The following are the outputs of the captioning taken during an IGF intervention. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.
>> BRIAN SCARPELLI: Hello, all. This is your moderator for the session starting momentarily. Workshop 446, Commonwealth Hard Talk for Action. I just wanted to check and make sure that my audio and video is OK. And check that our captioner is all set. I think I see the captions there. Excellent.
Well, it is the half hour now [Laughing]. Perhaps we should commence with the panel. And I see we're recording and everything.
So with that said, welcome, everyone. Thank you so much for your participation and your interest in this very important topic today.
This again is workshop 446, Commonwealth Hard Talk for Action. My name is Brian Scarpelli, and myself and Matthew Schwartz, who is sitting in the room with you are with ACT. We're a not-for-profit association for small businesses in the technology development space, across consumer and enterprise use cases.
So you can imagine for us, how excited we are to be with you ‑‑ to be involved with this panel at an IGF. Huge, it's an immense priority for all of our members.
And just to give a brief overview of this panel, kind of what we're aiming for here. I think we all recognize that ICTs do help break through barriers to communication and access to information. That they enhance mobility and foster independent living and are a key contributor to greater social, cultural, political and economic integration and inclusion.
The challenges of the ongoing COVID pandemic, amongst others, I think have also illustrated this, and really pointed out how critical ICTs are for those with disabilities. And, you know, 15% of the world's population at any giving time living with a disability, frankly, more.
It's extremely important. So this session is one that we have actually done before at IGF, and the intent is to explore innovative uses of ICTs for the empowerment of persons with disabilities, enhance awareness of what is already possible. And also explore what's coming down to pipeline.
There's a more lengthy description that you can find on the website for this panel that will give you a little bit more info, if you would like. But our expected outcomes here are to help raise awareness, understanding of how Universal Design principles for accessibility can be advanced across the Internet. Enabling persons with disabilities to talk about what the IGF community can do, what action can be taken and where cross‑sectoral collaboration can and should occur to improve the experience of those with disabilities.
And to ensure appreciation of a diversity of perspectives from all of our panelists. So very briefly, format‑wise, I think for this panel ‑‑ I've already knocked out the intro and saying hello for myself and my organization.
But briefly, I'll just introduce our speakers. Just their name, and leave it to each of them as we talk in turn with opening remarks to give you some explanation about who they are and where they are coming from, and to share some opening remarks.
And then we have questions [Laughing]. But we want your engagement. That's what this panel ‑‑ that's what makes this panel so valuable and helpful, I think, to the IGF Community.
So please do share those questions. We are ‑‑ looks like, we'll use the chat and we'll monitor the chat. Just checking to see if we had Q&A function.
But we have lots of questions to ask to all the panelists, and questions directed at each of the panelists as well. Very quickly, first our first speaker. Gunela Astbrink, Betsy Furler, and Judy Okite. And Ricardo García Bahamonde as well. Apologies there.
I would love for you all to go in order with Jorge Manhique first, to provide some opening remarks and we can move to questions and hopefully have a great dialogue with the community here. Go ahead.
>> Hey, Brian, looks like Jorge is having some trouble in logging in.
>> BRIAN SCARPELLI: OK. We can come back to him. Thank you, Matt. Gunela, you want to go ahead?
>> MATTHEW SCHWARTZ: Gunela is also having trouble logging in. Let's go to Judy first?
>> JUDY OKITE: Thank you very much. My name is Judy Okite, from Nairobi, Kenya, where we advocate for accessibility to online content data and offline, that is regarding access to physical spaces and also, as far as sign language is concerned and all that.
It's a pleasure to be here, and thank you Matthew for inviting me. Thank you.
>> BETSY FURLER: I'm Betsy Furler. I'm from Houston, Texas in the United States, and I am the founder and CEO of an organization called For All Abilities. We use a software to help employers support their employees, with all sorts of disabilities, differences. And we're passionate about not forcing disclosure of a disability or difference in order to get support. My area of exposure is in cognitive accessibility. I'm a speech pathologist or speech therapist by training.
>> MATTHEW SCHWARTZ: So that's it for the room, Brian. We could go to Ricardo next.
>> RICARDO GARCÍA BAHAMONDE: Good morning. Can you hear me?
>> BRIAN SCARPELLI: Yes.
>> RICARDO GARCÍA BAHAMONDE: OK. Good morning, from here, from Madrid, Spain. Ricardo García Bahamonde. I'm an ITU consultant, and I've been collaborating with ITU for years. And I also have another hat as head of accessibility and digital inclusion for the Iberia region at Atos. I've been involved in the field of accessibility and inclusion for persons with disabilities since 2004.
It's been quite a few years and I keep learning about this matter every single day. And my background is an economist. I have a master's degree in economy by the Complutense University of Madrid. Really appreciate, and I'm very thankful for the invitation and for being able to be able to participate in this panel and event.
So very excited and looking forward to the discussion.
>> MATTHEW SCHWARTZ: Brian, you're muted.
>> BRIAN SCARPELLI: I do it every time. Apologize for that. Excellent. Thank you so much. When Jorge and Gunela are able to get on, we can certainly come back to them.
But this is, again, intended to be a dialogue with you all. And we'd like for this to be an intimate, interactive conversation with all of you in the community.
To start us off though, we have, I think some rather open‑ended questions. But hopefully get you all out there in the community thinking about maybe specific things you want to ask, interventions you want to make, et cetera.
To Betsy, Judy, Ricardo, would love to hear from all of you, just generally about what the state of accessibility is from your experience, in your region, perhaps. How does it compare with other regions or globally, ICT accessibility?
>> RICARDO GARCÍA BAHAMONDE: So you say who gets started.
>> BRIAN SCARPELLI: Go ahead! Why don't you go ahead?
>> RICARDO GARCÍA BAHAMONDE: Thank you. I'll take the floor. So in Spain, there's been a legal framework for many years, actually. And right now, we are mainly, even though we have our own, let's say, national framework, for years, we're basically under the EU regulatory framework.
So there's two main directives that apply in the EU space, in the European Union space, that I would highlight. Those are the web accessibility directive that came into force in 2016, and that applies to every single ‑‑ everything that's digital in public sector.
Applies to all websites and mobile apps that the public sector entities use or put at the disposal of the general public, of all citizens.
That as a lot of implications in terms of public procurement of course, right? Because this directive that has been transposed to every single national legal framework, of course, considers or contemplates that of course, public sector from procuring from private sector. Everything web, app, and everything digital that they procure, of course, needs to meet standard. EEN103549. This was really important, back in the day.
And now, just this year, the European Accessibility Act was passed. So it's being transposed to the national legislation.
So each EU member. And it will enter fully into force in '25.
So this means, and this one affects the private sector as a measure for market harmonization. Not so much around human rights, but it's like the other ‑‑ it's like working on the other end. So we've got these two legal forces working from different angles.
Both of them aiming at the same thing. So we're hoping that this is going to be really, really important, because this will mean that basically, if you want to sell your products or services in the EU space, you're going to need to meet the accessibility standards.
So we're excited and we're looking forward to see how this whole thing unfolds. In the sense, the legal framework is pretty strong. And obviously, just like in every other country, there is a need, I would think, for stronger enforcement mechanisms.
>> BRIAN SCARPELLI: Excellent. Thank you. I see Gunela made it on. Excellent. Welcome. I had just asked one of the ‑‑ sort of our opening question, which was asking anyone to weigh in on the state of accessibility from your experience in your region, et cetera.
But it would be great for you to briefly introduce yourself too [Laughing] before. If you want to go now, or I know Betsy or Judy could also go. Do we not have audio for Gunela?
>> GUNELA ASTBRINK: Now. Now.
>> BRIAN SCARPELLI: Great.
>> GUNELA ASTBRINK: Thank you very much for the introduction and my apologies for being late. There were a few little log‑in issues I had to deal with. And yeah. Happy to be here.
And because I missed the beginning, I'm not sure if I'll be repeating myself or not. But it's actually good timing, because today is the 1st of December, and the 3rd of December, as we probably all know, is the International Day of Persons with Disability. The theme this year is "Not All Disabilities are Visible." I think that's important to remember, because we always talk about persons who have vision impairment, hearing loss, physical disability, and they make a big difference to accessibility in terms of what we need to do.
But when it comes to invisible disability, for example, people who might have cognitive disabilities, learning disabilities, autism, acquired brain injury. There are particular accessibility issues that come up that we need to consider.
And that relates to use of friendly sites, apps, intuitive design, good navigation, content that is easy to follow, et cetera. So all of those things, we need to be concerned about. And certainly pay attention to this year.
And all ongoing. I'm glad Ricardo discussed the issue of the web accessibility directive and the Accessibility Act in the EU. They really have potential for global effect.
And I'm just going to mention that if anyone is interested, there is a webinar that the Internet society standing group, with ‑‑ 5th of December, 12:00 UTC. Quite a plug.
That will go into a lot of detail exactly what the implications of that directive. And I think we can all benefit from further information about that.
I just wanted to mention another point to start off with. In regard to, we always hear about big tech and a lot of issues. But we also need to think about companies like Google, Apple, Microsoft, who have been innovators in particular services that really have had a huge impact on persons with disability.
And some corporations are signed onto what's called the Valuable 500, which is a group of 500 CEOs of major corporations globally that have decided, pledged that they are going to work towards making a difference on accessibility and a range of different types of services for persons with disabilities.
So keep that in mind and whether you are small or large, we can all make a difference to improve accessibility. Thank you.
>> BRIAN SCARPELLI: Thank you so much. Excellent. Betsy, do you want to go next?
>> BETSY FURLER: Sure. So in the U.S., I feel like ‑‑ well, the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1990. So we have had a law around accessibility for quite a few years now. I believe that most people in the U.S. still focus very heavily on hearing, vision, and mobility issues. Although we have made very good progress in those areas, there's still a ways to go. But we have made progress in those areas.
Cognitive accessibility is often let out of the conversation in the U.S. From my professional experience, both at conferences, even conferences on accessibility and disability, it's often left out of the conversation. And when I speak to employers, they often tell me that they don't have any employees with disabilities.
As we all know, is almost universally not the truth. And what is often left out are those people with cognitive accessibility issues. And that's really 100% of us, because we all think, work and learn differently throughout our lifetime. Our weeks and even our days.
Whether we're jetlagged because we're in a different time zone. I know I'm nine hours different here than I am at home. Definitely affects my cognitive skills. People with long COVID, and long COVID symptoms are going to be affected also, cognitively for quite a while.
So I feel like that in the United States, we're still really not addressing those issues.
>> BRIAN SCARPELLI: Thanks, Betsy. You know, just to take my moderator hat off for a second there too, I would personally go even further to, you know, it's a powerful point that you make there about the year that the Americans with Disabilities Act was adopted.
And since that time, especially in the last few years, there has been some struggles in applying it to new Internet‑based modalities. Which does beg perhaps a policy update.
Sorry, am I coming through OK?
>> MATTHEW SCHWARTZ: Yeah, Brian, we're just getting a bit of feedback in the room. I think the audio folks are working on it.
>> BRIAN SCARPELLI: Sounds good. No problem at all. Well, perhaps, I think, Judy ‑‑
>> MATTHEW SCHWARTZ: Judy wanted to make an intervention here, sorry.
>> BRIAN SCARPELLI: Exactly. Yeah [Laughing]. Please go ahead.
>> JUDY OKITE: Thank you very much, Brian. I was just telling Matthew that Gunela did not introduce herself, so some of us do not really know her. Gunela, you'll need to do that.
But just to catch on to where we are in Kenya. We had the ICT national policy that was reviewed in the year 2006. And the intention to review it was that it can align with Agenda 2030 for Kenya, and also the new constitution. A few things needed to be put in place.
So it focuses on forming objectives. So that is the market that is, we are talking about training. We are talking about inclusivity. And so when we look at the inclusivity bit about it, in 2020, there are national ICT guideline that was presented in the year 2020.
And that was primarily to break down the policy on implementation phases, who is supposed to do what. Because we find that there are very many when it comes to the ICT in Kenya. There is the ministry, there is the authority, there is the regulator.
And so the guideline stipulates who is meant to do what. Because there was always a confusion. So the implementation would remain harming, because nobody knows exactly who is supposed to do that.
So that is ongoing. So that's what happened in 2020, and then last year ‑‑ sorry, this year ‑‑ in the month of May, Kenya published its first ICT Accessibility Standard for products and services. I think we're the first in Africa.
And so it's still, the standard is still at its infancy. And so we are still trying to find around how that is supposed to work.
Looking that standards are normally voluntary. So we have to work a way around how do we enforce that and ensure the products and services have to be accessible.
So we hope that the rest of the continent is going to be coming to us for benchmarking, and it's not going to be the other way. That another country is going to pick it up and begin implementing before we do that.
So that is my opening remarks. Thank you.
>> BRIAN SCARPELLI: Thanks. Much appreciated. And I do see Gunela provided some background info on herself in the chat too. That helps very much. Thank you for that.
The next question I have, and not everyone needs to answer this, but all of you are certainly welcome to. Another one that maybe a little thought‑provoking, a little curious about what you folks in the audience think about this.
But how has the pandemic affected the uptake, the development of ICTs in your region, in your experience? What are the lessons we may have been able to learn from this as they relate to accessibility?
You know, some people have framed, if you're looking for a silver lining, as they say. You're looking for the positives in a lot of negatives, and a pandemic is almost entirely negative, right?
But if you're looking for some of the positives or the secondary impacts that's might have some value, you could argue that in some cases the pandemic has accelerated digitization across a number of sectors, namely the healthcare sector, across different markets.
I'm curious if there's a noticeable impact on accessibility in your experience. Anyway, that's not a question directed to any specific panelist, but I would love for any panelist to weight in anything they've observed or trends or anything like that they would like.
>> BETSY FURLER: I'm coming from the private sector and I can definitely tell you that the pandemic had a major impact on the accessibility issues of most people with or without disabilities. I know the aging population has really struggled through the pandemic due to Internet accessibility issues. Whether that's access to the Internet or access around accessibility issues once they have the access.
Even in a town like Houston, Texas, a very, very large city, we have part of our population that doesn't have access to adequate Internet. And during the pandemic, that meant they weren't getting the healthcare that they needed. Children weren't getting the education that they needed.
And it is shocking when you see a city like Houston having those issues. Also, I feel that the COVID virus itself and the long‑term effects of that are also going to kind of compound the problems that we've already been seeing.
So I think the pandemic has probably done kind of two things. Two counteracting things in that area. One, causing more people to have accessibility issues. And then also providing access and more understanding around the need for access to the Internet.
>> JUDY OKITE: Just to weigh in from what Betsy said. The pandemic kind of brought in a positive for us, because accessibility issues are things that we have been making noise about for quite a while. But when the pandemic got here, and then everyone realized that the services and products are going online, then how many people are actually going to be able to access them. Now that accelerated it.
So it was very interesting to see the legal fraternity coming to the front and beginning to bring these issues to the forefront. I think the year 2021, and very early in 2022, we had a lot of awareness of accessibility issues being brought to the floor.
So I'm just hoping it wasn't a hype. That it's something that is going to move forward after that. Because now that becomes another issue, that this is the hottest thing, so we can talk about it. And then what's the next hottest.
So we hope it's not going to be left in limbo.
>> BRIAN SCARPELLI: Great. Thanks. Somebody else want to speak? Yes, please go ahead.
>> RICARDO GARCÍA BAHAMONDE: Piggybacking on what has been just mentioned. Yeah, I think the pandemic, we've seen it pretty much everywhere. It has meant an expansion, explosion of digital. Just think of how many people have never used the tool that we're using at this moment, Zoom, or other similar videoconferencing tools like Teams or many others. Many people were not familiar with these.
So lockdown, many people having to work from home and having to use these tools on a daily basis, and many others.
So if anything, the pandemic has meant two things. One, an explosion of digital in many aspects, and many businesses, organizations that were relying on analog, have swept away, have disappeared. We have seen that pretty much everywhere. On the other hand, with this expansion of digital, it's meant that the uptake of accessibility hasn't kept the pace, of course.
And that's easy to see in the last few years, but now it's exponential. If you do just a simple search in Google Trends and you search for digital transformation, for example. That term, as compared to digital accessibility or web accessibility, the gap is huge between both curves.
These are not scientific, of course, but that tells you something. The degree of interest shown just in Google searches. How do I take on a digital? How do I take an accessibility, right?
But at the same time, I think this is an opportunity, because many of the issues that hadn't been addressed years ago, now they've become evident. They've been brought up to the surface, and they just can't be ignored any longer.
The problem is that during the pandemic, we were all in an emergency situation. And this is a critical aspect. Emergency situation, or emergency communication systems are critical in many different situations, like natural disasters. That's what we think of.
Now this was a different one. This is a global pandemic. And many people were blocked from receiving the information and being able to communicate with the authorities or people in charge. People that could provide services, vital services, or just basic services.
So we've seen an issue there. Huge, huge issue, in many, many countries. And on the other hand, that has been brought to the attention of the authorities. So we're looking forward to seeing positive changes in that respect, in the next few years or immediate ones, actually.
>> BRIAN SCARPELLI: Excellent. Thank you. Well, there's a couple of questions. And just for folks, either in the room or really, for those in the audience participating digitally.
We're just continuing to monitor for questions, et cetera. Interventions you might want to make.
But there were, towards some solutions. Some constructs. Some fora, that are out there today, where you in the community can get involved.
I think our panelists are, as I think you can tell, are experts. But are leaders in some of these fora. Gunela, if you could maybe elaborate a bit on the ISOC accessibility standing group?
I know in the lead‑up to this panel, we had talked about accessibility and government procurement, and how that can have a wider effect as well. Those may be kind of two different points, but they're probably also related.
But could I throw it to you to maybe raise awareness about the Accessibility Standing Group?
>> GUNELA ASTBRINK: Sure. Yes, thank you. The Accessibility Standing Group is relatively new. It was formulated earlier this year. But it came out from an Internet society special interest group, and before that, a chapter on special (?) and disability, which has been operating.
So it's been operating in one way or another over many years. And it's really designed to promote digital inclusion for persons with disability, and hopefully, one day, we won't need to talk about this. It will just be a given. Wouldn't that be incredible?
But unfortunately, we've got a long way to go. And so we're working, first of all, with an Internet society internal accessibility working group on a number of measures that the organization itself is taking to be more accessible, which is looking very promising. And we have created awareness by running webinars. And I did plug for a webinar on the EU web accessibility directive and the European Accessibility Act.
Before, we're also going to have webinars, generally, in various parts of the world. One in Fiji, one in Bangladesh, and obviously the one that I mentioned in Austria. So we are looking also at doing a social media campaign about the importance of accessibility for business.
And how it can actually benefit business. And it all ties in, really, with this aspect of accessible features in public procurement and in both European regulations, legislation that's coming in.
So if companies are going to supply their services, then they really do need to make sure that they are accessible. So that's really what it comes down to. So apart from that though, I really want to talk about the importance of persons with disability, like us, raising awareness, advocating for accessibility, usability, user‑friendly services across the board. But we need more voices.
There's not enough of us. So we, fortunately, we're able to link in with the Asia Pacific school of governance, to run capacity building workshops. One in Bangladesh on this topic. So disability advocates could learn more about Internet Governance. And from there, be able to speak out in their own countries and train others in their own counties to do so.
We're working on online course ‑‑ on an online course on disability leadership and governance and digital rights. And I think that's just hot off the press really. That's just being started in terms of developing the contents.
So it won't be available for quite some time. But to have a large number of people with disability, to speak from their own lived experience of disability is really important. It does make a difference when you have a blind person explaining why they can't access a particular website or an app or a particular online tool.
Because it just doesn't work for them. And they can demonstrate that. The same applies to a person with a hearing loss. And I could continue.
So that's what we're aiming to do. And there's a lot of other things in the pipeline, but I'll stop there. Thank you.
>> BRIAN SCARPELLI: That's great. Thank you so much. You know, one thing you mentioned, Gunela, which I was separately ‑‑ several of the last panels at various events related to accessibility that I've been on that this has come up.
Is that for the private sector. For a business, there's a strong case for embracing accessibility by design. A business case, I think.
Which I wonder if ‑‑ or I guess I struggle with [Laughing]. Because I feel like from the private sector, there's a perception, that it's like, legal requirements that are punitive or something like that. When not only it's the right thing to do, but just from a business development perspective, ignoring accessibility in the design of an ICT is practically excluding customers. And I've always ‑‑ I try to emphasize that a lot.
And I guess it seems like an understated incentive to me. But that's just me throwing in an opinion there.
>> GUNELA ASTBRINK: And if I could continue on that line, it really is so important for business to do that. It's not only a good thing to do, but it's actually creating revenue. And there's been a few studies that show that, say in the U.S., billions and billions of dollars could be lost if a business doesn't make their services available. People will go elsewhere.
And not only the person with a disability, but their family and friends. And it all works against a business if they are not considering disability. And so, yeah. Just makes good business sense.
>> BRIAN SCARPELLI: Agree [Laughing]. And maybe this is a good bridge, Ricardo, if it's OK. Because I realize you have a report coming soon about accessibility, digital inclusion within job recruitment in the hiring context.
And perhaps that, the incentives for the business environment are something of a bridge to that. That's another I think important development for the IGF Community to learn about. Is it OK for you to share a little bit about that?
>> RICARDO GARCÍA BAHAMONDE: Yeah, sure. So in the last couple years, I think, through the EU collaboration with ITU, we've been working on a couple things that have to do with improving the hiring processes, the recruitment processes. Making them more accessible and inclusive in different fields. In the EU sphere. In the United Nations sphere. But then in other organizations.
We actually looked into how the web portals or job portals, what they look like in terms of accessibility. And we found a bunch of issues that were taking place pretty much across the board. And that have to do with things like, I don't know, for example, when we're filling out a form and applying to a job.
So many forms are not labelled or they don't indicate the information that needs to be entered. Or some fields that are mandatory are not indicated ‑‑ only indicated through a visual, you know, asterisk, but not labelled properly.
Or things, elements that can only be selected via mouse‑clicking. Obviously, that process issue goes to many users.
Many, you didn't have alternative descriptions. All sorts of issues with inaccessible PDF documents with instructions on how to fill out a form or how to go about applying to a specific job, et cetera. Right?
So all kinds of issues that we see across the board. And also usability barriers. So it's not only about how things are not being done correctly from a programmatic standpoint. But also from a usability standpoint.
So we collected all those findings, and we started working, as I said, a couple years ago in a guide that may build in on these findings, but on best practices that would like to reflect recommendations on how to improve these recruitment processes in general, but the accessibility of job portals.
And this guide will be coming out in the next few weeks hopefully. But I'll let some of the ITU people in the room to probably talk more about that, if that's pertinent.
I want to mention that in the whole research that we did, we highlighted the role ‑‑ and I know that we may be talking about this sometime later in the conversation, Brian. But we highlighted the role of artificial intelligence in recruitment processes.
Because as we know, they are ‑‑ many AI‑powered algorithms are being used in procurement ‑‑ in recruitment processes. For example, during interviews or when screening through thousands of resumés or curricula that organizations, employers receive for a specific position.
So that's ‑‑ there's a lot of really strong, robust research out there, saying that there's risks around using AI for this kind of thing. And there is specifically a report on artificial intelligence by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Disability Rights with special recommendations on how to avoid the discriminatory use of AI that has been written with guidelines on what organizations should do, and also national policies that should be put in place and legal framework, in order to avoid this kind of discrimination that's already happening.
So as I said, this report is going to be ‑‑ or this guide, actually. This guide or guidebook, is going to be pretty comprehensive with recommendations around how to make all these processes much more inclusive and accessible, of course.
And it's going to also include resources, a ton of resources, hopefully, around accessibility in general. How to create accessible content and so forth.
So yeah. Excited about that and really looking forward, because we think it's going to be a really useful resource for many stakeholders out there.
>> BRIAN SCARPELLI: Excellent. Thank you. And that's probably also a good ‑‑ I see you have your hand up, Betsy. But I know For All Abilities works on helping businesses become more inclusive internally, in their own processes. As well as they're external facing, how they would deal with customers, et cetera.
So curious about your perspectives here, what kind of priorities you might advocate for to provide a level playing field for innovative technologies and processes.
>> BETSY FURLER: Yes. Thank you, Brian. I just want to first reiterate the business case for accessibility. Not just for people with a diagnosed disability or a disability that they're willing to disclose, but for being able to reach all of your users, or all of your employees. Especially with a case of employers and employees, most people, even people with a visible disability, don't want to disclose that disability at the beginning of their application process for a job.
And that can cause all sorts of issues around forced disclosure if you have to disclose the disability to get the access to, for instance, just the application. And ends up being a very discriminatory practice. Also the usability is so important for accessibility, because, as I stated earlier, we all have cognitive changes throughout our ‑‑ even our week or day.
And as your product and your communication is more accessible for people with disabilities, it's also more accessible for every other user in your organization. Or your customers, or whoever is using the product.
It is so important ‑‑ it's just good business. I want people to do it because it's the right thing to do. And, but it also makes a very good business case to make all products accessible. I wanted to just very quickly run through, because I think especially on cognitive accessibility, there's a lot of mystery around it.
And people consider it to be expensive or it's the unknown, and it's scary. So I have ‑‑ I love illiteration. So I have the four Vs of cognitive accessibility: vanilla, visual, variety, and value.
Vanilla is a term that we use in the U.S. to say that something is kind of "plain" or bland. Maybe uninteresting? And that often helps accessibility. Because when you have too many visuals, too much text, and not enough white space, it's very difficult from an accessibility standpoint. So just keeping that in mind is helpful.
Visual colors matter. It matters. There's issues around colorblindness as well. But also, there are issues around if you have something that means go, and you color that red, universally, that makes no sense.
And you wouldn't believe how many times I've consulted with companies who have made that very mistake. So you want to think about colors matter. You want to minimize distractions. Focus users' attention on the most important content, and use a lot of white space.
Variety. You want to think about a variety of learning styles. That helps accessibility, because if you're thinking about audio, visual, maybe even hands‑on learning, if we're talking off of computer technology. That's very important.
Decreasing the complexity of the language helps everyone. And especially when you have people who may not speak the language. It may not be their first language that they're navigating in. Also, people with cognitive disabilities, limiting the language helps.
It also helps from a hearing standpoint. And then value. Make sure you value all of your users. And also, use content, only the content that adds value, not content to fill spaces.
I think those four things. Variety, value, visual, and vanilla, the four V's kind of sums up things people can do to make a digital product much more accessible to all of their users.
>> BRIAN SCARPELLI: Absolutely. Thank you. Judy if it's OK, I would love to ask for your perspective on this. And from your experience. You were discussing already, a little bit there about what has happened, and what you've observed, et cetera, in Kenya.
It's really intriguing to me, first of all to hear what you think about your reaction to the other panelists, but also, I too have observed ‑‑ you know, in advocacy that I do around things like trade agreements, digital economy trade agreements and things like that.
That Kenya is really something of a bellwether, and the idea that community leadership ‑‑ such an interesting possibility. I'm curious about what you think. And the potential for others in, not even just in the region of the African continent where Kenya is, but elsewhere and beyond, to follow the example.
>> JUDY OKITE: Thank you very much, Brian. My thought on this would be where we are lacking is capacity. Capacity to accessibility when it comes to the industry. In terms of yes, we have the policies. Yes, we are leading.
But we are stuck with implementation, because what exactly does this accessibility mean? What are we supposed to be looking at? Who in the field knows exactly what is supposed to be happening.
So I think that is a point that we need to move forward. Within our curriculum, whether you're doing web development, whether you're doing, even at the university level, accessibility is not really part of it.
So anybody who is working on accessibility, it has been their own initiative. It's not something that they have ‑‑ it's part of a coursework that they went to do that. I see that across the board.
I was just whispering to Matthew, like there's no closed captioning for those who are in the room. Because I have noticed that there are those amongst us who are not able to hear. So we've lost them in most of this conversation since the time we started.
So I think it's something that should be practiced across the board. We need to understand accessibility from the industry point of view. Thank you.
>> BRIAN SCARPELLI: Thanks. Much appreciated. Well, I hope ‑‑ I know Matt has put this into the chat as well. But do welcome any community interventions or questions.
I realize as well, that we are getting near the end, and we are supposed to stay on schedule here. So I had a great question, I think [Laughing]. That I'd like to just open up to any panelist who would like to briefly or expand on their answer. And anyone from the community who might have something they'd like to contribute too.
But kind of getting at solutions, next steps. How can Universal Design principles for accessibility be advanced across the Internet to improve the experience of those with disabilities? And what priorities, what changes are needed from an Internet Governance standpoint to accelerate progress?
>> MATTHEW SCHWARTZ: Brian, looks like we have a question here in the room.
>> BRIAN SCARPELLI: Oh, wonderful.
>> Thank you, thank you panelists. I'm based at Wesleyan university. I'm a teacher of the deaf as well. So talking about accessibility of technology, and I've been listening to the presentation. Gunela, and talking about disabilities in general. So my question is specifically to her, but all the panelists.
So are there any disability‑specific technologies which can be adapted to like third‑world, in Africa, specifically for the deaf people, what are the current, highest form of technology that can alleviate the communication problems compared to other mobility or any other forms of disability types?
So, specifically for the deaf people, what is the highest form of technology that can be adapted to the African countries, to the deaf people? Thank you.
>> GUNELA ASTBRINK: Thank you very much for your question. It's a good question. And I can't give you an exact answer. But certainly, there's a need for more sign language interpreters in every country. And to encourage people who are deaf, as you would be doing through your school, for people to use sign language who are deaf.
Because that is their first language. When it comes to technology, there are a number of innovations, high technology, which would need probably further work. And I think in the interest of having one minute, it's probably not the best time to talk about it.
But if you could put your details in the chat, we might be able to continue that conversation. So thank you.
>> BRIAN SCARPELLI: Thank you for that. And my apologies there. Very much appreciate that audience question. I do realize that we do have one minute left. But perhaps we could do a rapid fire with the panelists [Laughing]. Attempt.
Maybe if you had to pick one particular solution that would advance universal design principles for accessibility, from an Internet Governance policy standpoint, or otherwise. And does anyone have any that really come to mind perhaps? Just thinking about ending on some solutions that might get us all motivated and thinking about next steps.
>> JUDY OKITE: Capacity‑building for both industry and for the persons with disabilities themselves.
>> BRIAN SCARPELLI: Great.
>> BETSY FURLER: I would say equal access to the Internet in general. Because if you don't have access, if you can't even get onto the Internet, then all the accessibility in the world doesn't matter. You've got to have that access.
And the equality of the access across all types of people and throughout the world.
>> RICARDO GARCÍA BAHAMONDE: It's Ricardo here. I totally agree with Betsy. Even if you have the best technologies at your disposal. Unless they're deployed across a country and made available to people, even in remote areas, it won't matter how good they are, right?
So first of all, you need to have, obviously, the infrastructure, the deployment of digital. But then obviously, you're going to need a ton of capacity‑building. And this means a change in the culture as well.
So unless you want to get this whole effect to trickle down to the population and people that need it. Talk about education, for example. Schools, teachers, et cetera, and decision‑makers. You need to launch a whole awareness raising campaign, and supported also by technical capacity‑building.
So there's several steps that need to be included in a whole policy, I would think. In that sense, as Judy mentioned, Kenya is taking very determined steps in moving towards the adoption and deployment of accessibility across the country, with the adoption of the N31549 as the standard that I had the pleasure of attending to the event back then in May.
But then, again, I think it's very, very important that awareness is deployed across the board. Through government institutions and decision‑making actors.
>> BRIAN SCARPELLI: Excellent.
>> GUNELA ASTBRINK: I would like to just follow up and agree with the comments made by other panelists. And certainly, add that having accessibility champions in any organization is vital. So that it's not forgotten, it's not an afterthought. It's there in the center of policy. Policymaking, programs, communications, across the board.
So once we have that and more persons with disability, employed in organizations. So it becomes natural that, yes, how do we accommodate ‑‑ how do we do this? It's just part of what we do. So yeah, that's my final word. Thank you.
>> BRIAN SCARPELLI: Excellent. Well, I really want to thank you all as panelists. And to everyone from the IGF Community here who participated today. It's such a critical topic.
And I think there's some great resources being developed you've heard about. There's some very powerful fora that are doing incredible work, that your perspective is essential to.
And this is really a core part of the IGF's mission. So pleased to be able to participate with everyone here. Really honored. And thank you all. I hope everyone has a wonderful rest of your IGF.
Matt, I would defer to you. I cannot ‑‑ I apologize for this. I can't recall if there's a survey or an evaluation we're supposed to ask people to fill out or something like that.
But if so, we can share a link or maybe just tell people in the room. Thank you, everyone.
>> GUNELA ASTBRINK: Thank you.
>> RICARDO GARCÍA BAHAMONDE: Thank you. Thank you so much. It's been a pleasure and a privilege.