Edited by Axel Leblois, Executive Director, G3ict
Two references in the text of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities address international cooperation and standardization. The first one, in its preamble, encourages States Parties to the Convention to cooperate for research and access to scientific and technical knowledge. The second one specifically addresses the need to establish accessibility standards, which, for ICT accessibility, are developed for the most part at an international level.
The Convention in its preamble recognizes "the importance of international cooperation for improving the living conditions of persons with disabilities in every country, particularly in developing countries..." It also establishes the ground in its Article 32 on International Cooperation for proactive exchanges "Facilitating cooperation in research and access to scientific and technical knowledge."
Obligation to define minimum standards
Article 9 on Accessibility specifies that "States Parties shall also take appropriate measures to develop, promulgate and monitor the implementation of minimum standards and guidelines for the accessibility of facilities and services open or provided to the public" Article 9.2 (a).
One of the important benefits of standards for persons with disabilities is to ensure a greater level of interoperability between systems, communication protocols and applications. In addition, from an ICT industry standpoint, the development of accessibility and assistive technology standards can greatly enhance market dynamics. Standards foster competition, enable industry to deliver mass produced, and therefore cheaper, accessible and assistive solutions based on greater economies of scale and competition.
Given the global nature of ICT markets and the international scope of most ICT vendor's activities, promoting international standards are an essential success factor for States Parties implementing ICT accessibility and assistive technology programs and policies. States Parties are therefore encouraged to the greatest extent possible to actively participate or remain updated on the work of Standard Development Organizations on e-Accessibility such as ISO, ITU, ANSI, ETSI, W3C-WAI, or other specialized SDOs.
• Section 4 of this Toolkit on "Technical Resources" references standards for all major categories of ICTs and ICT applications whenever available.
• Section 6 covers public procurement strategies including ICT accessibility standards.
• Section 10 covers elements of policy making including ICT accessibility standards.