1.3.1 Dispositions on ICT accessibility

Accessibility is the one over-arching general principles contained in Article 3 of the Convention. Article 9 on accessibility specifically mentions access to ICTs as a key enabler for the enjoyment of other rights. such as the right to an inclusive education and the right to work.

The definition of communication in Article 2 states that it includes:

“Languages, display of text, Braille, tactile communication, large print, accessible multimedia as well as written, audio, plain-language, human-reader and augmentative and alternative modes, means and formats of communication, including accessible information and communication technology;”16

The CRPD specifically mentions terms for assistive technology in eight of its articles between Article 4 and Article 32 (i.e., Articles 4, 9, 20, 21, 24, 26, 29, and 32). Measures that could include assistive technology (e.g., "take all appropriate measures") are mentioned in an additional 17 articles.17

Defining Universal Design

The Convention recognizes the risk of exclusion resulting from advances in technology, if the requirements of all end users -- including persons with disabilities -- are not taken into consideration. This is addressed in the Convention through the concept of universal design, which is

“The design of products, environments, programmes and services to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design. ‘Universal design’ shall not exclude assistive devices for particular groups of persons with disabilities where this is needed.” (Article 2)

Article 4 contains a specific recommendation that all new technology developments be “universally designed.” This helps reduce the cost of including accessibility features by incorporating them at the earliest possible stage during the product development cycle.

The Convention also holds that in and of itself, access to information about assistive technologies is important, placing an obligation on government officials

“to provide accessible information to persons with disabilities about mobility aids, devices and assistive technologies, including new technologies, as well as other forms of assistance, support services and facilities” (Article 4 (1) (h))

Article 26, on “habilitation and rehabilitation,” also emphasizes the importance of the “availability, knowledge and use of assistive devices and technologies” as they relate to rehabilitation as a means to attain independence and autonomy through, among other things, access to education (Article 24) and employment (Article 27).


16Article 2 (1)
17Borg, J., Lindstrom, A., Larrson, S. “Assistive technology in developing countries: national and international responsibilities to implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities”, available at www.thelancetglobalhealthnetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/Disability-REV-3.pdf