IGF 2023 – Day 2 – WS #350 Accessible e-learning experience for PWDs-Best Practices – RAW

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.



>> Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. For those online, good morning, good afternoon, and good evening. This session is on eLearning. And the title is Accessible ELearning Experience for Persons with Disability, Best Practice. And we are having a few little technical difficulties, so I apologize for starting late. We have ‑‑ I'm moderating this session. And I am Chair of the Internet Society, Accessibility Standing Group.

And here next to me on‑site is Lydia, and she will be speaking about her experiences of eLearning in India. We should have online our other speakers. We should have Swaran Ravindra from Fiji University, Organizer of this session, and Zakari Yama, co‑organizer of the session, from Morocco, and Vashkar Bhattacharjee from Bangladesh, as well as Jacqueline Huggins, who is joining us from the Caribbean.

So, while we are waiting for them to join us online, this session is really about how persons with disability can get best access to eLearning platforms and the importance of the eLearning to be available to persons with disability across the world. And how can we make this possible. So, it's going to challenge ‑‑ we're going to talk about some of the pressing challenges pertaining to accessibility that persons with disability face when accessing online content on major eLearning platforms.

And we in the Accessibility Standing Group have personal experiences of that. We're going to talk about supportive legislative frameworks and how we can adapt strategies to assist from the academic, the private sector and government institutes so that there's much more inclusion when creating online platforms, because we know that if any online service is creates accessibility from the start, it is more effective, efficient, and cost effective.

So, I'm going to pass over to Lydia and talk about a little bit of her personal experiences, both in the past as a young blind person navigating the education system, and also talking about her current situation with eLearning through the Internet Society. So I'll pass on over now to Viddia. Thank you.

>> Hello, everyone. It's my pleasure to be talking to you today. Thanks to the organizers for having me here. And thanks to Grunella. About eLearning platforms, I would like to talk a little bit about my own experiences with eLearning, and also what I see working with children in India. So, I run a nonprofit called Vision in Power. We make STEM education accessible to children with disabilities.

So I will be talking mostly from their perspective and also my own challenges growing up with a disability, specifically on the eLearning platforms. I was born blind. So initial few years I didn't have access to technology as much, because of lack of awareness. There were technologies, but I was not using them. I got access to a computer only in grade 11 and since then as we all know, it has huge opportunities.

You know, until then if I had to communicate I had to ask somebody to ‑‑ if I had to even send a WhatsApp, any message, it had to be ‑‑ if I had to have written communication with a person who can see, then it would be someone else typing it for me or I could never have a return communication.

So for the first time when I used email is when I got access to return communication. That was the first time someone could read what I had written. Otherwise it had to be in Braille, which most of the persons who can see do not know.

So, we know how huge the impact of internet is on a person ‑‑ on the life of persons with disabilities. Even if you have to browse something independently it's all through the internet. ELearning is not an exception. Already classrooms are not very accessible. So a lot of things you have to come home and refer.

For example, when I was studying computer science I would go to the class and then come back home and find my own volunteers who could help me after classes. Now, when you talk about eLearning, firstly there are a few challenges, especially in subjects like STEM. You know, a lot of the times, the content itself is not so accessible.

Like, everything is designed in a way that a person with sight can understand. And when you take school textbooks, for example. So a lot of things are like look around, there's a lot of greenery, or this is in the shape of a mountain. A person who has never seen it, they wouldn't know what they're talking about. The content itself is written in a way that persons without sight cannot understand it easily.

The second challenge is with issues with ‑‑ regarding when I am talking about STEM. So you have a lot of ‑‑ if you have to read a math equation it has to be written in a specific format, which a screen reader can read. But a lot of times if it is a PDF, you have to upload the PDF to your LMS platform, they are not easily accessible. It just reads something like, if you want to write two squared, two superscript something or subscript something, things like this which you don't understand.

So if it has to read well. You have to write it in a way that is accessible. And thirdly, there are accessibility issues with the web platform itself. Sometimes there are unlabeled buttons, sometimes it just says link and you don't know what is the link. A lot of times I have seen if you open a PDF file, it just says page 1, page 2, you don't know what's on that page.

So a lot of times, they're protected. You cannot download those files so you cannot read them later. So there are challenges with the content, with the accessibility, and with STEM it's even more complicated. How do you put charts or diagrams, which a child or a student can understand. Everything has to be alt text and there are a lot of challenges.

So when we ‑‑ these are the challenges that I had navigating on some of these platforms, including when I was doing a course on Internet Society. It was not very easy to navigate. All said and done, these are the challenges that are accessibility‑specific. But one thing also I wanted to mention is there's much more than accessibility.

When you take school education system in India, for example, when pandemic happened, a lot of schools seamlessly shifted onto the digital platforms. But it was not the case for children in India and the teachers because you can't tell them go to YouTube and refer how to install Zoom, how to use Zoom, because everything says click here.

So when you don't use mouse it's not of any value. I had to make my digital ‑‑ in various languages for the teachers and students to use. And also we have our own accessible learning management platform. Some of the ground realities that I have seen getting the children and teachers onto these platforms ‑‑ even a little bit more than accessibility, actually.

One thing is making a platform accessible. Second thing is the digital training that you have to give them. Third thing is you have to ensure that there is some mechanism to hand‑hold the teachers, or the students, or to get new users with disabilities onto the platform.

Because with so many challenges it's not easy to be continuously motivated to get on, and after they get on they encounter other challenges. There needs to be somebody to hand‑hold them and make it very comfortable, because even on our accessible platform that we have, teachers wanted some other features.

Like they wanted phone. So it's very important to get ‑‑ they wanted an app. So it's very important to get their perspectives as well and make changes as we say, nothing about us without us. So we need to involve them in the process of making the platform accessible and hand‑hold them so that they're comfortable in the usage of this platform. So these are some of my thoughts that I wanted to share.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Viddia. There is a lot there to take on, to consider. And from Viddia's personal experience. I'll pass on now over to Jacqueline Huggins, who has the experience of supporting students in her university. So, please go ahead, Jackie.

>> JACQUELINE HUGGINS: Great. Hi. From here I'm saying goodnight. And exactly what was just said by the last speaker. What happens on our campus is that we have a policy. And that policy is what is used to encourage lecturers, academic staff, to do what is right for the student.

And our department is almost like a watchdog in terms of a student who has visual impairment, who is blind is registered with the campus. We then work with that student and we work with lecturers so that they understand content not being accessible is very important. It is something that we always have to sit one‑on‑one and speak to lecturers about why it needs to be done.

And we have students also speaking with the lecturers, this is what my need is. So the lecturer has a better understanding. We have had issues where students have to deal with graphs, students have to deal with calculations. And lecturers have to being creative.

So sometimes, we're not even able to use the online platform. We have to use lecturer and student talking it through, finding solutions that is not necessarily online. In terms of when COVID hit, that is where we really understood the challenges that our students with disabilities, especially students who are blind and students who were deaf.

We recognized the issues that they face. And even though we recognized it, our university management decided that they were going to provide laptops because we didn't realize our students didn't even have access to laptops, didn't have access to internet. But the university came up with a plan where they worked with providers to provide internet access in areas where students did not have it.

They also provided loads of laptops so students were able to utilize it. Then again, training was very important. Training for some lecturers, training for some students. We just assumed that students were able to navigate and that was not the case. So my department had to deal one‑on‑one with students to ensure that they were not left behind.

We also had attitudes of, you know, some lecturers. So for instance, we had a student who is deaf. And the lecturer is using Blackboard and she asked him to put on captioning. And he refused. I had to intervene. Again, although we had a policy, we still depended on the will and the goodwill of lecturers and academic staff to do what needs to be done.

I'm not sure if India has a national policy, but Trinidad and Tobago, we don't have a national policy. We are in the stage where we have a draft disability bill and hopefully when that is passed, our students on our campus and our students anywhere will be able to navigate, will be able to be trained, will be able to have the type of access that they need to have. That's it for me.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much. And I think that we are naturally segueing into policies and legislation, and where that fits. And Swaran, I will ask you to maybe make some comments about that from your perspective, please.

>> SWARAN RAVINDRA: Thank you, Grunella. Thank you very much. First of all, I wanted to say thank you. It resonates with the topic we have today, because I don't feel as a citizen of the country, that we would be able to lead a dignified life until each person in the country has access to the basic services that every other person has.

And I think the resilience that the people of Trinidad and Tobago has is amazing, as Dr. Huggins just mentioned, there is no national policy at the moment. Dr. Huggins, four years ago, when I went, I was actually a visitor to University of West indies and I met this wonderful woman and I learnt a lot from her.

And one thing I learned was even though there is no national policy, we need to have people who are continuously there as a support system. A lot have met people who have told me that though there wasn't a disability policy, but we have used other avenues, other legal instruments that were there in terms of support for persons with disabilities.

For example, the education agencies, education is accessible to everybody. Everybody means everybody. It also includes persons with disabilities. So there are people who firmly believe in inclusion as a basic, fundamental human right and they exercise it through other avenues, not just disability.

If I were to shed some light onto what happened in Fiji, when we had a bill passed in government for accessibility, for the rights of persons with disabilities, that was in 2016. In 2018 was when the act came into practice. However, to date, we do not have anything written in legislation that says that persons with disabilities need to have access in every avenue in terms of everything that is supposed to be there for a citizen, public amenities, social platforms, social media platforms, places where people interact, meet, citizen‑centric services, education, and many other avenues that most people enjoy seamlessly.

So in Fiji, though, we have the act, 2018 act that says that we need to create the provisions, but it doesn't say what those provisions should be or how to create those provisions. There's nothing that is written that says you need to ensure that all your website is accessible. What I've been doing so far is whenever I get an opportunity to speak to an audience and I talk to them about inclusion, I talk to them about occupational health and safety.

It is legislation of the country and no organization can bypass that. So we are talking about having accessible entry points in a building, which is absolutely important. But at the same time, we are neglecting ‑‑ we are not taking into consideration those people who are not there physically. They also need to have access to amenities. They also need to have access to the website.

So accessible website is still something that is rather new, a new concept. So I think we need to start working in that area.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much. There is so much to do. Viddia, could you explain from the Indian perspective on legislation policies in regard to accessibility and education, and has that policy and legislation actually been implemented?

>> Yes. From the Indian context, actually now the government is trying to come up with National Education Policy where they're trying to make a lot of changes. And inclusion is considered as one of the most important areas. Actually, a lot of people now are trying to get onto inclusive education, than having special schools and special education system for the visually impaired.

It's all there, but I'm sure it will take a lot of time to implement it. But government has started thinking in the right direction. One thing about India is that while we were working with schools, we cannot go from ‑‑ to every school and get approval, so we are directly working with the state governments. We have ‑‑ with the state governments and they send out circulars to the schools to follow interventions. That's how it's been working.

What I have seen, in India, there are so many states. And in each state the policies are very different. So in one of ‑‑ suppose in one state, the special education or education for persons with disabilities will come under the separate department, like Department of Social Justice, or whatever is in that disability office. There are different departments for persons with disabilities.

So sometimes the education comes under that department. But in other states, it comes directly under the Department of Education. So these are two different departments. And there is nothing throughout the country the same policy. Sometimes when it is with the education department, the accessibility and awareness, those aspects are not very much there, because it's for general education.

And even sometimes if it's under the special education department, a lot more needs to be done. But it's a little bit better. So there are all of these constraints that are there. There's nothing nationally everyone is following a certain thing. It's different for different states. But also we have actually signed a Convention of Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act in 2016. A lot needs to be done, but it has started.

I'm not saying what it was a decade back, it's still the same, because government is actually trying to make their websites accessible. It has started. So that's currently there. And there needs to be something central for special education in the country, which right now is not there.

>> MODERATOR: Yes, there is certainly a lot to do. And one of the areas that we often talk about is universal design and its principles to ensure that there is design from the start when it comes to how a platform is accessible for anyone. If we take for example in the built environment, if we have a level entrance to a building, instead of stairs, that means that it's useful for persons using a wheelchair.

But it's also useful for someone pushing a program or a delivery cart. And it's not a special adaption. And that's what we like to see more and more of in the online world. And for example here in this room, we have captioning. And there has been a lot of work done to ensure that there is captioning in these particular sessions.

But it's essential for a person who has hearing loss. But it's really good for anyone who is ‑‑ has a language other than English and needs to have confirmed what is being said. Or maybe there's some facts that they can catch up with on the particular captioning.

So I'd like to ask Dr. Huggins your thoughts about universal design and its principles in the online learning environment.

>> JACQUELINE HUGGINS: Just to clarify, we have a national policy. However, we don't have any legislation to back that policy. So you have a policy, but nothing is being done. Thankfully, the draft disabilities bill of 2023 will change that.

Now, in terms of universal design, I ‑‑ my personal thought is it can be done! And it is useful for everyone. So, in terms of our academic staff, I will have met with some academic staff and tried to show them that based on what they do and how they do it, it will allow any student to benefit from their delivery.

It will allow any student to be able to do that assignment. One of the things we talk about is really the cost. So for instance, my university was built 75 years ago. And how do we retrofit the physical. We have a school, we have started teaching many years ago. And this school online, and internet is very new to them. So how do we change the way they think and understand in terms of meeting the needs of every student within that classroom?

That is something we continue in terms of awareness. We do outreach. We meet with the organization on the campus that provides training for academic staff so they have a sense. Websites ‑‑ I am working on a campaign where we are trying to get every faculty's website to be accessible. We have new things. I am not sure if you heard of Canva. And we have some colleagues love to do Canva. They love to put pictures.

And then when they do that, a students who blind, their equipment cannot read. So it is a constant ‑‑ you must have a watchdog. I call myself a watchdog on that campus. You must have a watchdog that looks and sees and recognize and then speak out, you know, on behalf of students.

We also work closely with our students. What are your needs. And we have to meet your needs once we recognize and we said yes, we are taking you into this campus, we must recognize your needs. And, therefore, we, my department work very closely with the students that we serve so we are always liaising with the lecturer and our deputy principal in terms of changes that must come.

Our mantra is that we are going to create a campus without barriers. And that is what we work towards. Universal design is super important.

>> MODERATOR: I like your term, watchdog. I often use the word accessibility champion. And I would encourage any organization to ensure that there is either a watchdog or an accessibility champion to keep reminding the fellow staff and within the organization generally to ensure that there is accessibility and that it doesn't slip away.

Swaran, would you have any comments on that, please?

>> SWARAN RAVINDRA: I was just listening. It's totally remarkable. You know, as mentioned earlier, as Dr. Huggins previously said, I think it's evidence that legislation only is never enough, because even without legislation, this remarkable woman has done so much work.

They have come up with textbooks. They have come up with education. If I may make reference to Professor Harrington. So I remember when I met her, this was about four years ago and she told me no, we do not have enough legislation for persons with disabilities specifically, but we do have the education act that says everybody.

That did not stop her. That was something she utilized when the term everybody means every citizen of the nation. And that is what gave her enough legislation to go ahead and create a tertiary level education, a master's degree or postgraduate degree in inclusion. That teaches teachers how to make their classes inclusive.

So I think this is enough evidence to say that legislation on its own is never enough. We do need the watchdogs. We need people who have to be there constantly ensure that inclusion becomes part of our DNA. It needs to be part of our muscle memory, our everyday mantra. Nobody has to be left behind, because somebody forgot to address the needs of a particular person.

So just at University of West Indies, we also have ‑‑ in which we meet a student and then we have a discussion, go through some student counseling session. But the other obstacle we face in that area is that the right still remains with the student if they want to declare their disability. And many times, with these cultural norms, we have these societal norms, we have challenges around that as well.

Because unless somebody declares the disability, there will not be much that we can do to help. That does become a barrier. In fact, to refer to a specific case, I remember teaching a student who exhibited traits ‑‑ I wouldn't say symptoms, but traits of a person who has a form of autism. And if I were to be specific, because I had some discussion with some other teachers.

And they told me that it seems like that it is or it isn't. But we could not put a finger on what type of autism. Unless we can do that, we will not be able to create the special provisions that are needed. So that becomes an obstacle. With we tried to talk to her parents, the parents had a very aloof type of reaction. They said no, my child doesn't have a disability. For them, disability is something to be kept quiet about.

It's something that would be embarrassing and they feel if anybody gets to know the child has a disability, then it is something that is not something to be proud of. It is something that could deter people in giving her opportunities in the workforce as well. So these are some of the obstacles we are facing.

We practice ISO and we've had situations where I remember there was a time when we had a participant in a short course program and she might have been in her early 50s and she had superannuation, she was paying for her course through superannuation. And there were people in the class who told me, it's dangerous to pay class.

They used disturbing terms, but what could have been the case was ‑‑ I had other participants telling me she could be dangerous. We brought in another legislation where we need to protect every participant in the class. Sometimes we have legislations that contradict with each other. But there comes a point in time, in my case as a teacher I need to stand my ground and say no, my student as a constitutional right to be in this class.

If we are not creating the right provisions, we are not doing the right thing. Eventually we had a good discussion. This was in 2006. We still kept that student in class. The fact that she was using her own superannuation, it was evidence enough that she was in a sound mind to actually work for herself.

So there are so many things that contradict with each other as well. But in cases like that, we probably need another act that stands robust on its own. The fact that we need to create the provisions for persons with disabilities and that was enriched within the 2018 act of rights of persons with disabilities.

The incident I'm telling you about happened in 2006. So the only instrument, the only legal instrument I had in order to keep this student was the fact that it is a basic right. It is a constitutional right to be in class. As in many lesser‑developed countries, in many economies that are still developing, there will always be a huge gap between what the constitution says the citizens should have and what the legislation says in terms of what happens when those rights are breached.

We need to focus on the gaps and found out how to address them.

>> MODERATOR: There is a lot to unpack there. And I think that when it comes to the issue of cultural barriers in terms of the general education community understanding what it means to have a different type of disability, and the shunning, the stigma in some cases. Viddia, do you have any comments about that, and also in terms of universal design?

>> VIDDIA: Yes. As I was already mentioning, that sometimes it's the accessibility‑specific issues why people are not able to get onto the digital platforms, or things like that. But sometimes it's also all of these barriers like cultural norms, considering it as a stigma. So it almost happens in all villages. For example, there is one lady who stays next‑door to my house.

And she rarely comes out of house. 40 years now, she's almost 40. 40 years, she's a blind person and she's locked up indoors. So there are situations like that. And I myself have seen, trying to get some women onto digital platforms so that at least they can be connected to the community. When I try to reach out to them, in the initial stages there will be somebody at home picking up the call and not connecting to them.

So they don't have even that much freedom for them to get onto digital platforms. So all of these barriers definitely are there. And sometimes it's also how we design the technologies. Even social issues are sometimes socially how we want to look, for example. If you take simple example of a cane, some people are not comfortable taking it and walking with it because it looks very different.

Now if there are some specific devices which are too big or which are not very ‑‑ which are ‑‑ what to say, they're not very socially pleasing to take it in a social setting, then people will not like to use them much.

So, some phone for example is a very good example of universal design, because on the phone there's TalkBack, there are all sort of accessibility features that are there. You can turn it on when you want, you can turn it off when you want. So phone everybody carries this. Nothing that prevents you taking it wherever you are in a group or you are in a social setting.

So you have to consider all of these barriers as well while designing the eLearning experiences and make it as inclusive and as socially acceptable as possible on what platform you want to design the eLearning experiences. So all of these will also have to be factored in. And continuous support for people to use the platforms also is a must.

Sometimes the government runs a lot of programs. They distribute laptops, they distribute a lot of devices or even some other organizations distribute it to students, the software is installed, but who is going to oversee whether the students, teachers, or whichever person wants to use the platform?

Are they able to use it on a long‑term basis? All of these will have to be considered along with accessibility issues.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you. I'd like now to bring in Zakari Yama from Morocco, who is a co‑organizer of this session and also on the leadership team of the Internet Society Accessibility Standing Group. And so if Zakari could make some comments about universal design principles, too. Thank you.

>> ZAKARI YAMA: Thank you, everyone. As some institutions said, I find it difficult to apply universal design and make it compatible with accessibility, even though both have the same goal, making access and reduce barriers for students. However, the scope and method they use vary.

For universal design, it focuses on a broad range of learners while digital accessibility focuses on learners with a disability. But the good news is that what is good for persons with disability is also good for everyone. When we take, for example, realtime captioning for persons with disability, it is also good for student without disabilities, because when they have for example a difficulty understanding an instructor's accent, it's also good for them when watching a video in a loud environment.

When applied with an accessibility mindset, the universal design for learning often leads to resulting in benefits for people beyond those in need of a specific accommodation. In my opinion, learning institutions should use the accessibility effort as an opportunity to improve the universal design practices. Thank you.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Zakari. Before we go on to talk about the broader concept of how the internet community can all work on making eLearning more accessible, I'd like to open the floor now to persons in the room and online. And if there are any comments or questions. Yes. We have one from Lydia Best. Please take the microphone.

>> AUDIENCE: Thank you very much. I'm Lydia Best, and I represent hard of hearing people. And I have a question not around just the eLearning in the classroom itself, but also before. So for example, students have to access internet and online resources teachers provide for them, be it assignment, be it whatever materials we need to use.

What I have seen and what is in the UK, the IT department in the schools often apply a very heavy handed way towards accessing the online resources in the schools. And that, in fact, is a barrier for those with cognitive disabilities. And, you know, just constantly changing the passwords, constantly changing the way to access, it stops the students from accessing vital information and from being able to provide the assignments.

And the problem, what nobody actually sees this as a problem, even when you raise it, because it is being seen as this is simple. This is no problem for anyone, so why do you have a problem. We need to address that as well. Thank you.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Lydia. Who would like to take that question? Viddia or Dr. Huggins, Swaran? Who would like ‑‑

>> JACQUELINE HUGGINS: What I would like to say is I understand what was just said, but on my campus, again, my department, we work closely with IT. We listen to whatever complaints students have and we take it to whichever quarters. So for instance, we had students who could not afford the software that is needed, the JAWS. So what I did is that I worked with my supervisor to gain funding so that we were able to purchase four licenses and put it in each one of our libraries, our computer labs.

So our students were able. IT was included so that they had an understanding of why we were using the software, the reason why the need to support the students. So it is also about finding the stakeholders who would listen, finding the stakeholders who would understand and ensure, you know, that what the student needs is what the student gets.

There is some equipment that's very expensive that our students cannot purchase. And, therefore, the university has that responsibility. And once the university has that responsibility, those who are involved in ensuring that it happens, like our IT unit, they are definitely brought on board.

So, you know, a lot of what we do, it takes meeting and talking, negotiating, which shouldn't be. It should be this is what needs to be done, but it takes some of that to ensure that, you know, the students are not frustrated. The students are able to come on campus and they are able to do what they need to do.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you. Any other comments to that question?

>> SWARAN RAVINDRA: I wanted to clarify from Lydia once more. Is the question around the need of having to constantly change the passwords, or there's too many authentic practices that make it difficult for a person with disability to continue working, is it something around that? If Lydia could please clarify, I'm just trying to understand.

>> LYDIA: That's correct. So what is even before you go online to participate in your online learning. I'm not going to talk about captioning, but it is actually accessing vital materials that students have to get into online library where the teachers put in the assignments for students. Students get chastised for not finishing or finalizing the work, but we literally could not remember the passwords.

And when we were raising it, it's a constant battle of working with IT to understand that actually you can't keep changing those passwords. You can't keep ramping up security because it creates a barrier for the students. And I have seen it first hand with my son. Thank you.

>> SWARAN RAVINDRA: Thank you, Lydia. That's a valid point. Additionally, students should never be penalized for extra time they require logging into the system. The assessment should start from the moment the student has accessed the main curriculum. If you look at ‑‑ if I could speak about certain exams, Cisco exams, Checkpoint, Microsoft, if you do the exams you are assessed only for times that you are actively online.

If there is any technical issue, then whatever time the issue takes wouldn't be he would against you. You would be compensated for the time. That's one part of the question. Now, of course it's very important for us to be resilient in today's world. I cannot emphasize that enough. However, there are so many easier ways of authentication. Thumbprints, retina scan, there's so many different types of easier authentication methods that are specific to the person.

There are methods that are specific to the person. So there's no other way of bypassing that. It's very secure. And it's easy as well. So I fail to understand why would they try to impose such difficult types of authentication methods and waste their time and make it such a deterrent that the student would not want to go back to class.

So maybe you should really advocate for this.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Swaran. And there is another question or comment here in the room.

>> AUDIENCE: Hello. I'm Ana from Brazil and I work in an organization. And I would like to hear a little more about Lydia's work with children. If you can comment about the role of civil society and promoting their rights. And you talk about guaranteeing the accessibility since the design, too. And it's what we defend for children, too.

But I want to hear about your thoughts about how can we do this and promote this if we don't have the platforms involved in this debate, or we don't have persons with disabilities working in those places so that they can promote these accessible ways. And what is your thought about that?

>> MODERATOR: That's a long question, and also it can be a very long answer. And I think we can make it part of the rounding off of this session about how the internet community can encourage collaboration across the globe to make eLearning more accessible for persons with disability, and children children with disability. So I'll pass now over to Viddia.

>> VIDDIA: Yes. So, I feel a little bit, to answer the question, that you had asked earlier. So when you're talking about children, a lot of times children do not know what they want. So it should be the persons with disabilities who have grown up in similar circumstances, who have gone through the system to tell that this is what the children need.

So once the child knows that these are the ‑‑ because what I have seen is whenever you take any new technology to the child, they are very open‑minded. They're not very biased. They have not grown up yet, so they don't have their own assumptions. So whenever you take something new, they pick it up really, really quickly.

So I don't see why a childs who introduced to a computer, who is introduced to Braille, to technology, who knows everything right from grade one, why won't they be able to compete with everyone else when they reach grade eight or nine? They can do very much everything with everybody else. So that's what we are trying to give all of these right from very early age, everything that a child has access, a child with sight has access, we are trying to make it available for children without sight as well.

And I feel the nonprofit organizations have a huge role, because they're the bridge between the government and they know the realities working in this space. So it's very much essential for the nonprofit organizations to be that bridge and to play the role very effectively.

Also, as an internet community, I feel that having forums like these where there are people who have expertise in different areas sharing their thoughts, networking and actually coming up with what are the pressing needs that the community at large has and actually following up with the networks that we make here, making a meaningful impact together.

Anyone individually cannot do it. So I feel forums like these and the internet community has a huge role to play. And it takes time. So it's a good starting point.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Viddia. And it's so important to hear from a person with a lived experience and the pathway that Viddia took to become now a global advocate. That's very important. I'd like to now pass on, in the last few minutes, just very briefly to Dr. Huggins, just to give some thought about this encouraging collaboration across the globe, which we've already heard about.

All of those experiences from various different countries. And how can we continue that collaboration to make eLearning more accessible? Dr. Huggins.

>> JACQUELINE HUGGINS: I simply want to agree with forums like these, because this is where I learn and this is where I take back to my university and try to get it implemented. And, you know, this organization, there's a wealth of knowledge, a wealth of experience. And we cannot stop. We need to continue. For instance, one of our campus is fully online. And it covers 13 countries in the Caribbean.

And students are able to get their degrees. And I believe if we utilize a system like that, you know, little by little we spread it. I am talking to somebody from India. I'm talking to somebody from Fiji. And we learn from each other and put together what are the best practices. And we start to utilize whatever we learn on these forums.

It's not a thought shop, we're going to take back thoughts, some action and think little by little we stay with this ‑‑ we stick together and we can get it done. It's going to take some time, like she said, but it's not impossible.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much. And I will give a final word to Swaran Ravindra, please.

>> SWARAN RAVINDRA: Thank you very much. So, finally, I think through all of this conversation, there's something that I want to talk about, it's affirmative action. We can talk about these things. Last year I met someone at IGF. I've been saying the same thing for the past ten years. We can do it together.

So some of the things that could help is first of all, a disparity measurement. We cannot talk without having proper measurements. Governments will not listen to us until we have intellectual property that is based on disparity measurements.

So basically, it's a simple measurement of how many people are included over how many are not. And there's some standards like WCAG. To the least if we could try with 1.0 even in places where there is no such thing as digital inclusion ever done. So if we could have Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 to start off with.

The initiative I wanted to talk about is UNESCO's assessment, it's based on human rights principles, it is open, it should be accessible to all. And it is multistakeholder participation as well as some cross‑cutting issues like children, gender, security, economy. So this is quite an interesting study. I'm part of this, if anybody would like to talk to me about how you could do this, I'll be happy to address it. That's all I have to say. Thank you very much.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much to the panel, and the audience with your questions. And I think we have learnt a lot. And we look forward to further collaboration across the globe. Thank you very much, everyone.


>> JACQUELINE HUGGINS: Thank you and good‑bye.

>> SWARAN RAVINDRA: Can we take a photo? I happen to be one of the session organizers. Apologies. Wearing two different shoes today. Please take a photo of the audience in the session and also those online. Are we ready? Two, three. Thank you very much.