1.3 The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD)

The UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities places significant obligations on all state officials responsible for equal access to education and employment opportunities.13 The Convention contains a number of innovative and progressive concepts on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with disabilities.14 The Convention holds that the accessibility of ICTs is equally important as the accessibility of other domains, such as the built environment and transportation.

The Convention moves toward a view of disability resulting from barriers within society (such as steps at the entrance of a building for a wheelchair user) and away from the view that disability results exclusively from a person’s medical condition. This paradigm shift, from the medical to the social model of disability, puts the focus on giving persons with disabilities access to society and its structures -- what is commonly known as "accessibility." A second innovation within the Convention is the position that access to ICTs for persons with disabilities plays a pivotal role in overcoming many of these societal barriers.

The Convention was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 13 December 2006, and became an enforceable legal instrument on the date when the 20th ratification occurred, 5 May 2008. As of September 2010, 147 countries had signed the Convention, of which 93 had subsequently ratified it.15

13 Full text of the Un Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is available here: http://www.un.org/disabilities/default.asp?navid=13&pid=150

14 http://www.un.org/disabilities/default.asp?navid=23&pid=151#iq1

15Updates on the number of signatories to the Convention, its Optional Protocol and the number of ratifications can be found here: http://www.un.org/disabilities/