Assistive Technology ‘Not Only a Right, but a Practical Pathway to Inclusion’, Deputy Secretary-General Tells Global Disability Summit
(Delayed for technical reasons)
Following is the text of UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s video message to the Second Global Disability Summit, 14 January:
Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to thank Atscale — the Global Partnership for Assistive Technology — and its partners for inviting me to address you today.
Realizing the rights of persons with disabilities and our collective commitment to leaving no one behind are imperative.
Across our work, the United Nations system strives to embody this commitment and bring about lasting and transformative change for persons with disabilities. For example, we launched the United Nations Disability Inclusion Strategy in 2019. Over the last two years, the Strategy has triggered bold action across our programmes and internal operations — not only at Headquarters, but in the field.
At the same time, we know that we need to do much more — and much better — on disability inclusion. Harnessing the power of technology and innovation can help us do this. For example, assistive technology can help drive equal participation, equitable outcomes and empowerment for persons with disabilities.
Quite simply — this technology has great potential to transform lives and move us closer to our shared goal of a more inclusive and accessible world for all. But only if we accelerate access for all people who need it.
Next year, WHO [World Health Organization] and UNICEF [United Nations Children’s Fund] will publish the first Global Report on Assistive Technology, which will give us new data. But until then, we estimate that, while over 1 billion people require assistive technology, 90 per cent do not have access.
This is a huge gap with huge consequences. To put it in practical terms — a building without a ramp is inaccessible. But a ramp alone is insufficient for a person who lacks a wheelchair.
Truly full inclusion means that persons with disabilities can access all of the tools required to realize their rights and perform their functions.
So, access to assistive technology is not only a right — as enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It is also a practical pathway to inclusion.
Making progress along this pathway requires action and investment, to ensure access to this technology for the 90 per cent in need around the world who are being left behind. We need to close this gap — urgently.
At the upcoming Second Global Development Summit, let’s join forces — and together, raise our voices — to call for assistive technology for all.