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In conclusion, Reading Hamlets recommends that inclusive of persons with disabilities must be explicit and included in both human rights law and development action plans, including non-discrimination clauses across the country. We need to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and effective learning environments for all. Inclusive education comprises of many aspects like an accessible school environment, inclusive curriculum, teacher training programs, and access to assistive devices. We need to work hard to harness the power of technology to promote inclusion and accessibility to help realize the full and equal participation of persons with disabilities. These plans must simultaneously address the development of support services for persons with disabilities and the removal of physical, informational and attitudinal barriers.
Here are some key facts to raise awareness about people living with disabilities
• Around 15 per cent of the world's population, or estimated 1 billion people, live with disabilities. They are the world's largest minority. (WHO)
• This figure is increasing through population growth, medical advances and the ageing process, says the World Health Organization. (WHO)
• In countries with life expectancies over 70 years, individuals spend on average about 8 years, or 11.5 per cent of their life span, living with disabilities. (Disabled World)
• Eighty per cent of persons with disabilities live in developing countries, according to the UN Development Programme. (WHO)
• Disability rates are significantly higher among groups with lower educational attainment in the countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), says the OECD Secretariat. On average, 19 per cent of less educated people have disabilities, compared to 11 per cent among the better educated.
• In most OECD countries, women report higher incidents of disability than men.
• Ninety per cent of children with disabilities in developing countries do not attend school, says UNESCO. (UNESCO)
• The global literacy rate for adults with disabilities is as low as 3 per cent, and 1 per cent for women with disabilities, according to a 1998 UNDP study. (UNDP)
• In the OECD countries, students with disabilities in higher education remain under-represented, although their numbers are on the increase, says the OECD. (OECD)
This year’s International Day focused on the role technologies play or can play in making different aspects of development inclusive, accessible and sustainable for everyone. The theme of this year's commemoration, “Sustainable Development: The promise of technology” is timely, as it marks the conclusion of the period of the Millennium Development Goals
(MDGS) in 2015 and the launch of a new development framework of sustainable development goals (SDGs). The Opening of the International Day included a message from the Secretary-General and participation from the UN Secretariat, Governments, civil society and students of The New York School for Special Education.
Photo credit: (UN) Christina Ude, at the United Nations with the NY School for Special Ed. students
The promise of technology for the disabled was explained best by Mike, a blind student from the New York School for Special Education who's life has been immensely impacted by assistive technology. He spoke very passionately about the importance of his assistive devices, what they've done for him and what his life would have been without these devices. He laid a lot of emphasis on accessibility of these devices to people living with disabilities.
The first device he talked about is the brown notes which helps him read, serves as his personal dictionary, take notes while he's in the classroom, records and does so many other things non disabled people do on a regular basis. He also said that the brown notes can provide documents in Braille n print. Another valuable example of assistive technology that he uses is the digital book reader for the blind also known as the victor stream. A handheld media player for the blind and visually impaired. It allows him record his voice and media with built-in microphone, listen to music and enables text to speech. He said he's very lucky to have these assistive technology devices. He concluded by saying that these devices need to be more accessible to people living with disabilities.
As we all know, technology is very important, technology is built in almost everything we do in life. We can't do without it. It is at the service of human beings and it needs to be more accessible to people living with disabilities. In Nigeria, majority of persons living with disabilities don't have access to assistive devices. People living with disabilities are largely excluded from sustainable development; in particular they encounter pervasive exclusion from development programs and funds, education, employment, health care services, communication, information, transport service and economic empowerment.