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 Report on the Internet Governance Forum, Hyderabad, India

Submitted by Cynthia D. Waddell, Juris Doctor
Executive Director and Law, Policy and Technology Subject Matter Expert
International Center for Disability Resources on the Internet

Internet Governance Forum, Hyderabad, India

December 3-6, 2008

Hyderabad, India, was the site of the third meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), and thanks to the host country, it was a successful meeting despite the tragic events of Mumbai. Also known as IGF, the event supports the United Nations Secretary-General in carrying out the mandate from the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) to convene a new forum for multi-stakeholder policy dialogue.

Representing both ICDRI and The Internet Society Disability and Special Needs Chapter, I was honored to moderate the first IGF meeting of the Dynamic Coalition on Technology and Disability as well as to participate as a speaker at two different workshops sponsored by the International Telecommunications Union and the Council of Europe.

Both presentations for the workshops were tailored at the request of the host and were webcast and captioned for remote hub participants. The first presentation for the Council of Europe workshop on Internet Accessibility for Persons with Disabilities was titled, “Accessible Web: The Paradigm Shift.” My second presentation for ITU was titled, “The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: How does it Impact the Internet?”

Dynamic Coalition on Accessibility and Disability (DCAD)

The DCAD website at http://www.itu.int/themes/accessibility/dc/aims.html, provides an expanded explanation of the purpose of DCAD: “to facilitate interaction between relevant bodies, and ensure that ICT accessibility is included in the key debates around Internet Governance in order to build a future where all sectors of the global community have equal access to the Information Society. We are convinced that the entire community can benefit from an ‘accessible ICT world,’ as people can be permanently or temporarily disabled due to personal, environmental (e.g. a phone call in a noisy environment) or cultural (e.g. spoken language diversity) conditions. Moreover, we will all grow old and lose abilities that we take for granted now, thus enlarging the part of the population that would benefit from accessible communication. We cannot allow isolation of a part of the population due to lack of appropriate functionality that prevents the use of ICT resources by everybody to the fullest possible degree.”

For the first IGF meeting of the DCAD in Hyderabad, I agreed to moderate the meeting at the request Andrea Saks, DCAD Coordinator, who was unable to travel due to illness. The purpose of the meeting was to approve a Declaration which became the first output of the IGF. The Declaration is addressed to IGF as a whole and to all stakeholders stating the core views and policies from the field of accessibility and disability rights and calls for Internet accessibility and full participation by persons with disabilities in all IGF deliberations.

The DCAD Agenda included the approval of the DCAD Action Plan, the Hyderabad Declaration on IGF Accessibility for Persons with Disabilities, a discussion on questions raised during the ITU IGF workshop and a request for feedback from IGF participants on accessibility measures taken at this third IGF meeting. The Action Plan and Declaration were approved and a report will be submitted to the IGF Secretariat.


Background of (DCAD)

Last year, prior to the second IGF meeting in Rio de Janeiro, I received a number of inquiries and requests from around the world asking to form a Dynamic Coalition on Accessibility and Disability. It was at the Rio meeting that a number of speakers, including myself, spoke on various aspects of accessibility and disability rights. The momentum generated by the Rio conference in November 2007 eventually led to the formation of the DCAD. The International Telecommunication Union, together with other founding members, proposed to IGF that the DCAD be formed.

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) took the lead and created the following communication structure for our work:

  1.  An email discussion list or reflector was launched;

  2. A Secretariat was funded by ITU for administration and support; and

  3. Andrea Saks agreed to serve as coordinator for the DCAD.

We invited anyone who was interested to participate and moved forward by holding five conference calls to prepare for the 2008 Hyderabad meeting of the Internet Governance Forum. Membership is still open today to anyone interested in addressing Design for All for the web as well as information and communication technologies.

The next face to face meeting is scheduled to be held 15-18 November 2009 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. For more information about joining the DCAD email discussion list and participation, please visit our website at http://itu.int/accessibility/dc . You are also welcome to contact the Secretariat at DCADSecretariate@itu.int . See you at Sharm in 2009!


If you have questions or comments please e-mail them to  icdri@icdri.org


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