Conference sneak preview

How to enable universal access to information

Unesco Sessions 5

On the occasion of the International Day of Universal Access to Information (IDUAI), UNESCO will host one plenary and three panel sessions at eLearning Africa, each devoted to exploring aspects of the campaign to create universal access to information and knowledge.

The development of the World Wide Web has opened up new horizons of opportunity for humanity, not the least in the fields of education and training. The Web has become the primary means of extending the reach of educational opportunity across the globe, opening up an array of new opportunities for hundreds of millions of people. However, it has also encouraged the growth of several significant threats to both individuals and society.

UNESCO’s sessions will consider how universal access to information and knowledge can be achieved, and how the effects of the Web’s dark side can be mitigated.

The International Day of Universal Access to Information (IDUAI) will kick off with a Plenary Opening Session, in which UNESCO’s Director of the Knowledge Societies Division, Indrajit Banerjee, will lead a discussion on ‘Universal Access to Information’ and why it is vital for societies to develop and thrive. Panellists will include Ann Therese Ndong Jatta, the Director of UNESCO Regional office for Eastern Africa, H.E. Mr. Günter Nooke, German Chancellor’s Personal Representative for Africa in the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Vincent Wen, CEO Talkmate, Kenneth Kam Boon Hee of the Kenn Foundation, and H.E. Barlen Vyapoory, the Vice-President of the Republic of Mauritius.

The first panel discussion, entitled “Universal Access to Information and Knowledge,” will be moderated by Parsuramen Armoogum of the Global Rainbow Foundation and participants will debate about Open Access from a policy-making perspective. Panellists Chafica Haddad of the Information for All Programme, Natasa Milic-Frayling of UNESCO’s Persist Project, Edrine Wanyamai of CIPESA in Uganda, Robert di Cosmo of INRIA, Gilbert Sendugwa from African Platform of Access to Information (APAI) and Indrajit Banerjee, from UNESCO, will discuss the prerequisites for access to information. They will consider the concept of rights to the internet, the various regulatory issues, surrounding universal access to information, as well as infrastructural challenges that have to be overcome.

In the second panel session on ‘International Cooperation on InfoEthics,’ which will be moderated by Boyan Rodakov of UNESCO, the discussion will focus on ethical considerations of the use of cyberspace and the promotion of human rights online. Issues such as cyber ethics and abuses of universal access, including violent extremism and fake news, will be considered by speakers like Ben Cotzee Bester, Vice Chancellor and Principal of the African Center for Information Ethics (ANIE), Preetam Maloor of the ITU Cybersecurity Team, the French lawyer Dan Shefet and Gabriella Razzano of the African Platform for Access to Information (APAI).

The final panel, entitled “International Cooperation on Education and Digital Inclusion to ‘Leave No One Behind,’” will address issues such as the role of Information and Communication Technologies in improving the life of people with disabilities and the role of ICTs in empowering women and girls in achieving SDG 5. Moderated by Ann Therese Ndong Jatta, Director of UNESCO Regional office for Eastern Africa, panellists will include Joe Hironaka from UNESCO Knowledge Societies Division, Jaco du Toit, the Regional Advisor for Communication and Information at UNESCO’s Regional Office for eastern Africa, Fredrick Kitoogo, National Information Technology Authority – Uganda (NITAU), Daniel Burgos, UNESCO’s Chair on eLearning and the ICDE’s Chair in Open Educational Resources, Claire Gillissen-Duval, the Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at EMEA, SAP, and more.

Join us for these fascinating discussions about issues of fundamental importance.


    How to enable universal access to information

    Inclusion to universal access of content and information for PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES ( PWD) should be stated in this type of open forum. If access is truly the goal, then starting with announcements, everyone— sighted and not, physically challenged and not, learning challenged and not —- in other words ALL PEOPLE INCLUSIVELY should be included from this discussion.

    Is there a person with disability (PWD) on this panel who knows first hand what it means to be included ( or excluded) . Is there anyone that can debate from a first hand position from the Silicon Valley with knowledge of the topic Access to Information and Knowledge?

    I personally know of no one on this committee/panel who can speak from the reality of being a person with disability. Maybe I am wrong, but I raise the question?

    At this conference the Silicon Valley Approach may be in criticism and debate, but I am sensitive to the fact that the NGO I represent is a world leader with knowledge on the topic of UNIVERSAL ACCESS in a BORN ACCESSIBLE AGE. This knowledge is valuable across borders and needs to be transferred to your participants.

    Its unfortunate we, or some of our African Associates were not invited to sit on these debate forums to include the ‘hands on’ perspective on
    1) delivering accessible digital books — Bookshare and
    2) human rights safety and security in human rights — Martus.

    We could present a world view, a Silicon Valley viewpoint, an African, Asia, Middle Easter and beyond viewpoint. Our users, member, stakeholder alliances across the globe in more than 70 countries.

    The topic of Silicon Valley at this conference might be debated—
    But it should be a thread presented and debated by both sides fairly.
    Thus the conference organizers might have been better planned to include not exclude those of us from Silicon Valley that work for humanity directly in this field, because we remain the knowledge bank , especially on topics of Disability, Access and Inclusion.

    Teresa Jenna, MPH, MA, Fellow, Dip, EMT
    Adult with Disabilities
    International Lead,
    Technology for Humanity

    • ICWE Social Media Team

      Dear Teresa,

      In response to your comments and questions:

      1) universal access means access to all

      2) Yes, we do have both panellists as well as delegates who will speak from the floor who have disabilities

      3) We invite people from all over the world and including Silicon Valley to join the discussion and the debate and we have representatives attending

      4) although on this occasion, you have not personally been invited to be a panel speaker, but we have sent call for pares as well as invitations to you and your colleagues and there will be an opportunity for you to speak in the debate from the floor and we will mention your name to the Chairman. Perhaps you would like to be considered for other debates in the future.

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