ignores the medical and behavioural causes of cognitive disabilities and focuses instead on the abilities and challenges the person with a cognitive disability faces. Functional cognitive disabilities may involve difficulties or deficits involving:
o Math comprehension,
o Visual comprehension,
o Linguistic (speech), and
o Verbal comprehension.
It is somewhat more useful to consider the use of accessible ICTs to aid cognitive impairments from the functional disability perspective. ICT can play a major role in enabling access to education for all types of cognitive impairments. The following list shows the benefits that access to ICTs can bring to people within the wide spectrum of learning disabilities.98 These include:
In addition to these computer-based activities, the use of augmentative and alternative communication strategies and devices, particularly those employing symbols, can aid communication for persons with more profound and multiple learning impairments.
97Webaim Project [WWW document] http://www.webaim.org/techniques
(retrieved 1 March 2008)
98http://www.bltt.org/index.htm Charlie Danger is a freelance technology assessor and occupation al therapy (OT) student at Brighton University
99MS Word or OpenOffice
The clear position of the United Nations, UNESCO and the WSIS Plan of Action is that children with disabilities should be able to receive an inclusive education through the use of accessible ICTs. National policies should avoid the development of a two-tier educational system consisting of ‘normal’ schools and special schools for children with disabilities. Section 2 showed that funding models for special schools are likely to incur twice the costs of educating children in inclusive schools. Similarly, it was shown that the cost of including accessibility in the development of school buildings, software and equipment procurement can significantly reduce the overall costs of accommodating these requirements.
The budget required to equip inclusive schools with accessible ICTs should be established by education ministries and local education authorities in close consultation with students, their families and advocates and relevant disabled persons’ organizations. Careful research should be carried out to establish which ICTs are most required. Schools that accommodate the needs of their students with disabilities will likely have more need for Internet access. Economies associated with bulk purchasing should be realized through centralized procurement, using appropriate public procurement policies wherever possible. However, each school should be equipped according to the needs of that school’s children. Blanket provision of AT should be avoided in favour of each school defining its own requirements.
Within resource-limited countries, careful research and planning
is required to help prioritize the main types of support and AT
required. The main challenge is to “make products and services
available, accessible and affordable”.101 Consideration
should be given to reducing or waiving import duties and taxes on
the ICTs required to enable persons with disabilities to access an
equitable education. An AT ecosystem is needed to ensure that the
infrastructure, personnel and products are available. Assessment
and support services, such as installation, training and follow-up
(to ensure safe and efficient use) are an important part of this
ecosystem. The next section deals with the development and
implementation of accessible ICTs within an inclusive school
system, and the stakeholders and roles involved in the development
of a sustainable AT ecosystem.
101Borg, J., Assistive technology in developing countries: national and international responsibilities to implement the Convention on the rights of Persons with Disabilities. Available at http://www.thelancetglobalhealthnetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/Disability-REV-3.pdf
“Ensuring that children with disabilities enjoy opportunities for learning in an inclusive environment requires changes in attitude, backed by investment in teacher training and learning equipment”. Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2010102
The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities contains very specific guidance on the rights of persons with disabilities to enjoy equal access to education, job training and employment. The Convention places a particular emphasis on the provision of accessible ICTs as a key enabler to the enjoyment of these rights. Any policy to implement accessible ICTs in connected schools should be developed within the framework of the Convention, and should be based on the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) principles, actions and targets, with due regard to national and regional conditions.
In Section 1 and Section 2, inclusive education – the enrollment of children in mainstream classrooms --was shown to offer a cost-effective approach to reaching the large numbers of children with disabilities in developing countries. Inherent in inclusive education is the notion that reforms and improvements should not only focus on children with disabilities but on “whole-school improvement in order to remove barriers that prevent learning for all students.”103 This section outlines good practices in policy development for the introduction of accessible ICTs in connected schools. It provides principles and elements that can be incorporated into educational policy reforms in any developing country.
Inclusive education cannot be built and delivered all at one
time.104 To develop sensible and practical policy that
is properly embedded into the educational and assistive technology
(AT) environment of a country, policy-makers must consider how to
transition from their current model to an inclusive model. This
will involve considering the development of a national-level
statement of principles, intentions, means, objectives and
timetables relating to the provision of accessible ICTS in
inclusive schools. Evidence-based policy on the successful
provision and use of ICTs will require identifying the gaps as they
currently exist; research into the current landscape is
102http://www.unesco.org/en/efareport page 12
103Global eSchools and Community Initiative (GeSCI). 2007. Concept note: Developing a model for inclusive education and assistive technology appropriate for teaching and learning contexts in developing countries. Available at http://www.gesci.org/old/files/docman/model_ie_at.pdf
104Lynch, P. (2007) External Trends on
Education. (Sightsavers international (internal document).
Cited in GeSCI page 6.
National “e-strategies,” framed within the WSIS Principles and Goals (Section 8), include policy areas such as connectivity, (e.g. broadband rollout), capacity building (e.g. training in use of ICTs for all sectors of society, including teachers and persons with disabilities), and education (provision of ICTs in schools). Policies and programmes in support of accessible ICTs in connected schools will therefore cut across several policy areas, including:
UNESCO’s Institute for Information Technology in Education (IITE) views policy development for the use of accessible ICTs in schools as a “complex proposition based on the principle that technology is not only a tool,” it also requires “a shift in the focus from technology provision to the design of learning environments.”105 Policy development has, therefore, moved from an exclusive focus on the provision of hardware and software to the effective use of ICTs in different educational contexts. UNESCO suggests four stages for the successful integration of accessible ICTs in an inclusive educational environment. This includes the design and development of the accessible ICTs, their implementation and improvement, and the assessment of their benefits (Fig 4.1)
Figure 4.1 Stages for policy development
Source: UNESCO IITE
Based on these four stages, UNESCO IITE provides a useful listing of policy activities that policy- makers can undertake under each of these headings, plus a range of indicative sources of evidence and information for each.106 See Checklist for policy makers.
105UNESCO IITE ICTs in Education for People with Special Needs. http://www.iite.ru/pics/publications/files/3214644.pdf page 95
106UNESCO IITE page 96-97
In conjunction with the four stages of policy development, policy-makers should consider several key elements. Based on a study by the European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education,107 the following six elements are particularly important for national-level accessible ICT policies:
Policy-makers will have to undertake a small number of research studies to support the development of effective policy.108 Very little is known about the provision of ATs in developing countries at present, other than it is very low - only 3 per cent of the number of hearing aids required in any one year become available in that year.109 It is likely that these research efforts will significantly improve the quality and effectiveness of policy measures.
Research into the attitudes of teachers, students and their families or care-givers toward the use and benefits of accessible ICTs will also be necessary. The pedagogical preferences and skills of teachers should be established. Research should also establish the competency of teachers and school systems to develop accessible learning resources and what training supports they may need.
The existence of relevant services already in place should also be established. These include the existence of community-based rehabilitation services, teacher training programmes, and facilities to produce low-tech solutions such as school books in Braille.110
In order to develop evidence-based policy, research will be required on:
108 Borg, J. et al. Assistive Technology in developing countries: national and international responsibilities to implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Available at www.thelancetglobalhealthnetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/Disability-REV-3.pdf
109WHO. 2004. Guidelines for hearing aids and services for developing countries. Available at http://whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/2004/9241592435_eng.pdf
110Casely-Hayford, L.; Lynch, P. A review of good
practice in ICT and special educational needs for Africa.
Available at http://www.eldis.org/assets/Docs/14727.html.
The report cites Ghana’s Material Resource Centre for the Disabled
as an example of a centre which produces learning material for
children with disabilities.
A range of organizations and stakeholders will be responsible for policy implementation. Overall responsibility will likely lie at the ministerial or regional government level, depending on the size and autonomy of regions. Stakeholders will include:
One of the primary aims of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is to place persons with disabilities at the center of relevant policy development. The ITU/G3ict e-Accessibility Policy Toolkit provides practical tips on conducting accessible meetings and conferences. The ITU/G3ict Toolkit also suggests that “representatives of persons with disabilities can facilitate the administration of surveys needed to obtain data about accessible ICT and assistive technology needs.” It is essential that the needs of children with disabilities, as well as the needs of their teachers, parents and care-givers are systematically gathered and taken into consideration at all stages of the development of policy on the use of accessible ICTs in connected schools.
While policy-development methodologies will vary from country to country and are dependent on the level (national, regional, local) at which they are developed, some special considerations should be taken into account when developing policies for persons with disabilities. The following considerations from the Centre for Internet and Society111 in India will help policy-makers to design policies that help persons with disabilities more effectively:
111Policy Formulation for Internet and Electronic Accessibility for Persons with Disabilities, Ms. Nirmita Narasimhan, Programme Manager, Centre for Internet and Society http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/asp/CMS/Events/2009/PwDs/programme.asp#Nirmita
The policy framework should monitor and evaluate outcomes and the cost-effectiveness of the provision of accessible ICTs. The monitoring of outcomes should incorporate:
The overall cost-benefit analysis of provding accessible ICTs to the inclusive educational agenda within a country should also refer to:
See more on the wider costs of exclusion.
If the real potential of ICT for pupils’ learning is to be reached, teachers will first have to be convinced of the value of using ICT.112
Pre-service and in-service teacher-education programmes on accessible ICTs are essential if teachers are to attain the pedagogical capacity necessary to make accessible ICTs a viable option for mainstreaming children with disabilities in inclusive schools. The availability of appropriate support structures for implementing accessible ICTs in an inclusive school setting has been stressed as being as important for many teachers as the provision of the appropriate hardware and software.113
The UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies (IITE) provides an in-depth resource on the training of teachers in the use of accessible ICTs for Special Needs Education (SNE). This training comprises four modules covering (1) an overview of the place of accessible ICTs in SNE, (2) ATs for students with disabilities, (3) the use of ICTs in distance education for students with special educational needs and (4) the role of policy in the implementation of ICT in SNE.
Figure 4.2 UNESCO IITE ICTs
in Education for People with Special
While it is not necessary for teachers to have in-depth knowledge of assistive technologies and devices, it is important that they receive supported in developing educational material and resources that are accessible for all students.
Another key resource is the report “A review of good practice in ICT and Special Educational Needs for Africa.” Commissioned by the Ghanaian Ministry of Education in 2003, this report contains suggestions for curriculum development, training of teachers and practical advice on such things as setting up a resource room for the use of ICTs.
The section on technical resources has a range of resources for teachers to become familiar with the use of ATs and accessible formats in the classroom curriculum. Those resources could be incorporated into both pre- and in-service training for teachers. Policy-makers should also consider supporting and funding the development of distance learning courses in the use of accessible ICTs in inclusive classrooms for in-service training of teachers.
One of the first things teachers should learn is about the accessibility features in technologies they already know and use. The Microsoft guide “Accessibility: A Guide for Educators” provides information about accessibility and accessible technology to help educators worldwide ensure that all students have equal access to learning with technology. The guide provides:
Links to resources on using the accessibility features of other major operating systems such as Apple OS X and Linux are available on the e-Accessibility Policy Toolkit website.�
114UNESCO IITE ICTs in Education for People with
Special Needs. http://www.iite.ru/pics/publications/files/3214644.pdf
UNESCO defines curriculum as “what is learned and what is taught (context): how it is delivered (teaching – learning methods); how it is assessed (exams, for example); and the resources used (e.g. books used to deliver and support teaching and learning).”115 Curriculum development and teaching practices have received much attention in the movement toward inclusive education. In general, curriculum in inclusive schools must be “flexible and adaptable, designed to reduce environmental barriers of students who may disadvantage [sic] from regular education.”116
Accessible ICTs can help transform static curriculum resources into flexible digital media that students with a variety of abilities can access once they have the appropriate AT. For example, class notes developed in electronic text can be converted into a variety of formats such as audio, Braille, accessible HTML, DAISY audio book etc. Assessment methods need to be flexible and adaptable to students’ needs.
The introduction of any new ICT or AT should be complemented by sufficient technical support in order to reduce the stakes of abandonment. The mostly likely source of this ongoing support is through centers of specialized knowledge located within local or regional school networks.
It is important to differentiate between (a) the specialized support and training required by both students and teachers in the use of specific ATs in classroom settings and (b) the use of accessible ICTs generally to improve access to curriculum. For example, in the Kenyan case study, blind students were given specific training in the use of screen-reading technology before they were able to use the technology to access educational materials in the mainstream classroom.117 However, once this training was received, teachers were then required to provide learning materials in a format (electronic) that was compatible with the screen reader. Therefore, in line with the principles of Universal Design, national policies on curriculum development should require that learning resources, such as text books, be made available in alternate formats.
In general, a connected school that uses accessible ICTs to enable students with disabilities to receive an education in an inclusive environment will need to adopt the use of ICT in all areas of curriculum development. While it is beyond the scope of this toolkit to make specific recommendations on curriculum development, UNESCO identifies four key curriculum areas through which ICT skills and literacy can be improved. These are:
(i) ICT literacy – ICT skills
are taught and learned as a separate subject.
(ii) Application of ICTs in subject areas – ICT skills are developed within separate subjects.
(iii) Infusing ICTs into the entire curriculum – ICTs are integrated or embedded across all subjects of the curriculum.
(iv) ICT specialization – ICTs are taught and learned as an applied subject to train for a profession.118
116UNESCO IITE page 110
118UNESCO (2002). Information and Communication
Technology in Education: a Curriculum for Schools and Programme of
Teacher Development, Paris. Online: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0012/001295/129538e.pdf
Cited in UNESCO IITE page 111
As advised above, the procurement of assistive technology (AT) should be informed by research into the needs and requirement of individual schools and students. An effective needs assessment model will identify the appropriate AT to suit an individual user’s needs. (See section on technical resources for resources on needs assessment and AT). The Assistive Technology Decision Tree by UnumProvident provides a process by which to pick the correct choice of AT based on a person’s functional limitations.119
Needs assessment should be carried out by qualified personnel with expertise in AT. The assessment may be carried out by a specialist visiting the school, in consultation with the child’s teacher, family and care-givers, or at an existing community rehabilitation facility. Once the needs assessment has identified the AT requirements of the student, these requirements should be formally communicated to the educational authorities. Whatever the funding strategies and level of AT provision by the school system, it is imperative that this clear statement of a child’s AT requirements be recognized and achieved over time.
Teachers, parents and children with disabilities need accurate
information on the types and ranges of ATs available. Policy-makers
should consider developing national databases on the types of ATs
available, as well as lists of suppliers. This will also help
identify gaps in the availability of certain ATs in any given
The provision of accessible ICTs and the introduction of support services, such as teacher training and student needs assessment, will require significant funding, which may present a challenge to some governments in developing countries. Key funding areas will include the provision of assistive technology (AT), related specialized support services for students, and teacher training.
One of the key research findings on ATs in developing countries is the need for a sustainable funding model. While the initial capital needed to provide the equipment and software is of course necessary, it is vital that consideration also be given to ongoing support and maintenance of this equipment. The following best practices are based on the case studies in this module; they point to a variety of funding strategies and partners. These partners include government (national and regional), educational authorities, private industry (local and international), and international aid organizations.
Provision of subsidized AT from AT vendors and charitable organizations
Several projects around the world provide computers and other ATs to schools and telecenters in developing countries, at a significantly reduced rate or for free. Charitable organizations and multinational companies provide heavily subsidized or free laptops and computers with ATs. In one project supported by Sight Savers International, 45 refurbished laptops, supplied by ComputerAid (the UK based PC recycling charity), and flash drives containing screen readers and magnifiers by Dolphin (the UK based assistive technology developer) were provided to blind students at Kenyatta University in Nairobi. At a cost of USD 250 for each laptop and flash drive, the prices “compare very well with Braillers and Braille books.”120 See more on this in the case study from Kenya.
In comparison to this approach, the POETA project, based in Latin America and the Caribbean, works with local non-governmental organizations over a longer term to develop IT training centers that contain ATs and provide job-training skills to persons with disabilities (see POETA case study). This longer- term approach works to develop accessible IT training centers, with the ultimate of making them self-sustaining. One study of the POETA centers found that participants, at least anecdotally, were willing to pay a nominal fee to attend the courses.121
This study also found that while the cost of AT is a significant barrier to access for persons with disabilities in developing countries, it is critical that funding strategies go beyond “parachuting-in technology” and look to support projects that will empower persons with disabilities through long-term access to AT.122 This presents a significant challenge from the ”corporate social responsibility” perspective, whereby funding and/or technology are often provided on a once-off basis.123
Therefore, whatever funding strategy is used to capitalize the
initial provision of AT in connected schools, governments and
educational authorities will need to be able to support students
and teachers alike in the use of ATs, and in their incorporation
into the inclusive curriculum of a school.
121Technology and Social Change (TASCHA) group, University of Washington. Technology for employability in Latin America: Research with at-risk youth & people with disabilities http://cis.washington.edu/files/2009/11/tascha_ict-employability-latin-america_200910.pdf
122TASCHA study page 86
123TASCHA study page 84
Another important procurement consideration for policy-makers is the choice between proprietary or open-source software and AT. Proprietary software is developed and licensed by a private company, and is supplied on a for-profit basis. Typically, the software code cannot be reused or because of licensing arrangements. Open-source software allows the reuse and repurposing of code under certain licensing conditions such as the General Public License (GPL).
The “free” in “free and open-source” software refers to the freedom to modify computer code -- not necessarily the availability of software for free.124 Many open source software products are available free of charge, but governments or schools may have to incur a cost for this software to be developed into a service or solution that meets their needs. For example, an organization using an open-source content management system (CMS) may need to pay a web developer to develop the website using that CMS. So while the source code of the CMS is available free of charge, the organization may have to pay for a specialist to develop and perhaps maintain the website. Similarly, a school system that chooses to supply open-source ATs to its students may need to pay for services such as teacher and staff training in the use of the ATs, as well as support for maintaining and upgrading them.
While some of the case studies (Kenya) show that schools and universities can and do benefit from donations of proprietary software and ATs by companies and charitable organizations, the total demand for ATs required in-country is unlikely to be met through this supply model alone. On the other hand, the supply and use of open-source solutions requires a level of in-country expertise for installation, training and support. This also has cost implications. So policy-makers should consider which approach will work in the short, medium and long term. Whatever the model or mix of models chosen, it will be necessary to support ongoing research and development into new AT solutions at university and industry levels. One key issue for research and development is the need to provide ATs in the local language of each country.
Section 5 for more on funding models derived from research into
124Botelho, Fernando. Open Source Software-Based Assistive Technologies in ITU/G3ict e-Accessibility Policy Toolkit for Persons with Disabilities. http://e-accessibilitytoolkit.org
In order for persons with disabilities to access appropriate assistive technology (AT), there must be a vibrant and sustainable AT ecosystem. Key components of such an AT eco-system include:
Developing countries have the opportunity to learn from the experiences of developed countries which, in-spite of relatively high levels of resources, still struggle in many cases to meet the AT needs of persons with disabilities.
Research in Europe has shown that many AT companies develop as the result of a small, local demand.125 For example, the first line of Siemens Hearing Instruments was initially meant for employees of that company and their family members. Thus, small AT companies develop based on solving a need locally, and often do not have a business plan for rapid scalability.
A further issue is market fragmentation. Research supported by the European Commission has found that “the degree of fragmentation for AT ICT in general is high, driven largely by the unique, national-level or regional-level service delivery systems that minimize the ability for companies to realize significant economies of scale.” The fragmentation caused by different national systems and policies makes an already limited market for accessibility products even smaller. A further issue is that the type of solution required may vary from country to country – according to different languages, for example. The result of this fragmentation in the AT industry in Europe is that:
Market fragmentation is not only an issue for the viability and future development of a robust and profitable AT industry, it impacts on the choice, quality and affordability of solutions available to end-users within a region.
One solution being proffered in the European context is the development of an organization to represent and support the AT ICT industry through networking between stakeholders, including end-users and service providers such as educational authorities. These partners would exchange knowledge on marketing and technical information. Policy-makers in developing countries may wish to encourage such networks to foster development of an in-country AT industry. The network could be developed at a national level or as part of an international network between countries.
Examples of industry associations for AT include:
125Pastor, C. et al (2009) Analysing and federating the European assistive technology ICT industry. Available at http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/newsroom/cf/itemdetail.cfm?item_id=4897
Public procurement has long been used by many governments to achieve social inclusion goals.126 National public procurement policy has the potential to positively influence the availability, affordability and quality of AT and other accessible ICTs such as Braille, DAISY books and accessible websites.
Public procurement provides educational and school authorities with a means to incorporate accessibility requirements at the earliest stages of developing a school IT infrastructure. This also has an impact on the wider accessible ICT eco-system by creating a demand, and therefore a capacity within the market, to develop, produce and maintain accessible ICTs. The greater the demand, the lower the end cost is likely to be. Public procurement policy can, therefore, act as a means to promote the development and availability of accessible ICTs.
Educational authorities could, for example, include accessibility as a criterion in the purchase of all educational software, such as teaching programs or content management systems. This would help ensure that all users, including persons with disabilities, would be able to use and access content from the start, avoiding costly provision of specialized learning resources for these students at a later date.
Accessible ICT procurement toolkits have been developed in a number of countries to systematically promote the procurement of accessible ICTs. A procurement toolkit typically provides guidance in the development and assessment of tenders issued by public bodies for ICTs such as websites or computers. Policy-makers could consider the development of a public procurement toolkit to complement a national policy on the provision of accessible ICTs in connected schools. In this way, any expenditure on ICTs for schools will ensure that the stock of school ICT hardware and software will become more accessible over time. While this will promote the accessibility of the mainstream ICT equipment used in schools, it will also be necessary to make a separate investment in specialized solutions and assistive technology for children with disabilities.
For more on the role of public procurement in fostering
accessible ICTs see the ITU/G3ict
126Waddell, Cynthia. Meeting information and communications technology access and service needs for people with disabilities: Major issues for development and implementation of successful policies and strategies. Available at http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/sis/PwDs/Seminars/Zambia/Documents/Presentations/009-Waddell%20Cynthia-Background%20paper.pdf Where governments insist on procuring only accessible ICTs, manufacturers respond by producing only accessible ICTs. It is simply too expensive for manufacturers to produce two lines, one for the government and another for the public. Public procurement requirements in countries that are major producers of ICTs has resulted in more accessible features being included in mainstream ICTs.
It is also necessary for AT to be compatible with -- and to be supported by -- schools’ ICT infrastructure. The list of questions in Table 4.1 will assist in reviewing the current or planned ICT infrastructure in the school to support ATs.
Table 4.1 Platform/infrastructure considerations in support of AT
Hardware – Platform
How will the platform support a range of third party input and output devices?
What connectivity to third party input/output devices will be available?
Is the hardware compatible with widely used access software solutions?
Will drivers for input/output devices be available on this platform?
What support can be provided for input/output based on legacy connections?
Hardware – Laptops
What range of screen size will be available?
How much do any specified portable devices�weigh?
Are ruggedized devices available?
How do the devices open and start up – Ease of use?
What is the battery life : In hibernate ? In continuous use?
Can the selected device accommodate peripherals such as scanners, CCTV/magnifiers, joysticks?
How will local specialist technician knowledge integrate with provider services?
What provision of instant replacement services is applicable to users with individual needs?
Can the systems be accessed by users of non-standard technologies?
Will users have access to the control panel features?
Can user profiles for accessibility features be accessed at login anytime anywhere?
What are the timescales and related dependencies for approval and installation of access technologies?
What accessibility options are available in the operating system?
What third party access software is available?
How will non-keyboard or non-literate users log on to the system?
What range of applications and software will run on the system, and will those options work with assistive technologies?
Intranet/Software as a Service (SaaS)
Will the applications comply with accessibility standards?
How will any bundled content created be managed�- How will the accessibility of content be assured?
Can it be accessed by users of non-standard technologies?
Can AT solutions be managed across the network?
Is network licensing of assistive technologies appropriate?
How will ATs be maintained in line with operating system (OS) and application upgrades?
How will people with special needs access any online applications/workstations/laptops/mobile devices?
How will ATs be funded annually for new users and as users’ needs change?
Are drivers for assistive technologies preloaded onto the system?
Building Design and Furniture
Are suitable power sockets and network access points available to support pupils throughout the building and immediate environment?
Is furniture accessible and suitably adjustable for individual needs?
Is technology sited for ease of access?
Does lighting reflect on the screen or create undue glare?
Can it be locally adjusted (e.g. turned off.)?
Is there sufficient space allowed in the classroom for equipment to be maneuvered and to promote access for people with limited mobility?
ITU/G3ict e-Accessibility Toolkit
This section provides a brief overview of some main trends and developments in the area of assistive technology (AT) and the use of ICTs in education. It aims to inform policy-makers on which technology trends and developments should be considered in terms of research and development and international cooperation. While some of these may not currently be viable solutions for the use of accessible ICTs in schools in developing countries, they point to trends and developments that may ultimately address issues of affordability and availability of both AT and accessible educational resources.
Cloud computing is a current technological paradigm shift in which computing resources such as software are distributed over the Internet and made available to computers and other devices on-demand.127 The implication here is that AT software applications would not be installed on a particular machine, but rather would be accessed through the Internet from any computer. Preliminary approaches, such as online screen-readers, have “yielded promising results towards an inclusive Web by removing both economical and accessibility barriers.”128
More ambitious approaches, such as the Raising the Floor (RtF)129 and the LUCY project,130 aim to develop the tools and infrastructure necessary for persons with disabilities to have access to affordable ATs from any computer. Of particular relevance here is the RtF focus on the provision of ATs that are affordable. The RtF project recognizes that the “cost of commercial assistive technologies that are good enough to handle today's modern Web pages and applications far exceed the cost that those in lower socioeconomic situations can afford.”131
Unlike mainstream technologies, ATs such as screen readers have not tended to decrease in price over time. Instead, AT developers struggle to keep pace with developments in the interfaces and functionality of mainstream technologies. Open, collaborative projects such as RtF invite governments and research communities in universities and industry to contribute to their areas of activity.
Lack of access to a computer in developing countries restricts many people’s access to the Internet. Mobile phone ownership is far greater in developing countries than PC ownership. For example, according to a report from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, approximately 5 million new mobile subscribers joined the ever-growing population of mobile phone users every month in 2006.132 Content delivered via mobile phone is being used for a variety of applications, including education. Mobile learning, or “m-learning,” is an array of e-learning over mobile devices such as mobile phones, whic is of potential benefit to users in developing countries, especially those living in remote rural locations.
The challenges of providing content on a mobile phone include "how to efficiently render visual Internet content into short, precise, easily navigable, meaningful and pleasant to listen to audio content."133 Still, the penetration of mobile phones in developing countries does present a potential opportunity for reaching more people than the current provision of content to desktop computers. Any country developing policy or initiatives to promote the provision of services over mobile phone networks should consider the implications for persons with disabilities, for example, using accessible books stored on mobile phones.
See proceedings from the ITU/UNESCAP/G3ict
Asia-Pacific Regional Forum on Mainstreaming ICT Accessibility for
Persons with Disabilities (Bangkok, 2009) on
access to the internet for persons with disabilities via mobile
phone and the
use of mobile phones for children with disabilities.
132Nokia India. Position Paper – Mobile Internet UX
for Developing Countries
Connecting all primary, secondary and post-secondary schools to ICTs by 2015 was one of the targets set by world leaders at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). The lack of fixed-line telecommunication infrastructure has been an obstacle to accessing the Internet in many under-served and remote parts of the developing world. The increasing levels of connectivity to the Internet through wireless broadband -- a growing trend in developing countries -- promises to improve Internet connectivity in developing countries, including in schools. For students with disabilities, the possibility of accessing educational content online will significantly improve their ability to participate in mainstream education.
Learning platform is a generic term used to describe a broad range of ICT systems that are used to deliver and support learning. These include Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs), which combine several functions such as delivering course work over the Web or an intranet to students or allowing students and teachers to interact. VLEs are regularly used for ‘blended learning’ that supplements traditional, face-to-face classroom activities. VLEs are most often used in higher (second or third level) education. Some VLEs are capable of producing content that conforms with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines from the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI).134 One such open-source VLE is Moodle.135
134 W3C WAI, 2008. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.0. Available at http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20/
Open Educational Resources (OERs) are learning materials that are freely available for use, repurposing and redistribution. The term was first adopted at UNESCO's 2002 Forum on the Impact of Open Courseware for Higher Education in Developing Countries.136 While many OERs are available over the Web, many are not accessible to persons with disabilities. Policy considerations in this area could include international cooperation with other countries, establishing projects to develop OERs that are accessible to persons with disabilities, or developing strategies to systematically provide existing OERs in accessible formats.
An example of one such project is the “FLOE” or Flexible Learning for Open Education project, which received funding approval from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation in 2010.137 The FLOE project will work with current OER projects and the accessibility community to develop a system that will better match OERs with the needs of learners. Current OER projects will be supported to produce more accessible OERs. Where learners’ needs are not being met, the FLOE project will work with the community of alternate format providers to develop accessible versions of OERs. Led by the Inclusive Design Research Centre138 at the Ontario College of Art And Design, the project will include a range of developing country partners such as:
1. OER Africa,139
2. Strathmore University, Kenya,
3. University of Capetown, South Africa. and
4. Research Institute for Technology and Innovation (IPTI), Brazil.
To support adoption in Africa and other areas where mobile devices are more prevalent than Internet access, FLOE will create the tools and services needed to deliver OER via audio-only, text messages and small screens found on popular cell phones.
For further information on the potential of OERs as a tool for inclusive education, see the article “Access to Education with Online Learning and Open Education Resources: Can they Close the Gap?”140
For a discussion on making online educational resources
accessible, see the article “Accessible Distance Education
140Geith, Christine. Access to Education with Online Learning and Open Education Resources: Can they Close the Gap http://www.distanceetdroitaleducation.org/contents/FJALN_v12n1_Geith.pdf
141Robert, Jodi. Accessible Distance Education 101.
For some time now, a key policy consideration for public agencies in developed countries has been the accessibility of private and public websites.142 In accordance with the principles of Universal Design, incorporating the needs of persons with disabilities into the design and development of a website at the earliest stages is likely to incur little or no additional cost. Websites that are currently inaccessible are typically more difficult and expensive to retrofit.
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)143 has produced internationally recognized guidelines and resources for the development of accessible websites. Many countries now use the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, version 1 or 2, as the standard to which all public administration websites must conform. Policy-makers should consider imposing targets on publicly funded institutions, such as schools and universities --,and even private companies -- for the development of new websites and the retrofitting of old website to conform to these standards.
A report on “Web Accessibility Policy Making: An International Perspective” showing a range of policy approaches to Web accessibility is available from the G3ict website.
“At the [accessible ICT center] we learn that because you have a disability you don’t have to be on the side, in a corner like a piece of furniture. On the contrary, you struggle for your life, these classes are an incentive to get ahead, to believe in yourself, to feel capable, that you can do the things that you want, the goals that you make.” Ecuadorian person with a motor impairment, participant in a POETA supported ICT centre144
This section explores the potential of leveraging connected schools, equipped with Assistive Technology, as training centers for persons with disabilities within the community. It is based on the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITUs) experiences in supporting Multipurpose Telecommunication Centers (MTCs), coupled with learning from international studies on the use of accessible telecenters and Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) centers in providing technical skills and job-preparedness training to persons with disabilities.
While equipping connected schools with assistive technology (AT)
is a worthy goal in and of itself, the benefits can be multiplied
by taking advantage of already installed ATs and computer
equipment, as well as the administrative and management structures
of the school to provide services to the broader community. Two
potential uses can be considered. The first encompasses the well-
established notion of providing Internet access and ICTs through
community-based telecenters. The second considers the possibility
of literacy, numeracy, basic ICT skills and vocational job skills
144Technology and Social Change (TASCHA) group, University of Washington. Technology for employability in Latin America: Research with at-risk youth & people with disabilities http://cis.washington.edu/files/2009/11/tascha_ict-employability-latin-america_200910.pdf
Multipurpose Community Telecenters (MCTs) are promoted and supported by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) as a means to facilitate universal access to telecommunication services -- particularly access to the internet via ICTs.145 This, in turn, enables people to become active participants in the emerging Information Society. MCTs are a shared facility for access to ICTs, along with user support and training. MCTs can reduce access costs larger numbers of people than the provision of individual solutions, such as laptops. MCTs also promote awareness of the potential benefits of the Information Society and “connectedness.”146
See the UNESCO reference document “Accessibility
Guidelines for Community Multimedia Centres for People with
Disabilities” that contains detailed guidelines, checklists and
case studies on how MCT can be made accessible.
Multipurpose community telecentres: Lessons Learnt http://www.itu.int/net/itunews/issues/2010/05/30.aspx
146Johan Ernberg ITU/BDT Universal Access - by
means of Multipurpose Community Telecentres. Available at
Skill training enhances productivity and sustains competitiveness in the global economy.147 Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) is not just a means of preparing young people for the world of work, it is also a “means of reaching out to the marginalized and excluded groups to engage them in income-generating livelihoods.”148 The first of the Millennium Development Goals is to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, with a target of halving, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than 1 USD a day and who suffer from hunger. Ensuring that workers have the skills to earn a livelihood through equitable access to appropriate learning is one of the six Education for All (EfA) goals established at the World Education Forum in Dakar in 2000.
TVET for poverty alleviation has become a priority for many governments in developing countries. The success and future expansion of TVET programmes in developing countries depends on the continued expansion of existing training programmes and continued cooperation among national and international bodies.
Many developing countries have concentrated on “universal primary education and literacy, but do not pay sufficient attention to skill training for youths and adults.”149 However, in countries such as Nigeria, there are “numerous initiatives focusing on providing education and training people from marginalized groups.” These are often small in scale and are not recognized as part of a comprehensive national educational strategy. The best practices referred to in this section recommend that TVET for persons with disabilities should:
One of the primary aims of the UN CRPD is for persons with disabilities to become active members of the workforce at all levels of industry, commerce, administration, governance and education. Accessible ICTs hold the potential to enable persons with disabilities to receive job skills that would otherwise be inaccessible to them. For example, assistive technologies can enable access to mainstream office applications commonly used for business management and administration. Traditionally, persons with a disability such as blindness were often given specific and somewhat limiting roles within an organization, such as answering telephones as a receptionist. However, when sufficient and appropriate training is provided, persons with disabilities can reach their own personal potential once they have support and the required accommodations.
The case studies show a variety of job opportunities that
persons with disabilities in developing countries are enjoying as a
result of vocational training in the use of accessible ICTs. One
growth area in jobs for person with disabilities in developing
countries is employment at telecenters.150 The Microsoft
website also illustrates a variety of ICT-specific careers made
possible through the use of accessible ICTs.
147Bharat, The Role Open and Distance Learning in Vocational Education and Training in India
148Alhaji, Ibrahim Hamra. Revitalizing Technical and
Vocational Education Training for Poverty Eradication and
Sustainable through Agricultural Education. Available at
Published in African Research Review - AFRREV, January 2008, Volume 2, No. 1
149UNESCO. Meeting EFA goals : Integrating Skills Development in EFA http://portal.unesco.org/education/en/ev.php-URL_ID=34507&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html
Key considerations and good-practice guidance in this section are based on findings and recommendations of the 2009 study by the Technology and Social Change (TASCHA) group at the University of Washington. “Technology for employability in Latin America: Research with at-risk youth & people with disabilities” looked at recent investments in technology centers to provide basic computer training for persons with disabilities in five countries: Brazil, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico and Venezuela.151
151Technology and Social Change Group, University of Washington. 2009 Technology for employability in Latin America: Research with at-risk youth & people with disabilities. Available at http://change.washington.edu/2010/01/technology-for-employability-in-latin-america-research-with-at-risk-youth-people-with-disabilities/
In the TASCHA study, a mix of funding models were observed in different countries, although all projects examined were part of the POETA programme of international aid (see POETA case study for more details). In line with the POETA policy of collaborating with local partners, funding was also received from municipal and national governments. In the context of the five countries examined in the study,152 there was no trend observed that participants were unwilling or unable to pay a ”nominal amount” for access to ICT and job skills training.
The biggest barrier for functional access to technology was found to be the prohibitively high cost of AT software. For example, in the case study from Mexico city, AT such as a JAWS screen reader and MAGic were only provided in demo versions, requiring the user to reboot the machine every 40 minutes. While a number of projects are under way to develop ATs such as screen readers in underserved languages, these are currently insufficient to meet the worldwide need for the localization of these technologies. (See ITU and UN ESCAP Bangkok conference proceedings on “Mainstreaming ICT Accessibility for persons with Disabilities”). The TASCHA study concludes that the development of affordable ATs – screen readers- in local languages should be “a defining agenda for research and practice in technology in the developing world”153.
Some aid organizations and technology companies worldwide offer
subsidized versions of proprietary software (see
case study from Kenya). The TASCHA studies conclude that such a
model is unsustainable and that efforts should focus on building
the capacity nationally and internationally to produce affordable
and localized AT.154
152Brazil, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico and Venezuela
153TASCHA page 80
154TASCHA page 80
Funding for accessible MCTs should go beyond “parachuting in” technology and look at a sustainable business model for the center. The TASCHA report found that after the initial capital injection to buy AT and pay for training was finished, many telecenters found it difficult to become self-sufficient. While corporate social responsibility can potentially be utilized to secure an initial capital investment from a company or foundation, the TASCHA report warns that this funding model on its own is at odds with the “kind of investment need for meaningful support of human development initiatives such as [the development of accessible MCTs],”155 POETA points to trends in the philanthropic approach to providing aid to developing countries. Donating organizations have become more focused on the results of the investment. They play the role of a broker by providing a mix of funds, knowledge and expertise and requiring that projects are replicable, sustainable and have appreciable results.156
In the context of accessible MCTs based in schools, consideration should be given to the sustainability of the business model. While much of the infrastructure, such as the school building and computer room, can be made available at no cost to the community, careful planning is required for funding ongoing ancillary services such as hiring trainers and providing job skills training.
155TASCHA page 85.
156POETA - presentation on file
Providing certification for course completion attracts participants and is a qualification desired by employers. The types of certification identified in the TASCHA study varied from project to project and were either provided by the telecenters, the local or national educational ministry, or by private companies such as CISCO and Microsoft.
Accessible MCTs based in schools are ideally placed to support cross-over programs for participants to complete formal education. The TASCHA study points out that TVET, and in particular ICT initiatives, serve as a ‘substitute’ for formal education. The following quotation for one respondent captures this potential which should be considered in context of policy development in support of accessible ICT schools:
“I didn’t hope to go to college before I took this course. I only started intending to head to college in this area due to this course. I liked computers, and it seemed like this course ‘fell from the sky’ for me, and I got the idea of going to college to study informatics after going to this course…it changed my thinking, informatics changed it a lot.”
–17 year old Brazilian youth157
157TASCHA page 56
The TASCHA report found that one of the biggest barriers to functional accessibility among respondents was the lack of low-cost AT in the local language (Spanish). The report recommended that:
The TASCHA study identified a disconnect between the AT available in the telecenters and those made available by employers to enable a person with a disability to carry out their job.
While some financial support was available from regional and national authorities to subsidize the ATs in the telecenters, no such subsidies were available in some countries to procure the same software and hardware once a person had secured a job placement. Accessible MCTs in schools providing training for persons with disabilities should foster strong relationships with local employers. In the case study on the Tunisian telecenter, the telecenter invited prospective employers to give presentations and evaluate student projects. As well as awareness-raising activities for employers, the accessible MCTs in schools could potentially provide some level of support in placing graduates in jobs. It could also support employers by identifying workplace accommodations and helping find appropriate AT.
Job placement support enables prospective employers to overcome negative perceptions about employing a person with a disability, as well as providing advice and practical support on making workplace adjustments. Workplace adjustments can include the sourcing and installation of ATs required to enable the person to work. It is key to facilitating the transition of the person from education and training to employment.
In Italy, for example, at the Politecnico di Milano, graduates with disabilities have reached a 100 per cent success rate in finding jobs, in part due to the outreach and ongoing support provided by the university to graduates and employers in making these workplace adjustments.158 The TASCHA report suggests that accessible ICT centers can “build a reputation for providing successful candidates by maintaining ongoing relationships [with employers]”159.
A key policy consideration, therefore, is the provision of subsidies and grants to either employees or employers to make workplace accommodations, in line with the UN Convention’s obligations under “reasonable accommodation.”
There was a high demand from participants interviewed in the
TASCHA study for additional and complementary employment services
to be provided along with the ICT technical skills. These skills
include resume-building, interview skills and other
job-preparedness skills. In particular, respondents in the TASCHA
study spoke of the increase in self-esteem and their personal
perceptions of their own employability resulting from these ‘softer
skills’ being part of the course.
Some of the telecenters in the TASCHA study also offered additional services such as physical rehabilitation and occupational therapy. In the context of schools providing access to accessible ICTs, close links with other established rehabilitative services in the community can be vital to developing and supporting the local ecosystem of disability services.
158Sbatella, Licia. 2010. Higher education ICT programs for promoting employability of students with disability.
159TASCHA page 86
The following is a review and checklist of the concepts and recommendations put forward in this module:
1. Policies for the implementation of accessible ICTs in connected schools should be developed together with disabled persons’ organizations and within the framework of international law and policy that includes the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the World Summit on the Information Society principles, actions and targets.
2. Policy development and implementation of accessible ICTs in connected schools should be used to further the inclusive educational policies of a country -- that is, education provided within the context of the mainstream educational system and not in a segregated setting.
3. Because inclusive education is a model that must be progressively realized, policy-makers should consider the development of national-level statements on the principles, intentions, means, objectives and timeframes for implementing accessible ICTs in connected schools.Policy development on the use of accessible ICTs in inclusive schools will cut across several areas of governmental responsibility including:
4. Four key stages i�n the implementation of accessible ICTs in inclusive education are:
5. Six key areas for policy development include:
6. Research activities to support evidence based policy development should focus on establishing:
7. Policy implementation will require the cooperation of a wide range of stakeholders, including persons with disabilities, educational authorities and international aid organizations.
8. All consultation meetings on policy development held with persons with disabilities should be done in an accessible manner.
9. The policy development framework for the provision of accessible ICTs in connected schools should include a mechanism for evaluation and monitoring of outcomes. This should include metrics on
10. Funding options for investment in an AT infrastructure for connected schools include government funding and subsidies, public-private partnerships, partnerships with international aid organizations and corporate social responsibility programmes from technology companies. A key policy consideration for government and school investment in accessible technology is the choice between open-source and proprietary models of software licensing. Policy-makers should consider the implications of the choice of investment in terms of the likely short, medium and long-term impacts on the availability and affordability of ATs.
11. Government investment policy in ATs for connected schools should look beyond just the provision of technology and aim to develop and support a sustainable AT infrastructure that provides for needs assessment, supply, maintenance, training and support in the use of ATs for both students and their teachers.
12. The development of a national online database on ATs will help provide teachers, students and their families with accurate information on ATs and their availably in-country.
13. Support by government of the AT industry in-country is essential for a sustainable and viable AT industry.
14. Support of research and development into AT is essential to enable further development and localization of AT. Ensuring that AT software such as screen readers are available in local languages is of critical importance. Research and development can be supported by a mix of stakeholders including universities with suitable technical competencies and resources, industry and technical centers within disabled persons organizations (DPOs).
15. A range of current and near-future technology developments should be monitored by government and schools such as cloud computing, m-learning and the development of accessible Open Educational Resources.
16. Targets and timeframes for the development of publicly funded and private websites to be accessible according to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines from the W3C should be implemented.
17. Consideration should be given to leveraging connected schools with accessible ICTs as accessible Multipurpose Community Telecentres (MCTs) for use by the wider community.
18. In the context of accessible MCTs based in schools, which provide employment and ICT skills training to persons with disabilities, consideration should be given to the sustainability of the centre’s business model. While much of the infrastructure can be made available at no cost to the community, careful planning is required to ensure adequate funding for trainers and course materials.
Persons with disabilities remain one of the most excluded groups in society. Equitable access to education is a vital part of enabling people to reach their full potential, and this has been emphasized as a human right for persons with disabilities in the UN Convention on the Rights of persons with Disabilities. This module has shown that accessible ICTs hold the potential to facilitate access to education for all persons with disabilities and enable them to become productive, visible and integrated members of society.
“Thus in my own country and in many other friendly countries we persons with disabilities have been left in an exceptionally negative place, segregated from society and considered invisible by the rest of the community. It was traditionally assumed that so-called “special” persons were unable to learn, so that it was thought unnecessary to spend time and give attention for that purpose; all that was needed was to provide assistance in the form of health care, food and shelter, in other words a form of assistance based on public charity.” Mr Lenín Moreno Garcés, Vice-President of the Republic of Ecuador. Keynote speech at 48th International Conference on Education160
16048th ICE page 49
The World Summit on the Information Society, organized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), established a common vision for an information society for all and provided a framework to translate that vision into action.161 Phase 1, held in Geneva in 2003, developed a clear statement of the political will, vision and framework through its Declaration of Principles. The implementation of concrete activities was established in the Plan of Action.162 Phase 2, held in Tunisia in 2005, put this Plan of Action into motion and established an Agenda for the Information Society in the Tunis Commitment.163
161World Summit on the Information Society http://www.itu.int/wsis/index.html
UN/ITU WSIS, Geneva Declaration of Principles, available at http://www.itu.int/wsis/documents/doc_multi.asp?lang=en&id=1161|0
UN/ITU WSIS, Geneva Plan of Action, available at
162UN/ITU WSIS, Tunis Commitment, available at http://www.itu.int/wsis/documents/doc_multi.asp?lang=en&id=2266|0
163UN/ITU WSIS, Tunis Agenda for the Information
Society, available at
The WSIS Key Principles and Plan of Action contain many commitments on the development of an Information Society that enables the education, training and employment of persons with disabilities. It recognizes the special needs of persons with disabilities and, under the Key Principles, highlights the importance of universal design and the use of assistive technologies in enabling access to the Information Society. It emphasizes that an inclusive information and communication infrastructure is an essential foundation to the Information Society and that national ”e-strategies” need to take into consideration the “special requirements of people with disabilities.”
The Key Principles and Plan of Action contain numerous obligations on the special needs of persons with disabilities which include:
The International Telecommunication Union’s 2010 mid-term report on “Monitoring the WSIS targets” states that
“In view of the challenges faced in meeting the WSIS, MDGs [Millennium Development Goals] and EFA [Education for ALL] targets, it seems unrealistic to assume that conventional delivery mechanisms will be capable of ensuring the affordable and sustainable provision of quality and equal education opportunities for all by 2015. Indeed, the biggest challenge for many education systems is to be able to offer training or learning opportunities to traditionally underserved or marginalized groups. ”
Accessible ICTs are increasingly viewed as a key means to deliver on the international development strategies and treaties referenced in this module.
UNESCO’s focus is on the human dimension of the information society beyond connectivity and infrastructures. Education, knowledge, information and communication are placed at the core of human well-being as nations move toward becoming inclusive Knowledge Societies. In 2003, UNESCO made available a series of publications summarizing some of the most essential issues related to the development of the information society, including ICTs and persons with disabilities.164 These publications are intended to measure the upheavals brought about by the emergence of ICT. They also deal with the potential for development, the difficulties encountered, possible solutions, and the various projects implemented by UNESCO and its partners.
UNESCO’s World Report:Towards Knowledge Societies165 published as a contribution to the WSIS process in 2005, stressed the existence of multi-faceted digital divides in societies:
“There is not one but rather many digital divides. They are not exclusive and tend to combine according to local realities. There are numerous factors that contribute to the digital divide … economic resources, geography, age, gender, language, education, employment and disability”.
164UNESCO, Status of Research on the Information Society, UNESCO Publications for the World Summit on the Information Society, 2003. p. 59-68. http://portal.unesco.org/ci/en/files/12515/10621625063status-1-84.pdf/status-1-84.pdf
165UNESCO World Report: Towards Knowledge Societies.
UNESCO Publishing, 2005. p. 30. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0014/001418/141843e.pdf
The International Telecommunication Union is the lead United Nations agency for information and communication issues, and it is the global focal point for governments and the private sector in developing networks and services. ITU works to improve the telecommunications infrastructure of the developing world and, therefore, has a specific strategy on accessibility. This strategy focuses on:
The ITU-G3ict166 “e-Accessibility Policy Toolkit for Persons with Disabilities”167 is an online toolkit designed to assist policy-makers to implement the ICT accessibility dispositions of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The toolkit is a global collaborative effort with more than 60 contributors from around the world. It provides a range of introductory information on the ICT accessibility dispositions in the UN Convention, as well as policy advice structured by government policy area.
e-Accessibility Toolkit in brief
The Toolkit is composed of the following main categories of information:
The Toolkit also contains two further resources designed to help countries to prioritize policy development:
In addition, the Telecommunication Development Sector (ITU-D) is implementing a variety of projects in developing countries, including establishing community ICT centers equipped with assistive technologies so that persons with disabilities can partake in ICT literacy training. There also are ICT-enabled job training and projects targeted at the development of text-to-speech in local languages. Accessibility issues are also explored in Study Group 1 of the ITU-D, in Question 20-1/1, "Access to telecommunication/ICT services by persons with disabilities and with special needs.” Details on the work of ITU-D on accessibility can be found at http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/sis/PwDs/index.html.
The Telecommunication Standardization Sector of ITU (ITU-T) has been promoting accessibility since 2000, through the concept of “Total Communication” and the principle of “Design for all,” with its Recommendation ITU-T F.703. These two initiatives began to promote the concept of Universal Design, enshrined in the UN CRPD, eight years before its adoption by the UN. Since then, many other standards – which are called “Recommendations” in ITU parlance – have been written for accessibility and for mainstreaming accessibility within telecommunication/ICT systems.
In addition, ITU-T developed the Telecommunications
Accessibility Checklist, which enables standards writers – who are
manufacturers, network providers, operating agencies, regulators,
along with ITU Member States – to include accessibility and
universal design principles during the early stages of the
standards development process, instead of having to do often
expensive retrofits into existing systems and services. Details on
the work of ITU-T in accessibility can be found at http://www.itu.int/ITU-T/accessibility/index.html.
166The United Nations Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs (G3ict) is a flagship partnership initiative of the United Nations Global Alliance for ICT and Development.
UNESCO leads the global Education for All movement, aiming to meet the learning needs of all children, youth and adults by 2015. UNESCO promotes the ultimate goal of inclusive education, which it views as a means to ensuring a quality education for all and to achieving wider social inclusion goals.
In its “Guidelines for inclusion: Ensuring Access to Education for All” UNESCO defines inclusive educations as
“…a process of addressing and responding to the diversity of needs of all learners through increasing participation in learning, cultures and communities, and reducing exclusion within and from education. It involves changes and modifications in content, approaches, structures and strategies, with a common vision which covers all children of the appropriate age range and a conviction that it is the responsibility of the regular system to educate all children”.168
UNESCO also promotes effective use of ICTs that are “accessible, adaptive and affordable.”169 It views the empowerment of persons with disabilities through effective use of ICTs as
“…not a charity, but the fulfillment of fundamental human rights as stated in 1948 in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, highlighting that “all human beings are born free and equal in rights and dignity.”170
UNESCO promotes empowering persons with disabilities through ICTs as a means of effective participation in inclusive education, culture, science and the enjoyment of human rights and social inclusion (Figure 7.1). (See the UNESCO document Empowering Persons with Disabilities through ICTs for more on UNESCO’s view on the interrelationship between accessible ICTs, inclusive education and human rights.)
Figure 7.1 Accessible ICTs enabling education, science, culture and communication
UNESCO Policy Guidelines on Inclusion in Education 2009171
UNESCO’s Policy Guidelines on Inclusion in Education 2009 state that inclusive education “is a process of strengthening the capacity of the education system to reach out to all learners, and can be thus understood as a key strategy to achieve EFA”.172 The three main motivators for inclusive education are:
One of the main areas of policy concern in the guidelines relates to the education and continuous professional development of teachers, many of whom are unfamiliar with the potential use of ICTs and may be unaware of how accessible ICTs can be used to assist students with disabilities in the classroom.
168UNESCO, Guidelines for inclusion: Ensuring Access to Education for All, Paris, UNESCO, 2005.
169UNESCO, “Empowering Persons with Disabilities through ICTs”, 2009, available at http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0018/001847/184704e.pdf
170Ibid (footnote 169)
171UNESCO Policy guidelines on Inclusive Education
172UNESCO Guidelines for Inclusive Education, page 8
In 1994, UNESCO organized an international conference to consider the “fundamental policy shifts required to promote the approach of inclusive education, namely enabling schools to serve all children, particularly those with special educational needs.” The Conference adopted the “Salamanca Statement on Principles, Policy and Practice in Special Needs Education and a Framework for Action,” known by shorthand as the Salamanca Declaration, which was endorsed by 92 countries.173 According to the Declaration, inclusive education requires that:
“… Schools should accommodate all children regardless of their physical, intellectual, social, emotional, linguistic or other conditions. This should include disabled and gifted children, street and working children, children from remote or nomadic populations, children from linguistic, ethnic or cultural minorities and children from other disadvantaged or marginalized areas or groups.”174
While many countries have well-established schools providing for the educational needs of children with specific impairments, the Declaration strongly recommends that , where countries have few or no special schools, efforts should be concentrated “on the development of inclusive schools and the specialized services needed to enable them to serve the vast majority of children and youth – especially provision of teacher training in special needs education and the establishment of suitably staffed and equipped resource centers to which schools could turn for support.” When thus established, inclusive schools are more cost effective than maintaining a two-tier system of education.
174The Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action
on Special Needs Education, para 3.
The UNESCO International Conference on Education (ICE) is an international forum for policy dialogue, held by UNESCO’s 153 member states to progress UNESCO’s overall strategy for fostering quality education. At the 48th ICE, held in Geneva in November 2008, inclusive education was emphasized in the conclusion and recommendations as a key strategy in achieving UNESCO’s Education for All initiative.175 The proceedings state that inclusive education is an “ongoing process aimed at offering quality education for all while respecting diversity and the different needs and abilities, characteristics and learning expectations of the students, eliminating all forms of discrimination.”176 The use of ICT is emphasized as a means of ensuring “greater access to learning opportunities.”177
Analysis of National Reports on the Development of Education
National reports on the development of education were submitted by 116 countries for the Conference.178 The reports show a mix of modest progress and interesting innovations being made by developing countries in the use of ICTs for inclusive education:
While some reports are encouraging, and all national reports make reference to some provision for students with disabilities, very few prioritize the provision or use of accessible ICTs. A keyword search performed on all 116 national reports for a variety of terms associated with accessible ICTs revealed that the provision or use of accessible ICTs, and in particular learning materials in alternate formats, were present in only a small number of reports.183
In 2010, UNESCO organized the ninth meeting of the High-level Group on Education for All, which took place from 23-25 February 2010 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The resulting Addis Ababa Declaration184 emphasizes:
“The six EFA goals and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will only be achieved if governments accelerate their efforts to guarantee education for marginalized populations. Opportunities in 2010, notably the MDG review process, must be utilized to revitalize efforts and support for EFA. Unless the global community takes determined and targeted action to reach the marginalized, there will be at least 56 million primary school age children still not enrolled in school in 2015.”
In 2010, UNESCO published the “EFA Global Monitoring Report 2010: Teaching the marginalized.“ The report indicates that children with disabilities are among the most marginalized and least likely to go to school.
"There are an estimated 150 million children in the world with disabilities, about four-fifths of them in developing countries. Millions more live with disabled parents and relatives. Beyond their immediate health-related effects, physical and mental impairments carry a stigma that often leads to exclusion from society and from school… Children with impairments that affect the capacity to communicate, and more severe impairments overall, typically have the most limited opportunities for education, especially in the poorest countries”.
UNESCO is launching a new project on “Development of inclusive
information policies for use of ICTs in Education for Persons with
Disabilities” (ICT4ED4PWD). The initiative aims to collect good
practices in using accessible, adaptive and affordable ICTs in
education for persons with disabilities. It also will examine
existing ICT policies focusing on issues related to inclusive
education, including persons with disabilities. A comprehensive set
of recommendations will be prepared to enhance inclusive
information policies around the world.
177One of the themes debated was “The Role of ICTs in Curricular Innovation”. One of the concrete areas for action was on “Flexible teaching methods and innovative approaches to teaching aids, and equipment as well as the use of ICTs”
180Ibid (page 43)
181Ibid (page 7)
182Ibid (page 17)
183Results of keyword search performed using Google on parent URL: http://www.ibe.unesco.org/National_Reports/ICE_2008
184Ninth Meeting of the High-Level Group on Education
for All, 23-25 February 2010 Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
ADDIS ABABA DECLARATION. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0018/001871/187149e.pdf
“Empowering Persons with Disabilities through ICTs” - UNESCO’s Pavilion at ITU Telecom World 2009
ITU Telecom World 2009 was a major event for the global telecom and ICT sector, bringing together the key players from industry from around the world.185 The event promoted the notion of “knowledge societies,” in which everybody can create, access, use and share information and knowledge. “Empowering persons with disabilities through ICTs” was the primary thematic focus of the UNESCO pavilion at the conference.186 Through a series of workshops seminars and exhibitions, UNESCO conveyed its message that
“The empowerment of persons with disabilities, particularly through effective use of ICTs, is not a charity, but the fulfillment of fundamental human rights as stated in 1948 in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, highlighting that “all human beings are born free and equal in rights and dignity”.
UNESCO organized an expert meeting on “Mainstreaming ICTs for Persons with Disabilities to Access Information and Knowledge” on 22-23 February 2010 in Paris.187 The aim of the meeting was to discuss with experts how to facilitate implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and to identify practical ways that UNESCO could assist its Member States in this international commitment. The following recommendations for action were offered:
1. Concrete activities to make UNESCO accessible;
2. Mainstreaming ICTs in inclusive education;
3. Mobilization of resources and international cooperation; and
4. Creation of an information and knowledge access ecosystem.
The UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education (IITE)
UNESCO’s Institute for Information Technologies in Education (IITE) aims to promote equal access to education and inclusion of the most vulnerable segments of society through us of ICTs. To this end, IITE provides support for the development of policy on national strategies aimed at:
Training course: "ICTs in Education for People with Special Needs"
IITE has developed a specialized training course titled "ICTs in Education for People with Special Needs." The course presents the accumulated international experience in using ICTs to educate a wide range of people with special needs. It is designed to develop competencies for those involved in special needs education on a range of issues including:
185ITU Telecom World 2009, http://www.itu.int/WORLD2009/
186UNESCO, Empowering People with Disabilities through ICTs http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0018/001847/184704e.pdf
The UN Children’s fund, UNICEF, works for children’s rights, survival, development and protection.188 It is guided by the 1989 Convention of the Rights of the Child. This international Convention contains specific references to the right of children with disabilities to be protected from all forms of discrimination (Article 2). Article 23 indicates that parties to the Convention should promote a life of “dignity,” “self-reliance” and “active participation in the community. “ Assistance should be extended to ensure that children with disabilities receive “education, training, health care services, rehabilitation services, preparation for employment and recreation opportunities” (Article 23 (3)). State Parties are also encouraged to participate in international cooperation to ensure that “information concerning methods of rehabilitation, education and vocational service” are shared in order to build capacity and experiences in these areas. (Article 23 (4)).189
The following videos show a selection of the types of ATs that can be used to help control, manipulate and use a person’s environment and/or computer.
Augmentative and Alternative Communication
The following video shows how Ellen, an AT user, uses switches
and an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) device to
communicate, to access a computer and to control her surroundings
at home and at college.
Assistive Technology for blind or vision impairment
The following video shows a demonstration of the BrailleNote
The following video is a basic overview of the JAWS screen reader.�
Alternative formats for deaf and hearing impairment
The following video shows how the use of captions and audio
descriptions are essential for both deaf and blind students in the
use of educational materials.
The following subsections provide lists of resources in the areas of AT, accessible formats, curriculum development, needs assessment, telecenters, open-sources software solutions and other technologies explored in this module.
The Adaptive Braille Writing Tutor project http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~nidhi/brailletutor.html#factsheet
Adobe (2009). "What is accessibility?" http://www.adobe.com/accessibility/gettingstarted/accessibility.html
Annor, J. (2002) Implementing Government Policy for Supporting Technology Use by Persons with Disability. http://www.csun.edu/cod/conf/2002/proceedins/98.htm
AHEAD Text Access. Ireland’s Resource Guide & Union Catalogue for the Print Disabled at Third Level http://www.textaccess.ie/
Bray, M., Brown, M., & Green, T. (2004). Technology and the
Diverse Learner: A Guide to Classroom Practice. Thousand Oaks,
California: Corwin Press.
IT Procurement Toolkit from the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design, Ireland. http://www.universaldesign.ie/useandapply/ict/itprocurementtoolkit.
Casely-Hayford, L. and Lynch, P. ICT and Special Needs Education in Africa, Imfundo Report- Phase 1 http://imfundo.digitalbrain.com/imfundo/web/papers/refpapers/?verb=view
Casely-Hayford, L. and Lynch, P. ICT Based Solutions for Special Educational Needs in Ghana, Imfundo Report - Phase 2 http://imfundo.digitalbrain.com/imfundo/web/papers/refpapers/?verb=view
Craddock, G, D Gordon, O’Callaghan, K & M. Scherer, (2006) Thinking Beyond Assistive Technology In The Classroom: Phase two of the Inclusive Learning Project (ILT) accepted for publication in Special Education and as a paper at the Assistive Technology Industry Association 2006 conference
Craddock etc (2005) Over the Parapet: Thinking Beyond Assistive Technology In The Classroom, Rehabilitation Engineering Society of North America, Annual Conference, June 2005 Atlanta, GA. in press
Craddock, G (2005) The AT Continuum in Education: Novice to Power User, Journal of Disability and Rehabilitation in press
Craddock, G, M Scherer & D Gordan. Inclusive Learning through Technology: Individualized Curriculum in Special Education, Assistive Technology Industry Association 2005 conference, 19th-22nd Orlando Fl
Duxbury Systems software for Braille with Windows, Macintosh, DOS, and UNIX programs http://www.duxburysystems.com/
EDeAN. Resources on Universal Design Education and Training http://www.education.edean.org/
Edmonds, C. (2003). Providing Access to Students with Disabilities in Online Distance Education: Legal, Technical, and Practical Considerations. http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~db=all~content=a783720878
European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education (2003). Key Principles for Special Needs Education. Recommendations for Policy Makers. Online: http://www.european-agency.org/publications/ereports/key-principles-in-special-needs-education/key-principles-in-special-needs-education
Gateway. Guidance for Assistive Technology in Education and Workplace Advancing Young People with Disabilities" http://www.gateway2at.eu
IMS (2001). Guidelines for Developing Accessible Learning Applications. http://www.imsglobal.org/accessibility/accessiblevers/index.html
ITU/G3ict e-accessibility Policy Toolkit for Persons with Disabilities http://e-accessibilitytoolkit.org
Lahm, E.A. (2003). Assistive Technology Specialists: Bringing Knowledge of Assistive Technology to School Districts. Remedial and Special Education, 24(3), pp.141-153.
Moore, D. and Taylor, J. (2000). Interactive Multimedia Systems for Students with Autism. Journal of Educational Media, 25 (3), pp. 169-175.
Microsoft information and tutorials on the inbuilt accessibility features in Microsoft products such as Windows 7, Vista and XP and Office products http://www.microsoft.com/enable/download/default.aspx
Microsoft. Accessibility: A Guide for Educators. “This guide from Microsoft provides information about accessibility and accessible technology to help educators worldwide ensure that all students have equal access to learning with technology.” http://www.microsoft.com/enable/education/
Technology and Social Change (TASCHA), University of Washington. First Workshop on Technology and Disability in the Developing World http://change.washington.edu/access/workshop_1/
Toolbox for Educators: Technology for Mild Disabilities Providing Access to the General Education Curriculum http://www.ed.sc.edu/caw/toolboxvendors.html
UNESCO IITE ICTs in Education for People with Special Needs. http://www.iite.ru/pics/publications/files/3214644.pdf
University CSUN. Assistive Technology programme. http://www.csun.edu/codtraining/
University of Buffalo Assistive Technology Training Online Project http://atto.buffalo.edu
WHO. International Classification of Functioning, Disability and
Health (ICF) http://www.who.int/classifications/icf/en/
Assistive Technologies sorted by impairment type http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/abouthp/accessibility/atproductimpairment.html
Assistive Technology Needs Assessment http://www.asha.org/eweb/OLSDynamicPage.aspx?Webcode=olsdetails&title=Assistive+Technology+Needs+Assessment
Besio, S. (2002a). The Counselling Process in Assistive Technology Evaluation and Selection in: Scherer, M.J. (Ed.), Assistive Technology: Matching Device and Consumer for Successful Rehabilitation. Washington, DC: APA Books, 231-252.
Craddock, G & M. Scherer (2003) "Assessing Individual Needs for Assistive Technology" in Transition Assessment: Wise Practices in Quality Lives edited by Caren L. Sax & Collen A Thoma, Brookes Publishers Baltimore, Maryland.
Education Queensland. Guidelines for Special Consideration in Assessment. http://education.qld.gov.au/studentservices/learning/index.html
Selecting Assistive Technologies http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/abouthp/accessibility/atproduct.html
Scherer, M.J. (1994). The Matching Persons & Technology (MPT) Model. Webster: MPT Institute.
Scherer, M.J. (Ed.) (2002a). Assistive Technology: Matching Device and Consumer for Successful Rehabilitation. Washington, DC: APA Books.
Scherer, M.J. (2002b). The Change in Emphasis from People to Person: Introduction To the Special Issue On Assistive Technology. Disability & Rehabilitation, 24 (1/2/3), 1-4.
Scherer, M.J. (2004). Connecting to Learn.
Educational and Assistive Technology for People with
Disabilities. Washington, DC: American Psychological
ABLEDATA: AbleData - Your source for assistive technology information from http://www.abledata.com/
Ace Centre: What is a communication aid. http://www.ace-centre.org.uk/index.cfm?pageid=DB6B5FE3-3048-7290-FE18A6FAEAF27C9B
Ability Net: Exploring Augmentative and Alternative Communication http://www.ace-centre.org.uk/index.cfm?pageid=DB6B5FE3-3048-7290-FE18A6FAEAF27C9B
AssistiveWare videos on computer accessibility http://www.assistiveware.com/videos.php
ATIA (2009). Assistive Technology Industry Association http://www.atia.org/
Autism Research Institute http://www.autism.org/
Better Living through Technology - extensive listing of AT and software for a range of disabilities http://www.bltt.org/
Canonical Homepage http://www.canonical.com/
Chisholm, W. and M. May (2009). "Universal design for web applications", California, US, O'Reilly Press
Dolphin Pen drive http://www.yourdolphin.com/productdetail.asp?id=8
GW Micro - Window-Eyes: http://www.gwmicro.com/Window-Eyes/
Free and Low Cost Solutions: http://abilitynet.wetpaint.com/page/Free+and+Low+Cost+Solutions
Freedom Scientific: JAWS for Windows � Screen Reading Software http://www.freedomscientific.com/products/fs/jaws-product-page.asp
Freedom Scientific: Surfing the Internet with JAWS and MAGic http://www.freedomscientific.com/Training/Surfs-Up/_Surfs_Up_Start_Here.htm “Learn to use JAWS� screen reading software for Windows and MAGic� screen magnification software for Windows to read and navigate the Internet”
Freedom Scientific : PAC Mate™ Portable Braille Displays http://www.freedomscientific.com/products/fs/pacmate-braille-product-page.asp.
Guidelines for the Design of Accessible Information and Communication Technology Systems. http://www.tiresias.org/guidelines/index.htm
Hawking, S. (2004): "Computer Resources for People with Disabilities: A Guide to Assistive Technologies, Tools and Resources for People of All Ages", Hunter House.
Hersh, M. A. and M. A. Johnson (2003): "Assistive Technology for the Hearing Impaired, Deaf and Deafblind", Springer.
Hersh, M. A. and M. A. Johnson (2008): "Assistive Technology for Visually Impaired and Blind People", Springer.
IBM Accessibility Centre Firefox: An open source accessibility success story http://www-03.ibm.com/able/resources/firefox.html
Inclusive Technology – AT supplier http://www.inclusive.co.uk/
Jones, Kevin (2008): "An Introduction to Screen Readers" retrieved 12.06.2009 from http://www.dcmp.org/caai/nadh181.pdf
King, T. W. (1998): "Assistive Technology: Essential Human Factors", Allyn & Bacon
Kurzweil Educational Systems http://www.kurtzweiledu.com
Laptop Computers and Electronic Notetakers for the Blind: A Comparison http://nfb.org/legacy/bm/bm03/bm0304/bm030407.htm
Laureate software for students with speech and language impairments: autism, and other neurological conditions http://www.LaureateLearning.com
Microsoft Grant Announcement http://www.nvda-project.org/blog/MicrosoftGrant2008-2009Announcement
Overview of Technology for Visually Impaired and Blind Students http://www.tsbvi.edu/technology/overview.htm
Raising the Floor http://raisingthefloor.net/
Schoolnet resources on inclusive education and ICTs http://www.schoolnet.ca/?404=Y
Smart Kids Software - a portal of software companies that specialise in software for children http://www.smartkidssoftware.com
Vanderheiden, G. (1998). Universal design and assistive technology in communication and information technologies: alternatives or complements? “Assistive Technology” 10(1): 29-36
W3C-WAI Introduction to Web Accessibility http://www.w3.org/WAI/intro/accessibility.php
W3C-WAI Evaluating Web Sites for Accessibility: Overview http://www.w3.org/WAI/eval/Overview.html
W3C-WAI Presenting the Case for Web Accessibility http://www.w3.org/WAI/EO/2004/02/presenting_case.html
W3C-WAI (2006). "Complete List of Web Accessibility Evaluation Tools" http://www.w3.org/WAI/ER/tools/complete
W3C-WAI Web Content Accessibility and Mobile Web: Making a Web Site Accessible Both for People with Disabilities and for Mobile Devices" http://www.w3.org/WAI/mobile/
W3C-WAI Techniques in WCAG 2.0 http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20-TECHS/
WebAIM. Keeping Web Accessibility in Mind Video http://www.webaim.org/intro/video.php
Zoomtext by A1 Squared at http://www.aisquared.com/index.cfm
AEGIS IP initiative (Open Accessibility Everywhere: Groundwork, Infrastructure, Standards -http://www.aegis-project.eu/
Assistive Technology Timeline - American Foundation for the Blind http://www.afb.org/Section.asp?SectionID=4&DocumentID=4368
Center For Adaptive Technology - Kenya Society For The Blind http://www.ksblind.org/site/?q=node/8
Comet Media Foundation http://www.cometmedia.org/ngo-in-a-box
Drupal Content Management System http://drupal.org/
DAISY Digital Talking Books http://www.daisy.org/dtbooks
eSpeak: Speech Synthesizer http://espeak.sourceforge.net/
F123.org – Scalable solutions – Botelho & Paula Consultoria http://f123.org/en/
F123.org – Soluções de grande escala – Botelho & Paula Consultoria � Motor http://f123.org/motor
F123.org – Soluções de grande escala – Botelho & Paula Consultoria � Visual http://f123.org/visual
Free Software Foundation: The GNU General Public License http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html
GNU Compiler Collection http://www.ohloh.net/p/gcc
Gnome Onscreen Keyboard http://www.gok.ca/
Inference Group: Dasher Project: Home http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/dasher/
Mozilla Firefox http://www.mozilla.com/firefox/
OATSoft - Open Source Assistive Technology Software http://www.oatsoft.org/
OpenOffice.org - The Free and Open Productivity Suite http://www.openoffice.org/
Open Source Business Models Strategies - Articles Research http://www.opensourcestrategies.org/ Accessed July 6, 2010.
Orca - Open source screen reading software for Linux http://live.gnome.org/Orca
Ocropus - The OCRopus(tm) open source document analysis and OCR system http://code.google.com/p/ocropus/
Pino, A et al. 2010 An Open Source / Freeware Assistive Technology Software. Computers Helping People with Special Needs. 12th International Conference, ICCHP 2010. Part 1.
pVoice - Augmentative communication software http://pvoice.org/
RedHat.com http://www.redhat.com/ Accessed July 6, 2010.
RoboBraille. RoboBraille is a free e-mail service which can convert digital text documents into either Braille or audio files. It currently Danish, English, French, German, Greek, Icelandic, Italian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese and Slovenian http://www.robobraille.org/frontpage
"Source code"; Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Source_code Accessed July 6, 2010.
Ubuntu homepage http://www.ubuntu.com/
University of Pune, Department of CNC , http://www.unipune.ernet.in/network/index.html
Virtual Magnifying Glass - A free, open source, screen magnifier, for Windows, Linux, FreeBSD and Mac OS X. http://magnifier.sourceforge.net/
University of Athens Accessibility Unit. An Open Source / Freeware Assistive Technology Software Inventory. http://www.ioustinos.com/fs/
Webaim. Captioning with Magpie http://www.webaim.org/techniques/captions/magpie/version2/
Telecentre for Disabilities - a discussion group with the telecentre.org association which supports and promotes accessible Telecentres for persons with disabilities http://www.telecentre.org/group/telecentrefordisabilities?commentId=2086278%3AComment%3A17464
Supporting Vocational Education and Training of Disabled People- a European funded project http://www.epractice.eu/en/cases/eaccess
ATRC Web-4-all “Web-4-All is the first technology in the world
that makes it possible for users to carry with them their user
interface preferences (including system preferences, browser
preferences and assistive technology preferences) and quickly
configure public terminals or learning management applications
The following case studies illustrate the variety of ways in which persons with disabilities can be supported in using accessible ICTs to receive an education and job training skills. The case studies underline the different approaches to providing accessible ICTs for education and job skills training including:
The Module on "Assistive Technologies for persons with disabilities" was prepared by Dónal Rice (MSc). Dónal is currently working on a PhD at the Center for Disability Law and Policy at the National University of Ireland, Galway where this thesis is looking at the right mix of legislative and policy approaches in support of web accessibility. As editor of the ITU/G3ict e-Accessibility Policy Toolkit Dónal continues to collaborate with the ITU on updating and expanding this resource for policy makers on the digital accessibility dispositions of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Dónal is the ICT design advisor at the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design at the Irish National Disability Authority.
The author wishes to thank the following people and organizations who provided information and advice during the development of this module: