The Business Value of Accessibility: Challenges & Opportunities

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Charlotte McClain-Nhlapo, Senior Operations Officer, The World Bank

Presentation at the European Accessibility Forum Frankfurt, 27 March 2009

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The Business Value of Accessibility: Challenges & Opportunities

  1. 1. The Business Value of Accessibility: Challenges & Opportunities . The European Accessibility Forum Charlotte McClain-Nhlapo Senior Operations Officer The World Bank.
  2. 2. Background The architectural design field learned a long time ago that the benefits of universal design extend beyond people with disabilities. In today’s knowledge economy accessibility of ICT is paired with the physical accessibility. Access to the physical environment and to Information Technology is instrumental for the enjoyment of many human rights and good for business. C.V. McClain-Nhlapo
  3. 3. Business Value of ICT Accessibility Social Factors - In many countries the technology is being used for government information and services, education and training, commerce, news, workplace interaction, civic participation, health care, recreation, entertainment, and more. Corporate Responsibility – accessibility affects organization's employees, stockholders and board members, suppliers and vendors, partners and collaborators, customers, and others Accessibility provides improved access, and thus can increase social inclusion, for other groups of people that are often a focus of corporate social responsibility. Improves the Banks ability to do business with Developing Countries, Governments, etc. if the information is accessible. C.V. McClain-Nhlapo
  4. 4. At the Bank Web Governance Strategy in process – Web Accessibility is a core component of the strategy – Adoption of W3C guidelines – This strategy ensures that people with disabilities, people who are aging, people with low bandwidth, low literacy will have access to the information on the Banks websites. The Bank aims to insert accessibility into the fabric of the way it does business. – Within the internal policies and procedures to support staff, within the operations programs, within employment diversity. – Every unit within the Bank has a responsibility to address accessibility at some level. – Whether it is our IT department, our facilities, our employment practices everyone owns accessibility. C.V. McClain-Nhlapo
  5. 5. Bank Commitment to accessibility Around 6% of investment projects mention disability Adoption of a web accessibility policy Public Information Center IT Accessibility Project ISG’s Accessibility Program Disability Accommodation Fund C.V. McClain-Nhlapo
  6. 6. What are our main initiatives/investments? Creating and maintaining an IT infrastructure that is accessible Extend the effects of development programs to a larger number of beneficiaries including persons with disabilities, seniors and other vulnerable groups. People, with or without disabilities, embrace and use an environment that is universally designed to make life easier. C.V. McClain-Nhlapo
  7. 7. The International Benchmark Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Art. 4 General Obligations Art. 9 Accessibility Art. 21 Freedom of expression, opinion and access to information Art. 32 International Cooperation C.V. McClain-Nhlapo
  8. 8. What is the Role of Accessible ICT in inclusive development? Accessible ICT for people with disabilities can play a crucial role for the inclusion of disability in the development agenda; Proper communication is needed to raise awareness on disability, which is too often perceived as merely a health issue, approached with pity, stigma and basically unknown to the public at large; ICT that is democratized will contribute to narrowing the digital divide and can be used to fight stigma and prejudice with the goal of true social inclusion. This can be part of including disability concerns within the realm of civil society. C.V. McClain-Nhlapo
  9. 9. Some opportunities The power of ICT to make connections can mitigate against the social isolation of persons with disabilities in most societies. ICTs can provide access to information, services, and economic opportunities Mastery of technology may improve self- confidence and enhance social standing The demonstrated value of ICT often provides yet another incentive for literacy and education. C.V. McClain-Nhlapo
  10. 10. Some challenges Because of their connective power, ICTs may be regarded with special suspicion in societies where people with disabilities are traditional excluded and without a voice. Most ICT interfaces require literacy in a major language as the point of entry The cost of ICT In a knowledge based economy the economic and social significance to information is increasing rapidly. People with disabilities without access to ICTs may find themselves on the wrong side of a widening ‘opportunity gap’- the other side of the digital divide. Is makes business sense. C.V. McClain-Nhlapo
  11. 11. ICT and disability and the link to e- government E-government requires – Access (telecommunications, & multi-channel service delivery infrastructure), – Demand (digital literacy, capacity building, affordability, relevant content in local language) and – Participation (multi-stakeholder consultations and partnerships) Governments pursuing this proactively – Bridging the digital divide (haves and have nots) – E-Inclusion – E-government for all C.V. McClain-Nhlapo
  12. 12. Conclusion ICT can increase access to opportunities and participation, and in so doing can open the world up to 650 million people. Furthermore the entire community can benefit from accessible ICT as people can be permanently or temporarily disabled. Everyone owns accessibility. C.V. McClain-Nhlapo

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