SDG 4 “Quality Education” and CRPD article 24 for “Inclusive Education” work together to create a quality education system that is accessible to the needs of all. In fact, article 24 defines its goals as “ directed to:
- The full development of human potential and sense of dignity and self-worth, and the strengthening of respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and human diversity;
- The development by persons with disabilities of their personality, talents and creativity, as well as their mental and physical abilities, to their fullest potential;
- Enabling persons with disabilities to participate effectively in a free society.”
SDG 4 defines its goal more broadly as “ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning”, but also includes specific targets and indicators for implementation. These international frameworks guide and unify behavior on the part of States and non-state parties like civil society and the private sector. This is necessary because as a marginalized group, persons with disabilities face barriers in transportation, employment, education, political representation, and access to ICTs.
Much has been done to implement action on the part of the grand challenge of accessible and inclusive education. For example, the G3ict has produced a “Model Policy for Inclusive ICTs in Education for Persons with Disabilities” discussing the implementation of the CRPD articles 9 (Accessibility), 21 (Freedom of Expression and Opinion, and Access
to Information), and 24 (Inclusive Education) explicitly for policy makers. In fact, the World Report on Disability 2011 estimates that there are between 93 and 150 million school-aged children with disabilities globally, making this a active and urgent field. Their ideal policies include mainstream technologies like computers and cell phones that contain in-built accessibility features, assistive technologies like screen readers, alternative keyboards, augmentative and alternative communication devices, etc, videos with captioning, DAISY (Digital Accessible Information System) books, EPUB, etc., and more.
The ASEAN region, where an estimated 400 million persons with disabilities reside, is particularly active in disability work. These 10 countries include Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, and more. UNICEF’s 2003 report evaluates education policies like the those of the Royal Thai Government, the Golden Key Project in China, and the Disability Action Council in Cambodia.
The Institute for Disability and Public Policy, or IDPP, has worked heavily in this area as well by using its function as a virtual organization to use technology and cyber learning to drive accessibility through the creation of a virtual graduate institute in conjunction with a large network all over the world. This work offered a fully online Masters of Public Policy through AU (the first of its kind), continuing education through certificate programs, workshops, and capacity building, etc.
The research produced by the organizations is invaluable, but only if it is actually implemented. As with the ASEAN region’s Incheon Strategy “Make the Right Real Campaign”, the knowledge of existing gaps must be used in order to actually increase living standards of persons with disabilities and bringing them to the table in how education is actually used.