Chronicle

10 years with the UNCRPD

December 3rd is the international day of persons with disabilities, which sometimes means that media covers a little bit of ”our” topics. This year, Scandinavian news have been focusing on personal assistance as well as accessibility in education.

Susanna Laurin

Title: Chief Research and Innovation Officer

Last year, the European Accessibility Act was proposed on December 3rd. Simultaneously, the Mexican government published its policy on accesibility which we had been supporting. So it was big news for us, but hardly mentioned in Europe. I am sure many other important things happened that we failed to recognise.

Rules and regulations

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, UNCRPD, is celebrating its 10th anniversary. 168 countries have ratified the convention, which equals 87 % of the UN member states. During these ten years, development has been imense, but we still have a long way to go to achieve an inclusive society. Personally, I hope the coming years will focus more on implementation.

In parallell to this, Europe is moving towards increased legislation when it comes to accessibility of ICT. We recognise this very clearly, through a growing interest from suppliers in ICT, design and documents. All of a sudden, they are in a hurry to develop the skills and ensure that their staff know enough about accessibility to be able to sell to the procuring public sector.

This year has been extremely successful for Funka. We have won several large framework agreements and started our business in yet another market – Finland – at the same time as focusing mainly on policy assignments at the European, national and international levels. This is exactly what makes this job so exciting; moving freely between strategy and tactics, or theory and practical work, if you will. Standards, regulations and policy work have great impact, but user testing and hands on experience is always the most important part.

We, together with many of our clients, do hope that the stricter regulations will make it easier to raise understanding, and funding, for accessibility work. If so, the law is useful. In a network that we have started on behalf of seven European governments, we aim to make the Web Accessibility Directive something that supports the development of web accessibility, rather than a control mechanism, surveilling what already went wrong.

In many ways, it is business as usual at Funka: we work everyday with competence sharing in small or large groups. We test specific objects and investigate whole sectors. We invent new solutions at the same time as we work with redesign and improvements.

I would like to thank all our wonderful and ambitious clients! We wish you all peaceful and relaxing holidays.

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