ICTs and Inclusive Sustainable Development

This week, we discussed the role information and communication technology (ICTs) play in inclusive sustainable development. In this post, I will discuss how ICTs affect sustainable development, how ICTs are integrated into the UN SDGs, and how NTIA’s Falling Through the Net pertains to persons with disabilities (if it does at all). I will end with how ICTs relate to my capstone project.

ICTs are crucial for sustainable development; technology and communications bridges geographical separation and makes communication and the dissemination of information and tools more efficient. ICTs accelerate sustainable development by restructuring societies and redefining the ways we interact with one another; people can expand their social networks within a country, but ICTs also make global communications more feasible and accessible.

For example, to put ICTs in a global context, ICTs are integrated into the UN SDGs. In particular, ICTs contribute to SDG #9 on Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure. ICTs in developing countries now allow them to participate in the digital economy and e-commerce, ultimately benefitting people’s incomes, well-being, and competitiveness in a global market. The use of computers, as well as other technology, is expanding financial inclusion.

ICTs are also important for SDG 17 on Partnerships for the Goals because when people around the world are more inter-connected with one another, there are more opportunities for discussion and collaboration on issues. Leaders and actors can now meet digitally, on the phone or through a computer, to solve some of our world’s most pressing issues.

In NTIA’s Falling Through the Net: Defining the Digital Age, there’s a Trendline Study section on telephone penetration, computer ownership, and internet access, all looking at the profiles of the least and most connected group of people. NTIA looks at income, race, origin, education, household type, age, and employment. As you can see, NTIA does not look at persons with disabilities, which I think would yield some startling results when looking at if they are a group that would be considered least or most connected;  persons with disabilities face obstacles and barriers to using ICTs and acquiring the technology and accessing information. In one study I found, in a study conducted in 2015 by the Pew Research Center, only 24% of persons with disabilities owned a basic phone, 68% owned a smart phone, and 45% owned a tablet (Morris et. al). As we have discussed in class, we must consider why persons with disabilities do not have equitable access to ICTs and then pursue solutions to expand the use of technology and accessible information globally.

ICTs are useful to my capstone research project because ICTs can help spread information about recreational services and opportunities in cities; from parks to centers to pools to volunteer meet ups. ICTs also play a significant role in moving towards inclusive recreation. For example, we must consider if recreation websites are accessible and if there digital applications to help persons with disabilities find recreational sites (we talked in class once about having an app that gives people a step-by-step route guidance, which is a great idea that DC should look into).


John T. Morris, PhD, W. Mark Sweatman, PhD, Michael L. Jones, PhD Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center for Wireless Technologies Shepherd Center, http://scholarworks.csun.edu/bitstream/handle/10211.3/190202/JTPD-2017-p50-66.pdf?sequence=1