Centre for Internet & Society

The Institute for Global and International Studies, Elliott School of Intenational Affairs at George Washington University, in cooperation with G3ict hosted this conference in Citiy View Room, Washington, D.C on 15 and 16 November 2010. Nirmita Narasimhan participated in this conference and spoke in the panel on Successful Treaty Implementation: Key Factors of Success and Obstacles.


Just four years ago the UN General Assembly adopted the text of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Designed to protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities, this was the first international human rights treaty that was negotiated, developed, and written with the active participation of representatives of persons it is designed to protect. The remarkable engagement in and momentum behind this treaty, an international human rights instrument of the United Nations, has led to rapid accession to the treaty. As of September 2010, 146 signatories (including the United States) and 90 ratifying parties to the Convention pledged their commitment effectively extending the benefits of the Convention to more than 75% of the global population.  

Despite the notably rapid adoption of the Convention, the global scale of the target population and the wide range of stakeholders, there is surprisingly little scholarship on the policy issues associated with the implementation of the Convention. The Institute for Global and International Studies (IGIS) at the George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs is entering into an ongoing research partnership with G3ict focusing on the global policy dimensions of ensuring accessibility of ICT and implementation of the Convention.

Shortly before the adoption of the Convention, the Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies (G3ict), a global grass-roots organization of subject matter experts covering the various technical and social dimensions of ICT accessibility, was made a flagship initiative of the UN Global Alliance for Information and Communication Technologies and Development (UN GAID). G3ict is a U.S.-based public-private partnership representing multiple stakeholders from all regions of the world and a variety of backgrounds. It works closely with ITU, UNESCO, UN DESA and the World Bank, among other multilateral institutions active in this policy space. G3ict collaborated over the course of 3.5 years to develop a global, multidisciplinary body of knowledge - expert practices and tools - on the wide range of issues relevant to accessible Information and Communication Technologies, including The Accessibility Imperative, G3ict-ITU Toolkit for Policymakers, and the G3ict Self-Assessment Framework.

Objectives of the Global Forum

In the context of this research program, the Institute for Global and International Studies at the Elliott School of International Affairs hosted, in cooperation with G3ict, a high-profile, high-impact Global Policy Forum on ICT Accessibility to build upon the work of G3ict and to convene a prominent interdisciplinary group of GWU and non-GWU scholars along with an array of global leaders from Government, Industry, and Civil Society to:

  1. review the unique set of processes which made it possible for the CRPD to enjoy one of the fastest rates of adoption among Human Rights treaties and how its digital accessibility dispositions are  now promoted by a grassroots multi-stakeholders cooperative work across the globe;
  2. identify specific areas of opportunities in supporting country-level policy making and international cooperative efforts in the field of digital accessibility policy making;
  3. raise awareness among the current Federal Administration officials and industry leaders of the potential leadership role that the United States can play in promoting digital accessibility rights around the world
    Proceedings of the workshop will be video recorded, edited and made available on both the IGIS and G3ict web sites and the presentations compiled to produce an update of G3ict’s initial compendium on ICT accessibility policy making, The Accessibility Imperative, with the GWU faculty delivering a “State of the Scholarship” report for publication as well as policy briefs for U.S. congressional leaders.

Program Committee

  • His Excellency Luis Gallegos, Ambassador of Ecuador to the United States; past Chair of the Ad Hoc Preparatory Committee of the United Nations General Assembly for the CRPD (G3ict Chairperson)
  • Daniel Aghion, Executive Director, W2i
  • Mohammed Al-Tarawneh, Inaugural Chairperson and  Vice-President 2010, UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
  • Francesca Cesa Bianchi, Director, External Relations, G3ict 
  • A.R. Forcke, Public Sector Market Manager, IBM Research - Human Ability & Accessibility Center
  • Larry Goldberg, Director of Media Access, WGBH (or Trisha O’Connell)
  • Akiko Ito, Chief, Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities/UN Focal Point on Disability, UN DESA
  • John D. Kemp, Esq., Partner, Powers Pyles Sutter & Verville PC; Executive Director and General Counsel U.S. Business Leadership Network (USBLN®); (G3ict Research Committee Chair)
  • Axel  Leblois, Executive Director, G3ict
  • Susan Mazrui, Director, Federal Regulatory Affairs, AT&T
  • Debra Ruh, CEO and Founder, TecAccess
  • Paul Schafer, Information Technology (IT) Specialist & Assistant Section 508 Coordinator, U.S.  Department of State
  • James Thurston, Senior Strategist, Global Policy and Standards, Microsoft
  • Dr. Susan Sell, Professor of Political Science and International Affairs; Director, Institute for Global and International Studies, Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University
    Representative of GWU School of Education


  • GWU faculty and non-GWU Academics
  • International D.C.-based delegations
  • World Bank representatives
  • Representatives from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU)
  • Representatives from UNESCO
  • International delegations of Disabled Persons Organizations
  • ICT Industry and ICT corporate and institutional users
  • State and local government broadband planners and policy makers
  • U.S. Federal government representatives
  • Non-Governmental Organizations
  • Elliott School Alumni who are significant actors in this policy space


  1. Download the agenda
  2. See the list of speakers
  3. Also see G3ict for full details
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