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UN chief urges harnessing technology to improve inclusion of people with disabilities

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United Nations, June 15 (Ajit Weekly News) UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said that technology can be harnessed to advance disability inclusion.

“Technology can promote equality of opportunity, break down barriers, and create disability-inclusive environments,” the UN chief said at the 15th session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) held at the UN headquarters in New York.

The top UN official pointed out that over 1 billion people globally require assistive technology – “yet in many countries those essential tools remain inaccessible to nearly everyone”, Xinhua news agency reported.

“Embracing the promise of technology means closing the digital divide; expanding accessibility and inclusivity; and better protection for people against its perils,” Guterres said.

In response to the conference’s emphasis on promoting economic empowerment and entrepreneurship to advance the participation of persons with disabilities in the labor market on an equal basis, the top UN official said that “this is more critical than ever given the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in all its dimensions on persons with disabilities – and the inequalities that persist in recovery.”

In his remarks about the importance of boosting participation of persons with disabilities in climate action, Guterres said that persons with disabilities are 2 to 4 times more likely to die during hurricanes, tsunamis and other natural disasters.

“At the same time, persons with disabilities are a unique resource of knowledge and experience to build more resilient societies,” he said.

“Across all three priorities, we need broader and deeper cooperation between governments, international organizations, civil society, and the private sector,” Guterres said.

The 15th session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which opened Tuesday and concludes on Thursday, focuses on the overarching theme of building disability-inclusive and participatory societies in the COVID context and beyond, with such sub-themes as innovation and technology advancing disability rights, and economic empowerment and entrepreneurship of persons with disabilities.

CRPD, adopted by the UN General Assembly on Dec. 13, 2006, came into force on May 3, 2008.

With 185 ratifications since its adoption in 2006, CRPD “has crystallized the commitment of the international community to realize an inclusive, accessible, and sustainable world for all,” according to the secretary-general.

–Ajit Weekly News

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