The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) establishes a range of rights and responsibilities. It establishes rights for persons with disabilities and responsibilities for governmental and private sector players from signatory and ratifying countries. The scope of these rights and responsibilities is wide-ranging, including issues such as equal rights for persons with disabilities to education and employment, voting rights and the right to assistive technologies to enable persons with disabilities to participate fully in all aspects of life.
This Toolkit was designed to focus more specifically on the CRPD provisions regarding accessibility to information and communication technologies (ICTs). ICT accessibility is a cross-cutting issue that concerns a broad range of government agencies and ministries, including those for broadcasting, communication, education, employment and human rights. The Toolkit was designed to address policy makers and regulators in all of these areas.
The mandate of the government Members of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), one of the Toolkit partners, is generally related to telecommunications, broadcasting and Internet networks and services, networks and services which are increasingly converging and commonly referred to as ICTs. ITU members will find that the Toolkit identifies a number of best practices that fall squarely within their mandate, issues such as accessible websites, fixed and mobile handsets that incorporate assistive technologies and closed captioning for broadcasting services.
Because the Toolkit takes a broad look at ICTs, it also includes a series of horizontal issues and non-sector specific issues that may fall outside the mandate of the traditional ICT policy maker and regulator. For example, accessibility advocates have found that public procurement procedures that require government agencies to purchase only accessible ICTs leads vendors to produce accessible equipment that is sold to private customers as well. Likewise, while a voting machine may incorporate ICTs, few ICT ministers or regulators have been given a mandate to regulate ICT-enabled voting machines.
We invite policy makers and regulators from all domains to read and explore the full range of issues covered by this Toolkit. ICT-sector policy makers may well find that they can adopt some of the horizontal practices to promote greater e-accessibility, for example public procurement practices. Similarly, policy makers outside the ICT sector can adopt sector-specific practices in their own domain, for example, to develop accessible e-government websites. For ease of use, however, the Toolkit includes an electronic index that will enable those users concerned with more specific issues quickly to access best practices related to their area of concern.