An Accessibility Infrastructure for the Global South

Abstract

We propose an “accessibility infrastructure” view to understanding accessibility in real-world settings for people with visual impairments in the Global South. We study six cities —Blantyre, Freetown, Kigali, Mumbai, San Jose, and Seoul — all major cities from signatory nations of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Using mixed methods including a survey of 219 respondents and 59 in-depth interviews, we examine the gap between the policy promise of technological accessibility and existing social and economic infrastructure. We examine the idea of accessibility infrastructure and specifically focus on its social components through two factors — stigma related to disability, and the community around technology users — both of which emerge as important factors in enabling or excluding AT use. We propose that efforts around accessibility, particularly in the post-CRPD global awareness need to closely examine the reasons behind the gaps between the technological capabilities, and the real world possibilities for people with visual impairments where a social infrastructure provides a major barrier to meaningful accessibility.

Publication
Proceedings of the Eighth International Conference on Information and Communication Technologies and Development - ICTD ‘16