ICTs and Sustainable Development

There is extensive literature supporting the role of Information and Communication Technology (ICTs) in development, but less on its role in inclusive sustainable development and benefits of technological innovations for persons with disabilities. There is a need for socio-technical infrastructure for persons with disabilities, and  technology  that can effectively help all of a country’s population, with the understanding that  additional provisions or forethought may be necessary in ensuring equal access to such technologies.  

Reports such as the Maitland Commission Report contain a very relevant message  which is the fundamental importance of equal access to ICTs for the social and economic development of any country and all of its citizens. The Maitland Commission Report explained how in most developing countries the telecommunications system is not adequate even to sustain essential services and that in many areas there is no system at all, and regarded this disparity unacceptable. While much improvement has been made since 1985, disparities in technological access to essential services continue to affect persons with disabilities in the developed and to an often greater extent the developing world. The report also described the free exchange of information as a leveling of the playing field, and so by not ensuring equal information and communication technology access, a sector of a country’s population or say 15 percent,  would be disadvantaged.
These challenges highlight the extreme importance of continuing the work of organizations such as The Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs which works to promote the rights of persons with disabilities in the digital age. The  G3ict relies on an international network of ICT accessibility experts to develop and promote good practices, technical resources and benchmarks for ICT accessibility advocates around the world.  One of the ICT innovations in support of this work is the Disability Inclusive Development (DID) Policy Collaboratory. The Collaboratory leverages accessible cyber infrastructure and cyber learning environments to enhance the participation of persons with disabilities in global governance processes.With the creation of the Collaboratory, ICTs will play an increased role in facilitating disability-inclusive contributions to the UN Habitat III process and the New Urban Agenda. Because the  Collaboratory is an online work space,  it allows for increased human interaction between practitioners all over the world. These kinds of online tools are also instrumental in providing access to announcements, briefings, discussions, and reports from pertinent international conferences that many participants of the global disability community may have otherwise been excluded from.