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Technology and accessibility in global governance and human rights: the experience of disability rights advocates

Filippo Trevisan (School of Communication, American University, Washington, DC, USA)
Derrick L. Cogburn (School of Communication, American University, Washington, DC, USA and School of International Service and Kogod School of Business, American University, Washington, DC, US)

Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society

ISSN: 1477-996X

Article publication date: 2 July 2020

Issue publication date: 4 August 2020




International organizations are working on an unprecedented number of development initiatives relevant to people with disabilities. This makes it essential for the global disability community to be able to participate effectively in the decision-making processes associated with these programs. In light of this, this study aims to explore whether information technologies can help create a more inclusive global governance, forming the basis for equitable development for people with disabilities.


The results of a global survey of disabled people’s organizations’ (DPOs) leaders are discussed. This asked disability rights advocates about their experiences with accessibility and barriers to effective participation, low-cost accessible technological solutions for remote participation and freely available “off-the-shelf” online technologies – in particular social media platforms – to bridge the gap between the disability community and global governance processes.


Although only a small number of international conferences offer accessible virtual participation through web conferencing and other tools, responses from DPO advocates suggest that there is a strong demand for this technology and provide evidence of its potential for improving accessibility in global governance. Furthermore, disability organizations all over the world have embraced social media platforms to liaise with their grassroots and enable them to part-take in policy-making processes.


This study highlights community-backed technological solutions to persisting barriers that systematically exclude people with disabilities from fundamental global governance processes, illuminating the nexus of disability, accessibility, and participation.



Please note that this is a revised and expanded version of a paper that appeared originally in the proceedings of the 52nd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS).

Funding: This study was supported by a grant from The Nippon Foundation.


Trevisan, F. and Cogburn, D.L. (2020), "Technology and accessibility in global governance and human rights: the experience of disability rights advocates", Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, Vol. 18 No. 3, pp. 377-391.



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