1.3.4 Implications for other policy areas
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.