Beyond the Treaty--A Connected Community

November 21, 2013
Source: Friends of ATIA Newsletter - November 2013

As exciting as it is to see the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) ratified by so many countries, the latest report from the G3ict serves as a reminder that policies, alone, only reach so far (see "CRPD Progress Report Highlights Digital Accessibility Gap" below). Indeed, implementing those policies and taking action so that quality of life actually improves is another matter altogether.

I have the opportunity to travel to different places around the world in my role at ATIA, and I see how much is not happening for individuals with disabilities in countries adopting the disability treaty (as the CRPD is known). Many countries are looking to the future for how best to support their citizens with disabilities, yet it's striking how little is often understood about not only assistive technology, but also disability, and the range of supports needed for the concerns of the treaty to gain traction. After all, it's one thing to adopt a Web accessibility standard and another to actually implement changes and create program models that reach the population. Access to the Web and other ICTs has value only if individuals first access the education and supports necessary to make use of them. Success comes from nurturing the whole ecosystem--from a technology perspective, a professional supports perspective, an education perspective, and a community perspective.

I constantly think about how we can take what we know in the more developed countries and share it. Networking, learning, sharing and implementing is really, in the end, the whole purpose of ATIA. This is the mission and purpose of the Orlando conference and why we offer webinars: to educate and share knowledge so that more people have access to it.  Recently an organization charged with AT professional development throughout their country came to me to ask how ATIA's webinar program works. They were interested in how we provide professional development, observing that we offer content on so many topics and from so many professionals. I emphasized the need to reach out to lots of people--not just expert professional trainers--but also to practitioners, to the people implementing technology, those who have tried something that's worked.  It's what we have done at ATIA, cast our net wide, recognizing that we need lots of people, not just a few experts. It's an approach that helps support what comes naturally to so many of you, a passion for helping one another and for sharing what you know.

So this is a call to action. How can we create a more connected community? How can we share what we know even more effectively with each other and also with nations at risk of false starts and reinventing the wheel? Today technology is so powerful; we have so many Web sites, blogs, and Tweets, etc., and yet I come up short knowing where to send many in our global community to find the comprehensive help and information they request. There are activities around the world serving regional needs to bring together information, but there is not a lot going on to encourage dialogue and participation. We have yet to come together with all that we know, and consider how to organize ourselves and our body of collective wisdom for the benefit of each other and of those just beginning.  

If you have ideas, I'd like to hear them. Find me in Orlando. Email me. Let's begin this conversation.

Best, David Dikter, CEO ATIA