The ongoing work on the INIT’s research study pertaining towards People with Disabilities (PWDs) enticed interest from the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) which is the regional development arm of the United Nations for the Asia-Pacific region and comprises of 53 Member States and 9 Associate Members. With a geographical scope that stretches from Turkey in the west to the Pacific island nation of Kiribati in the east, and from the Russian Federation in the north to New Zealand in the south, the region is home to 4.1 billion people, or two thirds of the world’s population.
INIT and UNESCAP share a membership overlap of around 15-member states. Based on these common areas of interest meetings were held in December 2017 in Islamabad, Pakistan between Mr. Johnathan Wong, Mr. Tahir Naeem and Dr. Akber Gardezi. Different avenues of collaboration were discussed, and it was decided that INIT could facilitate in the formation of policies for the inclusion of the disabled.
Currently the subsequent discussions have led to the development of a background note to showcase policies and issues related to inclusive technology and innovation. The note developed by INIT links to UNESCAP’s work on inclusive technologies for people with disabilities to the regional commitments made under the regional Incheon strategy to “Make the Right Real” for Persons with Disabilities in Asia and the Pacific.
The focus is on Goal 3 of the Incheon strategy, which aims to “Enhance access to the physical environment, public transportation, knowledge, information and communication”, and has the following specific targets:
· Enhance the accessibility and usability of information and communications services; and
· Halve the proportion of persons with disabilities who need but do not have appropriate assistive devices or products.
The mid-point review on the status of implementation of Goal 3 indicates that accessibility of knowledge, information and communications technology and associated services should be addressed more explicitly and comprehensively in policies and programs. It also shows that persons with disabilities have limited access to assistive devices in their daily life.
The background note prepared by INIT based upon the data collected from the ongoing study was a precursor for discussions in the regional consultation on Inclusive Technology and Innovation Policies organized by UNESCAP on August 28 – 29, 2018 in Bangkok, Thailand.