Universal Accessibility: Pillar and Bridge for Human Rights and Sustainable Development

An Intervention at COSP13 side event,  Nov 30, 2020, by Hannes Juhlin Lagrelius, WBU Program Officer, Global Program for Inclusive and Accessible Urban Development 

  1. Dear excellencies, delegates, co-organisers, partners, friends and all attendees to this important side event, including all Organisations of Persons with Disabilities.
  2. I speak to you today on behalf of the World Blind Union, a founding member of the International Disability Alliance, and the global organisation representing an estimated 253 million persons who are blind and partially sighted globally.
  3. First, I would like to recognise the great leadership of the UNSG Special Envoy on Disability and Accessibility Ms. Maria Soledad Cisternas Reyes, and acknowledge the importance of the just launched campaign on Universal Accessibility.
  4. It goes without saying that we are running out of time to inclusively fulfil the commitments in the 2030 Agenda. While recognising that we have witnessed many achievements since the adoption of the CRPD, crises such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has been a wakeup call to the world:  that we have not done enough to address and act upon the persistent and emerging accessibility barriers which sustain discrimination and exclusion facing persons with disabilities.
  5. Accessibility is truly foundational in Building Back Better together towards more inclusive and equitable societies for all in line with the CRPD and by its universality it gives us the bridge between human rights and sustainable development for all.
  6. It is high time for all of us, member states, local and regional governments, UN bodies, multilateral organisations, development actors, the private sector, and Organisations of Persons with Disabilities and along with the civil society sector to take collective steps moving forward and being part of the change.
  7. Being part of the change means moving beyond reiterating that accessibility is critical – now it is about taking action to deliver it.
  8. Organisations of any kind play a critical role here, to put accessibility as a central component of their work, avoiding that accessibility and disability inclusion becoming and afterthought.
  9. The time to act is now, and organisations must decide on how to deliver accessibility across systems, practices, and programs. Ultimately, the approach organisations take on this will determine if their envisioned outcomes and impact are truly leaving no one behind.
  10. We want to contribute towards universal accessibility for all and to move from rhetoric to action. Against this backdrop WBU and CBM Global Disability Inclusion recently launched a first-of-its-kind resource the Accessibility GO! A Guide to Action. The guide aims to support any organisation, be it a government, UN agency, company, or civil society organisation – working at any level – with practical guidance on how to take a whole-of-organisation approach to accessibility and practice it holistically. It promotes the equality of all persons with disabilities, and centres around a process framework and 7 core accessibility commitments, along with self-assessment templates and lists of key resources and definitions. By using the 7 accessibility commitment assessment templates you can assess where your organisation is at in order to plan what actions to take.
  11. Recognising the immense scope of accessibility and that organisational contexts differ, we know the guide is not a blueprint, but a framework for practical action. As the guide is jointly informed by OPDs and accessibility professionals, and fully aligned with the CRPD it is a powerful tool which can be used by, and adapted to, any organisation. We believe that this guide also will support OPDs to enjoy their expert role in their own right, in supporting mainstream organisations making accessibility for all a reality.
  12. By making use of the guide and its approach, organisations can be increasingly equipped to meet their legal obligations, be economical, more environmentally friendly, do no harm, foster inclusive resilience, and truly contribute towards more inclusive and accessible communities.
  13. WBU specifically like to share our great appreciation with the Special Envoy for your invaluable contribution in making this guide a reality and for providing us with an incredibly strong foreword introducing the Accessibility GO!
  14. Finally, WBU likes to congratulate the Special Envoy on the successful launch of the campaign on Universal Accessibility. WBU is fully committed to support and play our part towards making the campaign a success. We hope that the Accessibility GO! A Guide to Action can help make sustainable change happen.
Share this: