Bridging the Disability Divide through Digital Technologies

  • Citation: Raja, Deepti Samant. “Bridging the Disability Divide through Digital Technologies.” World Bank Development Report, 2016.
    • Topics:
    • Business and Trade
    • Keywords:
    • information and communication technology
    • persons with disabilities
    • development

The exclusion and marginalization of persons with disabilities is a human rights issue as well as an economic issue for countries. Digital technologies break traditional barriers to communication, interaction, and access to information for persons with disabilities. The confluence of increasing public and private service provision through Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and the growing number of mainstream, everyday ICTs that can be used as accessible devices is changing the paradigm of technology-enabled development for persons with disabilities. This paper provides an overview of the opportunities presented by the internet and ICT for the full participation of persons with disabilities. Accessible ICT can level the playing field for persons with disabilities across life domains including education, employment, e-governance and civic participation, financial inclusion, and disaster management. However, earlier divides may persist and new divides may be created when ICT-enabled development is not accessible to persons with disabilities, leading to an uneven distribution of benefits. This paper reviews the main challenges to the realization of ICT-enabled inclusive development and presents cost-beneficial policy and practice recommendations for governments and development practitioners.

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