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Themes: Assistive & Accessible Technology, Inclusive Design, Culture and Participation, Climate & Crisis Resilience, Inclusive Educational Technology

GDI Hub “commits to change” at the Global Disability Summit 2022

Colour photograph of Katherine Perry

Katherine Perry

Manager, Lead for Advocacy and Engagement

Global Disability Summit 2022 graphic. Bright green background with white and yellow text "Commit to Change"

Global Disability Innovation Hub (GDI Hub) has made commitments at the Global Disability Summit 2022. GDI Hub has made 5 commitments, which fall across their 5 thematic areas of work, as outlined in GDI Hub’s most recent strategy: accessible and assistive technology, cultural participation, EdTech, Climate Justice and Inclusive Design

On this exciting development, GDI Hub, CEO, Vicki Austin said

"We are pleased to be able to make commitments at the Global Disability Summit 2022. We know there is much more work to do, and we hope that others, particularly those outside of the disability sector, will make and implement commitments to ensure that no one is left behind"

Vicki Austin, GDI Hub CEO

Almost 1000 commitments were made by organisations around the world but a majority of these were made by NGOs or organisations already in the sector. It’s hoped that the numbers of commitments made at GDS2022 will be record breaking and will include participation from wider sectors in the disability movement.

GDI Hub’s Global Disability Summit Commitments

  • Overarching Commitment 7

Assistive technology: Support, develop and implement programmes on assistive technology

In GDI Hub’s most recent strategy, accessible and assistive technology were outlined as key themes.

This is because globally, almost 900 million people lack access to the technology they need, due to high costs and/or a lack of awareness, availability, personnel, and policy. Without assistive and accessible technology, disabled people are often excluded from employment and their communities; there is a pressing need for change if we are to meet our Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) commitments. Disability Interactions is our challenge- based approach to the creation of new emerging technology-driven solutions (e.g., artificial intelligence) to enhance the ability to earn livelihoods, and to participate in all aspects of society.

We therefore commit to continue raising awareness of the impact of AT, raising the lessons we’ve learnt from almost 6 years of experience in this space from research through to community engagement.

We commit to ensuring that the barriers to access are viewed through a lens of intersectionality (gender, age, geographical location, race etc).

We commit to working with partners to work towards constant disability innovation to strengthen infrastructure so that AT maybe used to its best functionality, and where possible, put Assistive Technology into the hands of people that need it.

  • Overarching Commitment 11:

Mobilise resources to ensure that public services are inclusive by actively working towards with the aim of removing physical, institutional, and attitudinal barriers.

GDI Hub has made inclusive infrastructure a strategic priority in its 2021-2024 Disability Innovation Strategy.

This is because inclusive design can help all human beings experience the world around them in a fair and equal way; putting people at the heart of the design process. Inclusive design considers the widest possible range of end users including; disabled people, older people and people from diverse backgrounds. It anticipates different needs and wants. It is not reactionary; it does not need to be. It is not an add-on or an overlay or a ‘special’ provision.

It is integrated and often invisible, good design. The methodology, approach

and processes we created and used successfully to deliver inclusive infrastructure developments in east London we now share through teaching and our work on development projects around the world.

GDI Hub’s work on assistive and accessible technology is ambitious but the full benefit of access to AT will not be reached if the built environment is not accessible.

  • Inclusive Education:

Promote social inclusion at community level

Cultural participation is one of our five themes of GDI Hubs work.

As an organisation born out of the London 2012 Paralympic Legacy, participation of disabled is crucial to a complete society.

GDI Hub believes that disabled people have a unique value, a unique contribution to our culture. Disability centred events can have extraordinary effects on the way a country operates on levels of stigma and on wellbeing of populations.

Cultural events should be created with disability in mind because the voices of disabled people should be heard, listened to and actioned upon. Local DPOs, are a crucial part of that story and GDI Hub strives to continue to increase dialogue, amplify disabled voices and listen to those affected.

It’s for all these reasons that GDI Hub has made cultural participation a significant part of future work and on-going strategy.

  • Inclusive Education:

Strengthen targeted support for learners with disabilities

GDI Hub has made inclusive educational technology a strategic priority as outlined in GDI Hub’s most recent strategy.

Accessible technology is now increasingly low cost and mainstream, and digital access is a human right. With the need revealed by COVID, now is the time to really focus on Educational Technology (Ed Tech) for disability inclusion. GDI Hub is committed to ensuring access to education is realised by every child and adult.

  • Social Protection:

Include persons with disabilities in climate action

GDI Hub has made inclusive climate and crisis resilience a strategic priority in its 2021-2024 strategy.

In times of humanitarian disaster, we know that instances of disability go up due to injury, the need for assistive technology greater. As the climate warms, we expect that instances of natural disaster will also increase, and if vaccine inequity continues, COVID-19 will also create strains on already fragile health systems. In all these cases, disabled children and adults are disproportionately disadvantaged.

The world has also been forced to take notice of the environmental impact of inadequate product life cycles - which is a burden AT users know very well. Locally based, quality production approaches are being built now, and we think this is a real opportunity.

The full text of the commitments alongside the information on how GDI Hub will implement the ones pledged will be published by the Global Disability Summit in the next days.

For more information, please reach out directly to Lead for Advocacy and Engagement Katherine.perry@ucl.ac.uk