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Implementation of the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons : report of the Secretary-General

UN Document Symbol A/54/388/Add.1
Convention Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Document Type Report of the Secretary-General
Session 54th
Type Document

29 p., tables

Subjects Persons with Disabilities, Equal Opportunity

Extracted Text

United Nations A/54/388/Add.1
General Assembly Distr.: General
30 September 1999
Original: English
Fifty-fourth session
Agenda item 106
Social development, including questions relating to the world social
situation and to youth, ageing, disabled persons and the family
Implementation of the world programme of action concerning
disabled persons
Report of the Secretary-General
Paragraphs Page
I. Analytical review of progress in equalization of opportunities by, for and with
persons with disabilities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1–44 2
A. Accessibility . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8–36 3
B. Social security and social safety nets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37–39 10
C. Employment and sustainable livelihoods . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40–44 11
II. United Nations Voluntary Fund on Disability . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45–76 13
A. Project cycle activities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45–51 13
B. Contributions to the voluntary fund . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52–53 15
C. Selected project experiences . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54–61 16
D. Cooperation with the Arab Gulf Programme for United Nations Development
Organizations (AGFUND) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62–68 18
E. Disability-sensitive development cooperation in the twenty-first century:
partnerships and venture grants . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69–76 19
I. United Nations Voluntary Fund on Disability: projects supported . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
II. Projects co-financed in cooperation with the Arab Gulf Programme for United Nations
Development Organizations (AGFUND) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
99-28422 (E) 131099
I. Analytical review of progress in equalization of opportunities
by, for and with persons with disabilities
1. General Assembly resolution 52/82 of 12 December 1997 identifies three priorities
for action to equalize opportunities for persons with disabilities: accessibility; social services
and safety nets; and employment and sustainable livelihoods. The present section discusses
strategies to implement Assembly resolution 52/82, progress achieved and implications of
those results, elaborating on material included under the interim report of the Secretary-
General (E/CN.5/1999/5) to the thirty-seventh session of the Commission for Social
Development on the implementation of theWorld Programme of Action concerning Disabled
2. Determination of a strategy for efficient and effective implementation of General
Assembly resolution 52/82 required, first, identification of a value proposition that would
best respond to the interests and needs of the specialized constituencies related thereto:
Governments, organizations of persons with disabilities and civil society. Since disability
can affect anyone at any stage of the life cycle, the value proposition identified was analysis2 ,
promotion and assistance on request in developing “best total solutions”3 for disability action
by, for and with persons with disabilities.
3. The implementation strategy thus had a constituency focus and participatory orientation.
4. A second strategic consideration was identification of institutional arrangements
appropriate to the ambitious agenda set forth in General Assembly resolution 52/82 which
would promote greater exchanges among interested communities — governmental and nongovernmental
communities, civil society and the private sector. This led to adoption of new
organizational models, based on information flows and communications networks rather than
discrete structures, spans of control and physical locations. A communications-based strategy
was premised on open standards and the considerable power of connectivity4 which would
not only facilitate active exchanges among interested communities but also encourage
participants in these exchanges to think about adding value to the content communicated.5
5. Open standards facilitated ease of entry into the exchanges of knowledge and
experiences, which contributed to increasing returns from feedback and contributed content.6
6. Three operational modes were employed in implementing General Assembly resolution
(a) Alliances to exchange knowledge and experience on priority topics and common
objectives in the disability field and to contribute thereby to the global body of knowledge;
(b) Joint production of priority knowledge and information goods and services;
(c) Co-sourcing of inputs, substantive and managerial knowledge and skills and goods
and services to meet flexibly and efficiently the needs and interests of the specialized
constituencies for disability policies and programmes.
7. Application of each of these modes is considered in the following discussion of progress
in implementing the priorities for action identified in General Assembly resolution 52/82.
A. Accessibility
8. Rule 5 of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with
Disabilities (General Assembly resolution 48/96 of 20 December 1993, annex) considers
“accessibility” with reference both to the physical environment and to information and
communications services. Although the Standard Rules were drafted before the recent and
significant expansion in information technologies and communications networks in countries,
rule 5 provides useful guidance for policy design and advocacy. Notable progress was realized
in both areas by the United Nations in cooperation with Governments, the academic and nongovernmental
community, and the private sector.
1. Environmental accessibility
9. As discussed in the third quinquennial review and appraisal of the implementation of
the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons (A/52/351), environmental
accessibility involves more than planning and design of barrier-free physical environments.
Accessibility concerns include planning and introduction of measures to promote social
integration and full and effective participation by all on the basis of equality.
10. Environmental accessibility affects all. Its emergence as a major concern reflects the
shift in emphasis frommedical models of disability, and an emphasis on care, protection and
assisting persons with disabilities in adapting to “normal” social structures, to social models
with their focus on empowerment, participation and modifications of environments to promote
equalization of opportunities for all.7
11. The Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) has been
cooperating intensively with the Government of Lebanon in the planning and design of a
“barrier-free” Beirut Central District. The initiative is part of the follow-up to the 1989
Conference on the Capabilities and Needs of Disabled Persons in the ESCWA Region whose
recommendations included the issue of accessible urban planning and the development of
physical infrastructure, transportation and related services. Beginning in 1994, ESCWA was
requested by the Government of Lebanon to advise and assist in the formulation of policy
options and technical design standards to promote accessibility for persons with disabilities.
An immediate task for ESCWA was assessment of national-level needs and identification of
priorities for action. Planning and design of a barrier-free Beirut Central District was
identified as a first task, whose lessons of implementation of accessibility norms and standards
could be applied elsewhere in Lebanon as well as by other interested countries. Planning and
development of the Beirut Central District was carried out in cooperation with the Ministry
of Social Affairs of Lebanon, the National Council for Disabled Persons and SOLIDERE,
the Lebanese Company for Development and Reconstruction of the Beirut Central District.
In late 1998, SOLIDERE and ESCWA prepared and published a manual describing the
technical planning, design and implementation of a barrier-free Beirut Central District,
entitled Accessibility for the Disabled: A Design Manual for a Barrier-Free Environment
(Beirut, 1998). The Manual discusses a two-track approach to promoting and implementing
non-handicapping environments comprising: (a) measures to influence planning, design and
reconstruction of a barrier-free Beirut Central District and (b) documentation of accessibility
concepts and standards, and suggested instruments for application to effect wider geographical
coverage and social impact throughout Lebanon.
12. The lessons of the experience in drafting and applying the Manual have important
implications for planning and development of non-handicapping environments in countries.
The Social Development Issues and Policies Division of ESCWA, in cooperation with the
Division for Social Policy and Development of the United Nations Secretariat, will organize
at Beirut, from 29 November to 3 December 1999, a workshop and seminar on environmental
accessibility: issues in planning and design of accessible urban development.
13. The “Agenda for Action” for the Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons 8 (1993-
2002) recommends measures to improve the accessibility of public facilities to persons with
disabilities. The Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) has
undertaken, with financial and technical support provided by the Government of Japan, and
by the Ministry of Construction in particular, a regional project on “promotion of nonhandicapping
environments for disabled and elderly persons”. ESCAP has published
Guidelines (ST/ESCAP/1492) and Case Studies (ST/ESCAP/1510) of selected national
experience in promoting non-handicapping physical environments. In mid-1998, ESCA9 P
organized workshops, at Beijing and at New Delhi, to consider the results of the project and
formulate recommendations for further action to promote non-handicapping environments
in towns and cities of the region. Recommendations adopted at the Beijing workshop focus
on policy options, promoting public awareness, building national capacities and networking
for environmental accessibility.10 Guidelines for training of persons with disabilities as trainers
in community-based initiatives to promote environmental accessibility have recently been
field-tested in Bangalore (India), Pattaya (Thailand) and Penang (Malaysia).
2. Accessible information goods and services
14. The rapid pace of development in information and communications technologies has
significant social and economic implications for countries, including persons with disabilities.
Information goods and services are now recognized as central components of the new
economics of development,11 catalysts for change and key factors in re-engineering.
Information can:
(a) Serve as a driver for re-engineering. Information technologies and structures
introduce the need to reconsider organizational processes and work flow so that these can
make the most effective use of new and emerging information and communications capacities;
(b) Serve as an enabler of re-engineering. Information technologies introduce a need
to rethink the organizational mission, goals and immediate objectives, the specialized
constituencies of the organization and the means by which they can articulate their interests
and needs, and the means by which these can be effectively and efficiently addressed;
(c) Provide the contextual basis for re-engineering. New information technologies
and structures introduce a need to review the current social, political and economic setting
of the organization and assess the extent to which organizational arrangements, culture and
values are appropriate to that setting. New information and communication technologies also
introduce a need to review and assess organizational resources, both technical and financial,
for acquiring, implementing and using effectively the newly expanded information and
communications capacities.12
15. The rapid expansion of information goods and services in countries and the empowering
and enabling potential that they offer beg the question of information accessibility for all.
Inaccessible information goods and services effectively exclude significant portions of the
population in countries from full and effective participation in social life and development.
Accessibility is not the concern solely of persons with sensorial or mobility disabilities or
older persons. Accessibility refers to provision of “flexibility to accommodate each user’s
needs and preferences”.13 Some may need assistive technologies — screen magnifiers, screen
readers or Braille interfaces — to access and use mainstream information goods owing to a
physical or sensorial disability. Others may need text-based or limited graphical content in
their information goods since they may not have sufficient communications capacity
(bandwidth) or level of information technology to support robust graphical content, streaming
audio or video clips.14
16. In a recent technical paper, the Government of Canada makes a clear and concise case
for universal access to information goods and services:
“Since the end user cannot count on either standard technology or helping devices
to ensure access to information on the (Internet World Wide) Web, the onus is on the
Web page developer to deliver the message in a way that allows everyone to benefit.
“It is every Canadian’s right to receive Government information or service in a
form that can be used, and it is Government of Canada’s obligation to provide it.”15
(a) Pilot action for Internet accessibility at the United Nations
17. In his interim report on implementation of the World Programme of Action concerning
Disabled Persons (E/CN.5/1999/5), the Secretary-General described pilot efforts by the
Division for Social Policy and Development to design and develop an accessible Internet
presence on theWorldWideWeb for selected social development information goods entitled
“Gateway to social policy and development” (paras. 5-8). Two aspects of Internet accessibility
were addressed by the Gateway initiative: (a) user-friendlyWeb design based on universal
principles to facilitate access by users with physical or sensorial disabilities and (b) text-based
and low-intensity graphical content to facilitate access by users with low levels of information
technology or communications capacities (bandwidth).
18. The present section will, first, review briefly the strategic plan for the Gateway initiative,
and then discuss ways in which this initiative in Internet accessibility has been generalized
for use by other interested bodies and organizations — governmental, academic, nongovernmental.
19. Strategic planning was an essential component of Internet accessibility efforts since
these involved fundamental changes in approach to production and presentation of information
goods by the Organization. Moreover, the Gateway initiative had a short time-frame for
design, testing and implementation of the release candidate version. Approval to proceed with
the Gateway initiative was obtained in February 1998 and a fully functional Internet site was
required by early May to support the organizational session of the Preparatory Committee
for the Special Session of the General Assembly on the Implementation of the Outcome of
the World Summit for Social Development and Further Initiatives (New York, 19-22 May
20. The strategic plan had five main points, which are summarized below:
(a) Vision: formulation of a shared vision for the Internet accessibility initiative was
important for building awareness and a general consensus for first principles and for changes
envisaged concerning the ways in which social development information goods would be
presented through Internet technologies. The vision identified entailed provision of timely
and relevant accessible social development information goods for all; and the title of the site
was identified as “Gateway for social policy and development”;
(b) Scope and priorities: the time-frame for design, testing and implementation of
a functional Internet site that would meet generally accepted international standards —
February toMay 1998—was tight. The scope of the Gateway initiative was, first, provision
of accessible information goods for persons with disabilities. The second concern was design
of accessible Internet-based services to support two priority observances in the social
development field: the 1999 International Year of Older Persons, and preparations for the
special session of the General Assembly to consider the outcome of the World Summit for
Social Development. The initiative focused on Internet accessibility for all, with reference
to specific priorities of the global social development programme of the United Nations;
(c) Feasibility and strategic components: the time-frame for the Gateway initiative
required selection, testing and rapid application of best-available accessibility concepts and
design tools rather than extensive comparative studies of emerging practices and technologies.
An important contribution to the initiative was the provision by the Microsoft Corporation
in early 1998 of a compact disk read-only memory (CD-ROM) compilation of Internet
accessibility design concepts and tools. A great deal of relevant material was also identifie16 d
on the Internet.17 Chief among the sites consulted were the World Wide Web Consortium and
its “Web Content Accessibility Guidelines”,18 and the Center for Applied Special Technology
and its on-line Web accessibility evaluation tool, “Bobby” (http://www.cast.org). Since the
Gateway initiative for Internet accessibility was being implemented within the framework
of the Internet site of the United Nations (http://www.un.org), strategic components of the
Gatewaywere designed to fit within the basic Internet architecture of the United Nations site
consistent with universalWeb design standards and relevant accessibility guidelines. Excellent
cooperation was obtained at departmental level of the United Nations Secretariat. Critiques
of Gateway designs and structures came from a diverse set of beta testers, representing all
specialized programme constituencies: governmental, non-governmental and civil society;
(d) Implementation plan: the Internet accessibility initiative was outsourced to an
international consultant team with considerable expertise in communications planning,
Internet design, systems integration and training. The international consultant team prepared
a prototype Web design within two weeks of joining the project and made effective and
strategic use of communications technologies to meet the schedule of deliverables set by the
Division for Social Policy and Development. The decision to outsource was taken since the
Gateway would be the first Internet presence in the United Nations system planned and
designed in accordance with generally acceptable standards for accessible Web design;19
(e) Monitoring and evaluation: the Internet accessibility pilot project had a tight
schedule for design and implementation and was carried out by an international consultant
team. A critical task was joint determination of critical milestones for conceptual designs,
for delivery of content by the concerned substantive specialists, for coordination with the
concerned technical services and for systematic feedback on design options from beta testers
representative of the specialized constituencies for the global social development programme
of the United Nations. For instance, a proposed design for the International Year of Older
PersonsWeb site was positively critiqued by a concerned governmental representative, albeit
with a reminder of the need for accessible language support. Critiques from persons with
disabilities served to make the Persons with DisabilitiesWeb site easy and efficient to navigate
with text browsers. Design options were evaluated continually using on-line tools to assess
compatibility with various Internet browsers, communications capacities and universal design
principles.20 TheMay delivery of the release candidate of an operational “Gateway for social
policy and development” was accompanied by an intensive user orientation and training
session to promote awareness of sustainableWeb accessibility in the social development field.
21. The Gateway initiative began with a concern to provide an expanded range of
information goods to the specialized constituencies of the global social development
programme of the United Nations Secretariat in a timely and efficient manner and in fully
accessible formats. The Gateway became operational ahead of schedule and within budget.
Its content has been updated periodically and now includes extensive Internet-based resources
related to youth policies and programmes. Lessons of the pilot effort in design and
implementation of accessible Internet-based services are summarized below:
(a) Define clearly the need for action, interested constituencies and stakeholders;
identify relevant policy frameworks; and formulate a concise and unambiguous vision
statement which can be operationalized and assessed periodically;
(b) Identify priorities for action that correspond to policy imperatives and
organizational goals and objectives; formulate outcomes that are consistent with available
technologies, resources and time-frames, and are attainable and sustainable in terms of
maintenance and updates;
(c) Do not proceed alone with any initiative: identify both sponsors, which should
include concerned government bodies, non-governmental organizations and civil society, and
alliance partners who will contribute ideas and knowledge to the analysis, planning and
development of prototypes, testing and evaluation;21
(d) Do not develop content alone: open approaches promote dialogue and
opportunities for unplanned exchanges; open approaches also promote social integration and
social cohesion as well as opportunities to engage non-traditional constituencies for ideas
and input;
(e) Aim to recover costs associated with an initiative to ensure sustainability; cost
recovery in this sense refers to financial resources as well as contributions to agreed policy
objectives and programme targets;
(f) Communicate regularlywith all constituencies and document each result — and
problems encountered—throughout the pilot process; and do not proceed too far in advance
of the relevant policy processes in terms of content or scope.
(b) Outreach and capacity-building for Internet accessibility
22. A major task in building awareness and support for Internet accessibility is to convey
the message that the relevant technologies are available, open-source and neutral. It is the
policy context and institutional arrangements that influence the extent to which information
goods and communication services are accessible to all. The relative levels of social and
economic development, the relevant social institutions and “social software” of developmen22 t
will also affect the extent to which accessible information goods are actually used by all.23
23. The strategy of the Division for Social Policy and Development to promote awareness
and support for accessible information goods and services has been based on two activities:
(a) Documenting and disseminating the lessons of the Gateway initiative, particularly
its relationship to empowering persons with disabilities for full participation in social life
and development;
(b) Building capacities for Internet accessibility, initially as pilot efforts in the United
Nations Secretariat, and then leveraging the experiences gained in building capacities among
interested communities.
24. The documentation on the Gateway project has been published on the Internet
(http://www.visionoffice.com/spd) together with relevant technical
background documentation, in particular a “primer” on Internet accessibility
(http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/disacc00.htm). A complement to the Gateway project
documentation is the recently established Forum on Internet Accessibility
(http://www.worldenable.net/iadiscuss) which aims to promote exchanges of knowledge and
experiences on Internet accessibility as both policy objective and technical standard.
25. A related initiative to consider the social aspects of information policies and structures
was the “Regional Workshop on Social Development Information through the Internet”
(Bangkok, 9-12 November 1998)24 organized by the Social Development Division of ESCAP.
26. Efforts in capacity-building for Internet accessibility have focused on international
policy frameworks, structures and technologies and their implications for Internet accessibility
in countries. One lesson emerging from these exchanges is that no one body or institution
“owns” the Internet.25 Governments have established national regulatory bodies; the World
International Property Organization (WIPO) recently published a report on the Internet
Domain Name process; and the non-profit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names 26 and
Numbers (http://www.icann.org) has begun a process of assuming responsibility for Internet
Protocol (IP) address space allocation, domain name system management and root server
management functions now performed by the Internet Assigned Names Authority and other
entities. However, many transborder technical issues are the province of professional bodies
that formulate, submit for comments and recommend technical standards, such as the Internet
Engineering Task Force (IETF) (http://www.ietf.cnri.reston.va.us/home.html). IETF is an
open-ended community of specialists concerned with Internet architecture.
27. The Internet remains a set of international communications networks based on open
standards that define low-level communications protocols, distribution protocols, document
content standards and image formats. International norms and standards can provide guidance
on policy options and technical guidance on accessible information goods for all, but there
are to date no intergovernmental mechanisms that promote or oversee Internet accessibility
28. Pilot action in capacity-building began on an experimental basis in early 1998 and
focused initially on United Nations Secretariat staff. Feedback on the results of these efforts
fromrepresentatives ofGovernments and the disability community led to the decision to use
open approaches for training in information policies, structures and technologies and Internet
accessibility.What began as a staff training workshop on Internet accessibility, in December
1998, with on-line practical exercises and substantive dialogue from March to May 1999,
resulted in the “Seminar on Accessibility for All” held at the United Nations on 6 May 1999.27
FelipeMabilangan, Ambassador (Republic of the Philippines), chaired the Seminar, which
was attended by representatives of permanent missions to the United Nations, United Nations
Secretariat staff and members of the non-governmental community.
(c) Selected initiatives of Governments and the non-governmental community to
promote Internet accessibility for all
29. A principal initiative of Governments during the period under review was the “Seminar
on Internet Accessibility and Persons with Disabilities” convened by the secretariat of the
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), in cooperation with the National Institute
of Development Administration (NIDA) of Thailand, at Bangkok, from 12 to 16 July 1999.
30. The Seminar had its origin as a proposal of the delegation of the Philippines, joined
by the delegation of Indonesia, presented at the thirty-seventh session of the Commission for
Social Development (New York, 9-19 February 1999) requesting the assistance of the United
Nations in organizing a subregional technical exchange on Internet accessibility and its role
in promoting equalization of opportunities of persons with disabilities.
31. The Seminar provided a forum for representatives of ASEAN member States within
which to review and discuss (a) issues in information policies, structures and technologies,
(b) implications of information technology issues and trends for Internet accessibility and
persons with disabilities among ASEAN and (c) options for national capacity-building and
localization of skills for Internet accessibility. The Seminar represented an ASEAN-wide
response to General Assembly resolution 52/82 and contribution to the development
objectives of the Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons (1993-2002). From the
ASEAN perspective, the Seminar responded to the “ASEAN Vision 2020”, particularly its
goal on the realization of a competent and caring society. Policy options and strategies that
aimat ensuring the quality of life for all must also ensure that people are able to participate
on the basis of equality and thrive in the information age. The Seminar thus provided a forum
in which relevant stakeholders could be brought together to identify and assess strategies and
measures to acquire and master information technologies at minimum risk and with maximum
benefit to society as a whole. The Seminar took place at the time that ASEAN was studying
the concept of an ASEAN Information Infrastructure (AII) and examining technological, legal,
regulatory and related issues that needed to be addressed to ensure its success. AII is one of
the key activities listed in the Hanoi Plan of Action which was adopted by the Sixth ASEAN
Summit, held in December 1998 at Hanoi. The mandate for regional information technology
development emanates from the heads of State and Government and thus enjoys support at
the highest levels of leadership in ASEAN.
32. An international presentation team assisted the ASEAN secretariat and NIDA in
organizing and conducting the Seminar and established a special-purpose Internet presence
to deliver substantive materials and support Seminar proceedings
(http://www.worldenable.net/iaasean/Default.htm). There were three parts to the
presentations: (a) introduction to the Internet: policies, structures and technologies;
(b) overview of Internet-based services: electronic mail, file-sharing, and Web-enabled
applications and their implications for accessibility; and (c) issues in analysis, planning and
development of accessible Internet-based goods and services.
33. The Seminar included a presentation on assistive technologies and persons with
disabilities by the Director of the Information Centre, Japanese Society for Rehabilitation
of Persons with Disabilities (http://www.jsrd.or.jp), in particular the work-in-progress by
the “DAISY Consortium for Talking Books” (http://www.daisy.org). DAISY — the Digital
Audio-based Information System—is being developed as the next-generation digital talking
book open standard by an international consortium of major talking book producers and
suppliers around the world. DAISY provides print-disabled consumers with opportunities
for information access, such as handling of table of contents, pages and indexes, equal to those
of their sighted peers. Since it is an open standard, DAISY allows versatile methods of
distribution of talking books including via CD-ROM and by means of the Internet. DAISY
standards will allow talking books to be preserved virtually forever. DAISY is based on
relevant standards adopted by theWorld Wide Web Consortium (http://www.w3.org), so the
DAISY standard is obtaining industry support, which will contribute to reliability and wide
availability throughout the world at reasonable cost. Moreover, DAISY playback systems
aim to retain backward compatibility for older specifications, so the DAISY Consortium can
regularly update DAISY specifications to meet current users’ needs and accommodate rapid
change in technical infrastructure. Since DAISY supports synchronized text, audio and
graphical images, DAISY-compliant multimedia materials are expected to represent a “best
practice” in the application of universal design principles to information dissemination that
is accessible for all.
34. Distance collaboration technologies were used to deliver a presentation and support
a dialogue at the Seminar on universal design concepts and principles by the Founding
Director of the Center for Adaptive Environments, a non-governmental organization
35. Group work involved small-group discussions and practical application of concepts and
approaches to analysis, planning and productive use of Internet technologies to promote
information accessible to all. The work of the groups is summarized at the “Internet
A c c e s s i b i l i t y ; ASEAN Pe r s p e c t ive ” Int e r ne t s i t e
(http://www.worldenable.net/iaaseanexercises.htm) and included presentations on distance
collaboration, planning and producing accessible information content, and concepts and
methods of producing and maintaining accessible Web pages. The final group activity was
drafting a “strategic frameworks” to promote Internet accessibility by, for and with persons
with disabilities among ASEAN.
36. Professional and academic exchanges among countries are based upon the open
approaches employed in the design, development and documentation of the Gateway initiative.
For instance, the Disability Information Resources Foundation (http://www.dinf.org), an
international technical body, invited the Division for Social Policy and Development to make
a presentation on the Gateway initiative to its Review Board on 19 March 1999, which took
place in connection with the forthcoming “Fourteenth International Conference on Technology
and Persons with Disabilities” (Los Angeles, 15-20 March 2000).
B. Social security and social safety nets
37. Universal and equitable access to basic social services for all is one of priority goals
to which Governments committed themselves in the Copenhagen Declaration on Social
Development, adopted at theWorld Summit for Social Development (Copenhagen, 28 1995). 28
The matter of social services planning and evaluation from the disability perspective — rather
than as a social group-centric issue — was considered at an expert Workshop on Ensuring
Access to Social Services of Under-Served Populations (Bangkok, 2-6 November 1998).29
TheWorkshop was organized by the United Nations as follow-up to the World Summit for
Social Development in cooperation with the National Institute of Development Administration
of Thailand. The Workshop considered the concept of under-served populations in both
qualitative and quantitative terms that pertained to all members of society. Recommendations
submitted focused on improvements in planning and design of basic social services for all,
on means to strengthen involvement by civil society, on improvements in the flow of
accessible information, and on measures to promote social inclusion, full participation and
accountability. The results of theWorkshop are reflected in the agreed conclusions on social
services for all adopted by the Commission for Social Development at its thirty-seventh
session.30 Among other points, the Commission agreed that universal access by all to social
services is a central goal for social and economic development policies (para. 4); and that
systems for provision of social services must not exclude or discriminate against persons with
disabilities. Delivery of social services to people with disabilities should ensure their
functional independence for active participation (para. 18).
38. The disability perspective on social services and social safety nets was considered in
a Panel Discussion on “Independent Living of Persons with Disabilities” that was held at the
United Nations on 3 December 1998 in connection with the observance of the International
Day ofDisabled Persons. The Panel was moderated by the Chairman of the Second Committee
of the General Assembly at its fifty-third session, Bagher Asadi, Ambassador (Islamic
Republic of Iran), and brought together academic specialists, representatives of the nongovernmental
community and representatives of international private sector financial and
investment services organizations.With its focus on the promotion of sustainable and secure
livelihoods for all, the Panel considered policy issues and strategies for promoting basic
investments in social infrastructure to build national capacities and institutional capabilities.
In a contributed presentation on “Planning for Disability”, the point was made that disability
was normal: it could happen to anyone at any point in the life cycle. It was further noted that
overcoming disabling conditions depended in large measure on the physical and social
environments in which people lived.31 From the disability perspective, the question of
sustainable livelihoods for all thus introduces social and economic accessibility issues, such
as access to education, to information and telecommunications technologies, and to
opportunities for income and wealth. Disability-sensitive policy design and planning, which
is based on universal principles, contribute to sustainable livelihoods for all.
39. A study on the sustainability of United Nations technical cooperation concerning the
development of social services related to persons with disabilities and the capacities of those
services to provide social safety nets and related services appropriate to current economic
conditions is being carried out by the Ministry of Social Affairs (DEPSOS) of the Republic
of Indonesia. The study focuses on community-based rehabilitation (CBR) services for persons
with disabilities planned and established with United Nations technical cooperation in selected
provinces of Indonesia. United Nations technical cooperation did establish four community32 -
based sheltered workshops and promoted support services networks of benefit to persons with
disabilities. The focus of the DEPSOS investigation is on the capacity of these institutions
and services networks to provide immediate and medium-term measures to assist and support
persons with disabilities in coping with current economic and financial conditions. The study
on CBR/sheltered workshops is occasioned by Public Act No. 4 (1997), entitled “Disabled
Persons”, which provides updated policy guidance on mainstreaming of persons with
disabilities in national development. The results of the study are expected to contribute to
improved policy design and programme planning guidelines on providing basic social services
for all.
C. Employment and sustainable livelihoods
40. Employment and sustainable livelihoods constitute another of the priority goals to which
Governments committed themselves at the World Summit for Social Development
(Copenhagen, 1995). The interim report on the implementation of the World Programme of
Action mentioned an innovative “Seminar on Microcredit and Persons with Disabilities in
Western Africa” which was organized at Bamako from 25 to 30 October 1998 by the
Government ofMali in cooperation with the non-governmental community (E/CN.5/1999/5,
para. 18). The results of that Seminar together with similar experiences in promoting
sustainable livelihoods by, for and with persons with disabilities were considered at a
“Seminar on Employment and Sustainable Livelihoods of People with Disabilities” organized
at the United Nations on 26 April 1999.33 The Seminar was moderated by the Chairman of
the thirty-seventh session of the Commission for Social Development, Aurelio Fernández,
Counsellor (Social Affairs), Permanent Mission of Spain. The Seminar reviewed and
discussed enabling factors and obstacles to promotion of employment opportunities and
sustainable livelihoods by, for and with persons with disabilities. Special attention was
directed to the role of technology transfer, microcredit and institutional development. The
Seminar offered presentations by representatives of the academic and non-governmental
communities and the private sector on international policy issues and trends and on selected
project experience from Africa and Latin America, which included activities supported by
the United Nations Voluntary Fund on Disability.
41. A major cross-cutting theme considered at the Seminar was gender-sensitive and
disability-responsive policy design and evaluation. The presentation noted that human rights
was the critical issue concerning the situation of persons with disabilities and that issues of
gender made disability a difficult task for women with disabilities. First, women often do not
enjoy equal opportunities to earn their own livelihoods or have equal access to education,
income and wealth. Second, the data available suggest that poverty is not gender-neutral, and
that women with disabilities thus face a double burden in their pursuit of employment and
sustainable livelihoods in dignity. Third, the data indicate that women with disabilities are
as capable as men in respect of creating viable employment opportunities. This suggested
a need, as an essential part of any employment promotion strategy,34 to target small-scale
credit and technical and managerial training to meet the particular needs and interests of
women with disabilities.
42. The experience of private sector policy research suggested that people with disabilities
faced the same obstacles as did all people in their pursuit of economic opportunities: access
to capital, technology, technical skills and managerial abilities in order to design and deliver
viable products and services to markets. However, there are particular obstacles that people
with disabilities may face in the workplace, including problems of accessible work
environments, and transportation and communication, and the associated need for personal
assistants, and for personal esteem which is so critical to realizing one’s full potential. New
information technologies, such as the Internet, provide persons with disabilities with expanded
opportunities to interact with other development actors, participate in economic decisions
and gain access to non-traditional economic opportunities. The data available suggest that
three actions are needed to bring about full and effective integration of people with disabilities
in the economy. First, there is a need to ensure that people with disabilities have the same
access to the factors of production as do all persons. This includes a need for nondiscrimination
legislation. Second, there is a need for regular consultation with organizations
of persons with disabilities on plans and programmes that aim to assist them in their economic
pursuits and improve their well-being. Third, there is a need to incorporate the disability
dimension in discussions on economic development issues in the concerned bodies of the
United Nations.35
43. Selected field experiences were presented by (a) Manuel Cárdenas, President of
Fundación Momentum Internaciónal (FMI) of Quito, Ecuador, implementing agent for the
Voluntary Fund-assisted project on training and production of appropriate and affordable
wheelchairs in Ecuador; and (b) Bouali Chakor-Djelthia, President, and Edith Vanneuville-
Zerouki, Consultant, Agence de Coopération internationale pour l’intégration économique
et sociale des personnes handicapées (ACIPH) of Montreal, Quebec, Canada, cooperating
agent with the Government of Mali for the Voluntary Fund-assisted Western Africa regional
seminar on microcredit and accessible financial services for people with disabilities (Bamako,
25-30 October 1998).
44. The following points emerged from the exchange of ideas and experiences:
(a) Technology: disability-responsive technology transfer would appear to be most
effective at the project implementation level. An important role for technical cooperation is
advising and assisting persons with disabilities in regard to technology options; it offers the
means to introduce and adapt technologies that are appropriate to their needs, capabilities
and situation. Information technologies have an especially important contribution to make
to the equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities, since they can both eliminate
barriers to communication and facilitate full participation in social life and development;
(b) Microcredit: the experiences of Ecuador and theWestern Africa subregion would
suggest that access to technology linked with microcredit is essential to promoting viable
employment opportunities and sustainable livelihoods by, for and with persons with
(c) Institutional development: viable institutions are the result of full and effective
participation of all and involvement of persons with disabilities on the basis of equality.
Poverty eradication requires approaches that are gender-responsive and disability-sensitive.
II. United Nations Voluntary Fund on Disability
A. Project cycle activities
45. During the 20-month period from 1 January 1998 to 31 August 1999, the Voluntary
Fund provided nearly US$ 1 million to 35 disability-related projects. As table 1 indicates,
nearly 90 per cent of the projects were carried out at national and regional levels, in Africa,
Asia and the Pacific, Central and Eastern Europe, and Latin America and the Caribbean.
Interregional projects and activities accounted for 11 per cent of the projects and received
15 per cent of the grants disbursed.
Table 1
United Nations Voluntary Fund on Disability: projects supported and grants by
region, 1 January 1998 to 31 August 1999
Region supported (US$)
Projects Grants
Africa 14 299 300
Asia-Pacific 6 218 390
Central and Eastern Europe 5 175 612a
Latin America and the Caribbean 6 160 000
Interregional 4 145 700
Total 35 999 102
Including the third-party cost-sharing contribution of the Government of Turkey (US$ a 50,000)
and the co-financing grant of the Arab Gulf Programme for United Nations Development
Organizations (AGFUND) (US$ 44,000) to Anadolu University, as support for development of
the Technical and Vocational Institute for the Hearing Impaired.
46. In terms of regional distribution, the fact that Africa accounts for 40 per cent of the
projects supported and received 30 per cent of the grants disbursed is due to the generally
small-scale national-level nature of the proposals submitted and approved. The Asia and
Pacific region and Latin America and the Caribbean both account for 17 per cent of the
projects supported, closely followed by the Central and Eastern European region with
14 per cent of projects supported.
47. Decisions to recommend projects for support are considered by interdisciplinary review
entities, at substantive, administrative and financial levels, and are based on the technical
quality of the proposal, its relationship to national policies and the contribution that project
results are expected to make to the further equalization of opportunities by, for and with
persons with disabilities. Grant recommendations take into account General Assembly
guidance on assistance to least developed, heavily indebted and low-income countries,
especially in the Africa region, and to countries in transition. Guidelines for preparing
proposals for consideration by the Voluntary Fund are published on the Internet
48. Table 2 indicates that nearly 75 per cent of all projects supported and 66 per cent of
the grants disbursed were for capacity-building and institutional development for disability
action. By function, this included 14 training and skill development projects (40 per cent);
8 projects (23 per cent) involved technical exchanges— seminars and workshops on priority
disability issues, such as disability policies and legislation, Internet accessibility, employmentgeneration
and microcredit, and sports for persons with disabilities. Nine projects (26 per
cent) involved pilot action, which accounted for 25 per cent of grants disbursed. There were
two main themes in pilot action supported: (a) promotion of income-generating opportunities
by, for and with persons with disabilities and (b) social integration of persons with disabilities,
in particular young persons with disabilities. The balance of the projects supported involved
development information efforts, including production of Braille text, and applied research
and evaluation.
49. While applied research involved only two projects and accounted for less than 8 per cent
of grants disbursed, these efforts are significant for the way in which the Voluntary Fund is
able to assist Governments on request in pursuing catalytic and non-traditional investigations
on emerging disability issues and trends. For instance, the Ministry of Social Affairs of
Indonesia (DEPSOS RI) in cooperation with a non-profit research institute is carrying out
an evaluation of previous technical cooperation activities in the disability field to assess their
sustainability and capacities to respond to current social and economic conditions in terms
of social services and safety nets. In Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare
is being assisted by a local non-governmental organization, Jairos Jiri Association, in
cooperation with the Institute of Child Health, University College London Medical School,
in developing and testing low-cost tools for screening for hearing loss and impairment among
young children, and in developing services appropriate to local conditions, in rural areas in
Table 2
United Nations Voluntary Fund on Disability: projects supported and grants by
function, 1 January 1998 to 31 August 1999
Primary function supported (US$)
Projects Grants
Training 14 347 900
Pilot action 9 241 812
Technical exchanges 8 309 700
Development information 2 24 300
Applied research and evaluation 2 75 390
Total 35 999 102
50. The majority of activities supported by the Voluntary Fund continue to be grass rootsbased
and locally focused: more than four fifths of the projects supported were implemented
by non-governmental organizations with appropriate endorsement of and in cooperation with
concerned governmental bodies and organizations. Non-governmental organizations are well
recognized for their abilities to quickly and efficiently identify and formulate proposals for
catalytic and innovative action in response to emerging issues and needs, in such areas as
leadership training and promotion of non-traditional approaches to employment generation.
Of the balance of the projects supported, four were implemented by governmental bodies;
one project (a regional workshop on Internet accessibility) was carried out by an
intergovernmental organization, the ASEAN secretariat; and one project (an interregional
seminar on environmental accessibility) was carried out by ESCWA.
Table 3
United Nations Voluntary Fund on Disability: projects supported and grants by
project agent, 1 January 1998 to 31 August 1999
Project agent supported (US$)
Projects Grants
Governmental body or organization 4 190 390
United Nations system/other intergovernmental
organization 2 119 500
Non-governmental organization 29 689 212
Total 35 999 102
51. In line with the guidance of the General Assembly, the Voluntary Fund directs special
attention to support for catalytic and innovative action. The resources of the Voluntary Fund
are limited and represent complements to, and not a substitute for, other forms of assistance
available for disability action. This is evident from data on grant disbursements and total
project budgets: during the period under review, the Fund disbursed US$ 999,102 as at
31 August 1999, and the budgets for the 35 projects supported totalled US$ 4,960,468 (see
table 3). Each grant dollar from the Fund served to mobilize an average five times as many
financial resources for concerted practical action in the disability field.
B. Contributions to the Voluntary Fund
52. During the period under review, the Voluntary Fund received one or more contributions
from 15 Governments and an intergovernmental organization, the Arab Gulf Programm36 e
for United Nations Development Organizations (AGFUND) that totalled US$ 571,266.58.
Of that total, US$ 220,116.02 comprised earmarked contributions by seven Governments
(Austria, China, Denmark, Iceland, Japan, the Netherlands and Norway) to support the
activities of the Special Rapporteur on Disability of the Commission for Social Development
to finance infrastructure support for his office, his travel and meetings of his Panel of Experts.
53. The balance of the contributions received during the biennium 1998-1999, including
project-specific contributions by the Government of Turkey and AGFUND, supported
concerted practical action in the disability field. However, these contributions covered slightly
more than one third of the grants disbursed. There is an urgent need to augment the resource
capacities of the Voluntary Fund on a sustained and predictable basis.
C. Selected project experiences
54. Assistance from the Voluntary Fund is provided on request and aims to further the World
Programme’s goals of full participation of persons with disabilities, and equality. During the
period under review, it is possible to identify four clusters of project action: (a) training for
full participation and equality; (b) promotion of social integration of persons with disabilities;
(c) training and promotion of economic participation; and (d) technology transfers. In addition,
Economic and Social Council resolution 1997/20 of 21 July 1997, on children with
disabilities, provided policy and programme guidance that is reflected in the one fifth of all
projects assisted by the Voluntary Fund during the biennium 1998-1999.
55. Projects for leadership training were designed and carried out entirely by
non-governmental organizations, in cooperation with concerned Governments. This included
national training workshops, in Ecuador, Kenya and Uganda, and training bymeans of regional
and interregional exchanges. Chief among the exchanges was the Fifth World Assembly of
Disabled Persons International (DPI) (an international non-governmental organization), held
at Mexico City from 1 to 7 December 1998. President Ernesto Zedillo addressed the DPI
World Assembly, which was attended by 1,500 persons with disabilities from 76 countries.
Participants adopted resolutions that focused on measures to ensure that “the next millennium
must see the integration of disabled people in their societies with full respect of their human
rights”. InMozambique, the Southern African Federation of Disabled Persons in cooperatio37 n
with the Associations of Disabled Mozambicans (ADEMO) held a subregional workshop
on “Equalization of opportunities: legislation, gender and the socioeconomic situation of
landmine victims, women and children with disabilities” from 10 to 13 August 1999 at
Maputo. GraçaMachel graciously addressed the Workshop, which directed special attention
to leadership training and institutional development to improve the social and economic
situation of landmines victims, women and children in particular. Training and applied
research on equalization of opportunities, law and disability policy were the theme of an
international expert meeting and symposium organized by Boalt Hall School of Law,
University of California at Berkeley (United States of America), in cooperation with the World
Institute on Disability from 8 to 12 December 1999.38
56. Social integration of people with disabilities was promoted by means of pilot action
and direct training activities. All projects supported were initiatives of the non-governmental
community in cooperation with the concerned governmental body or organization. For
instance, two of the projects supported involve testing and evaluation of innovative approaches
for counselling and outreach to promote social integration of persons with mental disabilities
in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia, respectively. In Ecuador, social integration of young
disabled persons is being promoted through outreach, demonstrations of innovative therapies
and training of national personnel. A second pilot project on social integration, based in
Ecuador but with a regional Latin American scope, uses training seminars and sports
competitions for persons with disabilities together with health and well-being workshops.
57. Economic participation of people with disabilities is being pursued by means of pilot
action, training and regional seminars. Several of the projects supported are initiatives by
the non-governmental community to promote non-traditional income-generating opportunities
by, for and with people with disabilities. The initiative in Azerbaijan directs special attention
to promotion of economic opportunities among young disabled adults by training in selected
commercial services to meet the demands of its developing economy. In Burkina Faso, Senegal
and Togo, project focus is on promotion of agro industrial-based economic opportunities
among persons with disabilities. At regional level, the Government of Mali in cooperation
with the Malian Federation of Associations of Disabled Persons (FEMAPH), the Western
African Federation ofDisabled Persons (FOAPH) and the International Cooperation Agency
for Economic and Social Integration of Disabled Persons (ACIPH) (a non-governmental
organization) organized a subregional Western Africa Seminar on Microcredit and Persons
with Disabilities (Bamako, 25-30 October 1998). Two projects have involved support for
vocational training and rehabilitation, which include an initiative of the non-governmental
community in Ethiopia and byAnadolu University (Turkey). The Anadolu University initiative
involves establishment of the first combined “Technical and Vocational Training Institute
for the Hearing Impaired” and is generously supported by a third-party co-financing grant
from the Government of Turkey and a multi-year co-financing grant from AGFUND.
58. Pilot action and technology transfer projects have directed special attention to national
capacity-building and institutional development to support application and dissemination of
technologies to improve the social and economic situation of persons with disabilities. Two
of the projects supported, in the Philippines and Zimbabwe, are focusing on testing and
evaluating innovative diagnostic and treatment procedures — for blind and vision-impaired
persons in the Philippines and for those with hearing loss or deafness in Zimbabwe. Special
attention is directed towards development of procedures that are appropriate to the
disadvantaged sectors and under-served populations, to outreach and to training national
personnel. In Malawi, Government and the non-governmental community are cooperating
in training national personnel as orthopaedic technicians. In Uganda, an initiative of the
non-governmental community in cooperation with Government focuses on technical exchanges
and training women with disabilities to design, manufacture, market and repair wheelchairs
and mobility aids. The Uganda mobility project has its origins in the “NGO Forum” organized
in connection with the FourthWorld Conference onWomen (Beijing, 4-15 September 1995).
The project has established an operational workshop — “Mobility Appliances by Disabled
Women Entrepreneurs” (MADE) — at Kampala which is now producing locally folding
wheelchairs appropriate to the needs of an estimated 100,000 Ugandans who need a mobility
59. Two other technology transfer-oriented projects supported by the Voluntary Fund
involve regional and interregional exchanges on the priority theme of accessibility. The
secretariat of ASEAN in cooperation with NIDA of Thailand convened a “Seminar on Internet
Accessibility and Persons with Disabilities” (Bangkok, 12-16 July 1999). The Seminar was
attended by 35 participants and considered a number of strategic issues to promote Internet
accessibility by, for and with persons with disabilities among ASEAN. The Seminar had
substantive contributions by an international presentation team, which established an Internet
presence to support the Seminar (http://www.worldenable.net), and by representatives of the
Centre for Adaptive Environments (http://www.adaptenv.org), the Disabled People’s
Association of Singapore (http://www.dpa.or.sg) and by the Japanese Society for
Rehabilitation of Persons with Disabilities (http://www.jsrd.or.jp).
60. At the initiative of ESCWA, in cooperation with the Government of Lebanon, the
Voluntary Fund is co-financing a seminar and workshop on “Environment Accessibility”
(Beirut, 25 November-5 December 1999).
61. Action related to children with disabilities and their families has mainly involved support
for direct training and pilot action at national level. In Kenya and in Uganda, projects
supported have focused on training of trainers in sign language to facilitate the education and
social integration of young hearing-impaired persons. In Armenia, project support has been
provided for training of national personnel concerning education of children with special
needs. In the Russian Federation and Slovakia, initiatives of the non-governmental community
have focused on outreach and training to promote social integration of children with
disabilities and their families. A pilot initiative of the State Welfare Organization of the
Islamic Republic of Iran involves testing and evaluating innovative approaches to making
libraries more accessible to children with disabilities and thereby promote their social
D. Cooperation with the Arab Gulf Programme for United Nations
Development Organizations (AGFUND)
62. The United Nations Voluntary Fund on Disability has been cooperating with AGFUND
for nearly two decades, beginning shortly after the adoption of theWorld Programme of Action
concerning Disabled Persons by the General Assembly at its thirty-seventh session (Assembly
resolution 37/52 of 3 December 1982).
63. It might be recalled that the President of AGFUND, Prince Talal Bin Abdul Aziz Al
Saud, who was instrumental in establishing the Arab Gulf Programme in 1981 to support
social development and humanitarian efforts of developing countries in cooperation with
concerned United Nations agencies and their development programmes, had addressed the
fourth session of the Advisory Committee of the International Year of Disabled Persons
(Vienna, 14 July 1982).
64. The Board of Directors of AGFUND currently comprises representatives of the
following member States: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab
Emirates. AGFUND directs special attention to the situation of women and children in
developing countries and carries out these efforts in cooperation with the United Nations
system, with concerned non-governmental organizations and with Arab governmental bodies
dealing with the situation of the Arab child.39
65. Cooperation with AGFUND has represented a significant difference in the efforts of
the Voluntary Fund to support catalytic and innovative measures to further equalization of
opportunities by, for and with persons with disabilities in countries. The wise and
distinguished leadership of Prince Talal in the field of disability and his strong commitment
to the social and institution dimensions of disability action were recognized in a testimonial
presented by United Nations Secretary-General Javier Pérez de Cuellar in connection with
the United Nations Decade of Disabled Persons (1983-1992).
66. AGFUND has approved, to date, support for 22 projects in cooperation with the
Voluntary Fund for practical action to build capacities of developing countries for disability
action. AGFUND, whose pledges exceed US$ 1,150,000, is, in its generous support, one of
the longest sources of project-specific financial resources for the Voluntary Fund.
67. Cooperation with AGFUND has also contributed to greater awareness and support for
a broad human rights perspective on disability action, which reflects the deep interest of
AGFUND in the social, cultural and institutional aspects of development cooperation projects.
The AGFUND focus on the situation of women and children has reinforced this critical
dimension of mainstream development, which is evident in a recent project of ESCWA on
support for the “Regional Centre for Rehabilitation and Training of Blind Girls and Women”
(Amman, Jordan) that was co-financed by both AGFUND and the Voluntary Fund.
68. The AGFUND difference in disability-sensitive development cooperation is
characterized by its generous support for efforts to empower beneficiaries — women and
children in particular — to acquire new skills and knowledge for disability action and to
strengthen capacities of persons with disabilities to participate in social life and development
on the basis of equality.
E. Disability-sensitive development cooperation in the twenty-first
century: partnerships and venture grants
69. The preceding review of project cycle activities of the Voluntary Fund, selected project
experiences and cooperation with AGFUND begs the questions what next, and what are the
implications for disability-sensitive development cooperation in the twenty-first century.
70. The Voluntary Fund is but one of a number of resources available to Governments for
assistance in the disability field. The unique value proposition of the Voluntary Fund derives
from its link with the goals of theWorld Programme of Action— full participation of persons
with disabilities in social life and development, and equality. Recent activities of the Fund
reflect the priorities identified by the General Assembly for equalization of opportunities of
persons with disabilities, a development objective of the World Programme of Action.
71. There are three distinguishing characteristics of Voluntary Fund action that contribute
to its unique value proposition. The first characteristic is the concern with catalytic and
innovative action for equalization of opportunities by, for and with persons with disabilities.
For instance, during the biennium 1998-1999, more than 80 per cent of the projects supported
were designed and implemented by the non-governmental community and more than 60 per
cent of the projects involved support for training, institutional development and technical
exchanges; an additional 25 per cent of projects involved pilot action. The second
characteristic is the concern with “open approaches” to the provision of advice, assistance
and referrals on request. The Voluntary Fund does not simply provide grants: often it will
respond to requests for assistance with substantive comments, will suggest referrals and will
seek to build networks among interested communities on selected disability topics and issues.
Building networks and providing referrals add value to problem-solving as well as stimulate
innovative action in the disability field. In addition, the Voluntary Fund may on request advise
and assist with formulation of project plans of operation for especially innovative concepts
submitted for its consideration and prepare resource analyses on implementation options,
including third-party cost-sharing, which provide a means to reinforce the disability
perspective in mainstream development. The third characteristic that contributes to the unique
value proposition of the Voluntary Fund is its focus on initiatives that contribute to “an
architecture of the possibilities of human beings”. As noted above, a number of 40 Voluntary
Fund-supported initiatives have focused on building leadership, and managerial or technical
skills and have thereby empowered persons with disabilities to plan, negotiate and implement
practical action.
72. These three value propositions serve to distinguish the Voluntary Fund from other forms
of assistance and are termed “unique”, since they are contributing to changes in the rules of
the game for development cooperation in the disability field. First, the activities of the
Voluntary Fund are premised on partnership by, for and with persons with disabilities. This
approach has contributed to an observed branding of its seed-money grants as venture-grant
assistance for catalytic and innovative action. Second, the activities of the Voluntary Fund
respond to priorities identified by the General Assembly, which provide the framework for
cooperation with Governments in the disability field.
73. The strategy of the Voluntary Fund in addressing the priorities for action identified in
General Assembly resolution 52/82 has been: (a) to focus on constituency-driven initiatives
that address a particular disability issue in a catalytic and innovative way; (b) to work with
project agents to formulate time-bound, operational proposals for action; and (c) to document
lessons learned for study by other interested parties, including publication on the Internet to
facilitate global access.
74. The lessons of the Voluntary Fund during the current biennium underscore the important
contributions that are made to the realization of practical action in the disability field by (a)
concise, strategic policy guidance by Governments on priorities and means of executions,
(b) partnerships at all levels to facilitate consultation and coordination, and (c) technical and
financial assistance, small-scale, quickly disbursed venture grants in particular.
75. The experience of the Voluntary Fund also suggests that, as disability-sensitive policies
provide an enabling framework for action, investments in building national capacities and
institutions of civil society and support for initiatives promoting environmental accessibility
are central to achieving the aim identified in General Assembly resolution 48/99, of 20
December 1993, with respect to achieving a society for all by 2010.
76. The capacities of the Voluntary Fund to support initiatives of Governments and the
non-governmental community in cooperation with Governments in the twenty-first century
invariably depend upon the level of resources voluntarily provided on a predictable and
sustained basis. As noted above, projects supported to date have drawn increasingly on the
operational reserve available through prudent planning and management of Voluntary Fund
resources in previous bienniums. The resources of the Voluntary Fund urgently require
strengthening if the Voluntary Fund is to continue its support of catalytic, innovative and
practical action to further equalization of opportunities by, for and with persons with
disabilities in the biennium 2000-2001 and beyond.
A/37/351/Add.1 and Corr.1, annex, sect. VIII, recommendation 1 (1 iv).
2 Robert L. Metts, Ph.D., “Planning for disability”, paper presented at Panel Discussion on Independent
Living and Persons with Disabilities, United Nations, 3 December 1998
3 Constituency-focused strategies aim to create value through the development of solutions based on
shared interests, values and aspirations. See Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersema, The Discipline of
Market Leaders (London, Harper and Collins, 1996), p. 135.
4 Kevin Kelly, “New rules for the new economy”, Wired (September 1997)
5 Brian Behelendorf, “Open source as a business strategy”, in Open Sources: Voices from the Open
Source Revolution, Chris Dibona, Mark Stone and Sam Ockman, eds. (Cambridge, Massachusetts,
O’Reilly and Associates, 1999).
6 Carl Shapiro and Hal R. Varian, Information Rules: A Strategic Guide to the Network Economy
(Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard Business School Press, 1998).
7 See discussion in chapter one, “Situation analysis”, in Integrated National Disability Strategy: White
Paper (Republic of South Africa, Office of the Deputy President, November 1997).
8 Available in English (http://www.unescap.org/decade/agenda.htm).
9 The Guidelines are available at the ESCAP Internet site on the World Wide Web
(http://www.unescap.org/decade/publications/z15009gl/z15009gl.htm) as are Case Studies
10 Available in English (http://www.unescap.org/decade/nhe3.htm).
11 Shapiro and Varian, op. cit.
12 John D. Wright, “Is IT [information technology] a catalyst for re-engineering government?”, Urban
and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) News (July/August 1995), pp. 5-6.
13 Leo Valdes, “Accessibility on the Internet”, priority theme report
14 Cynthia D. Waddell, J. D., “Applying the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) to the Internet: a
web accessibility standard”, paper presented to the (United States) American Bar Association
National Conference “In Pursuit ... A Blueprint for Disability Law and Policy” (Washington, D.C.,
17-19 June 1998) (http://www.rit.edu/~easi/law/weblaw1.htm).
15 Guide d’Internet du Gouvernement du Canada, La partie III, “Construction du site: accessibilité
universelle; l’utilisateur final”, 3rd ed. (Ottawa, 1998) (http://canada.gc.ca/programs/guide/
16 Microsoft “Accessibility” Internet site (http://www.microsoft.com/enable). References to brands and
product names are trade marks or registered trade marks of the respective company. References to
brands and products cited do not represent endorsement by the United Nations Secretariat.
17 A select set of Internet accessibility resources consulted in connection with the “Gateway pilot
project” are listed in Leo Valdes, “Accessibility on the Internet”, loc. cit.
18 The latest release is version 1.0 (5 May 1999) published by the World Wide Web Consortium, a
non-governmental organization (http://www.w3.org/TR/1999/WAI-WEBCONTENT-19990505).
19 The report on the first phase in design, development and testing of the accessible “Gateway for social
policy and development” (http://www.un.org/esa/socdev) has been published on line by the consultant
team for the project (http://www.visionoffice.com/spd).
20 The Gateway initiative in Internet accessibility has been recognized for excellence by
non-governmental organizations in the disability field. On 2 December 1998, in a ceremony at Lincoln
Center for the Performing Arts, in New York City, the Non-Profiting Computing Organization
presented the Division for Social Policy and Development of the United Nations Secretariat with the
Howard Silverman Award for its efforts in making social development information accessible to all.
On 4 December 1998, in a ceremony at the United States State Department in Washington, D.C., the
People-to-People Committee on Disability presented the Division with the Bernard Posner Award for
its efforts to promote international Internet accessibility.
“Treat the beta testers as a key development source”, in Eric Raymond, The Cathedral and 21 the
Bazaar (http://www.tuxedo.org/~esr/writings/cathedral-bazaar/cathedral.html).
22 “Investing in the virtual world, so to speak, needs investments in the real world as well”; and “The Net
May Rule”, editorial, Far Eastern Economic Review (13 May 1999)
23 In response to the implications of global population ageing for Internet accessibility, the Microsoft
Corporation recently published a White Paper: Craig D. Spiezle, Effective Web Design
Considerations for Older Persons (Redmond, May 1999) available on the Web
(http://www.microsoft.com/seniors/content/pr99/webdesign_doc.asp). The document considers the
social, institutional and technical aspects of Internet accessibility and Web designs that are
appropriate to older persons in countries.
24 The Workshop report is available on the Web
25 See policy analysis in John R. Mathiason and Charles Kuhlman, “International public regulation of
the Internet: who will give you your domain name?”, paper presented to the International Studies
Association “Panel on Cyberhype or the Deterritorialization of Politics” (Minneapolis, Minnesota,
21 March 1998) available on the Web (http://www.intlmgt.com/pastprojects/domain.html).
26 World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) publication, No. 92-805-0779-6; a PowerPoint
presentation is available on the Web (http://wipo2.wipo.int/process/eng/wipo1.html).
27 “Accessibility 1998 Project” (http://www.intlmgt.com/Accessibility98/access98indes.html).
28 Report of the World Summit for Social Development, Copenhagen, 6-12 March 1995 (United
Nations publication, Sales No. E.96.IV.8), chap. I, resolution 1, annex 1, commitment 6
29 For report of the Workshop, see document E/CN.5/1999/6, annex, submitted to the Commission for
Social Development for consideration at its thirty-seventh session.
30 Official Records of the Economic and Social Council, 1999, Supplement No. 6 (E/1999/26), chap. I,
31 Robert L. Metts, “Planning for disability”, loc. cit.
32 United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) projects INS/79/023 and INS/88/020, executed by
the International Labour Organization.
33 The report of the Seminar and contributed papers are available on the Internet (http://www.un.org/esa/
34 Margaret Snyder, Ph.D., “Issues in gender-sensitive and disability-responsive policy research, training
and action” (http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/disrppeg.htm).
35 María-Cristina Sara-Serrano Mathiason, “Las personas con discapacidad sí pueden integrarse a la
economia internacional” (http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/disrpa1.htm).
36 Austria, Bangladesh, China, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, Monaco, the
Netherlands, Norway, the Philippines, Slovenia and Turkey.
37 Recommendations adopted at the Fifth World Assembly of Disabled Peoples International are
available on the Web (http://www.dpi.org/resolution.html).
38 The report of the expert meeting is available on the Internet (http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/
39 Arab Gulf Programme for United Nations Development Organizations (AGFUND): 1991-1995
(AGFUND, Riyadh), pp. 11-13.
40 Benjamin Zander, conductor, Boston Philharmonic, as quoted in Tom Peters, The Circle of
Innovation (London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1998), p. 144.
Annex I
United Nations Voluntary Fund on Disability:
projects supported
Africa Burkina Faso
Projet de l’élevage des porcs pour les personnes
handicapées. Groupement des handicapés producteurs de
Ouagadougou (NGO).
Awareness seminars for people with disabilities. Disability
Awareness Missions (NGO).
Uganda disabled women’s whirlwind wheelchair project.
Whirlwind Wheelchair International (NGO).
Uganda Sign Language Training. Uganda National
Association of the Deaf (NGO).
Regional Western Africa
Séminaire sur les personnes handicapées en Afrique de
l’Ouest et le microcrédit (Bamako, 26-30 octobre 1998).
Gouvernement du Mali. Ministère de la Santé des
personnes agées et de la solidarité, in cooperation with
Agence de coopération internationale pour l’integration
économique et sociale des personnes handicapées (NGO)
and in association with Fédération Ouest-Africaine des
associations des personnes handicapées and Fédération
malienne des associations de personnes handicapées.
Asia-Pacific Philippines
Prevention of blindness among children, youth, and
working adults from the poor sectors of society.
Ophthalmological Foundation of the Philippines,
Inc. (NGO).
Europe Croatia
Community-based rehabilitation for people with mental
disability. Association for Promotion of Inclusion (NGO).
Russian Federation
Support for families of children with disabilities in the
Russian Federation. Bureau International Catholique de
l’Enfance (NGO).
Equal opportunity for all: integration of children with
multiple disabilities into mainstream education. Nezavislot
Technical vocational institute for the hearing impaired in
Turkey. Anadolu University (Eskisehr).
Latin America and the Ecuador
Caribbean Encuentro deportivo internacional de las personas con
discapacitades, celebración del Día Mundial de los
Discapacitados (Quito, Ecuador). Fundación Momentum
Internacional (NGO).
Puerto Rico
Disabled individuals’ access to the political process.
International Foundation for Election Systems (NGO).
Publicaciones para personas discapacitadas visuales de la
tercera edad. Fundación Braille del Uruguay (NGO).
Interregional Fifth World Assembly of Disabled Peoples’ International
(Mexico City, 1-7 December 1998). Disabled Peoples’
International (NGO).
Early assistance series for families of children with
disabilities. The Hesperian Foundation (NGO).
Consultative Expert Meeting on Law and Disability
Policies (Berkeley, 8-12 December 1998). World Institute
on Disability (NGO) in association with University of
California at Berkeley (United States of America).
Africa Burkina Faso
Projet de mise en place d’unités de production en faveur
des personnes handicapées de Gourcy. Coup D’Pouce
Burkina (NGO).
Vocational training and rehabilitation for people with
disabilities. Development for Handicapped Persons
Organisation (NGO)
Training and education for hearing-impaired children. The
Kenya Society for Deaf Children (NGO).
Séminaire pour les techniciens orthopédistes responsables
de centre d’appareillage (Bamako, Mali). Handicap
International (NGO).
Projet d’intégré d’aviculture et de maraîchage pour la
promotion des membres de la section féminine de
l’Association nationales des handicapés moteurs du
Sénégal. L’Association nationale des handicapés moteurs
du Sénégal (NGO).
Projet d’extraction d’huile de karité, de neem, et de
palmiste, et fabrication artisanale de savon antiseptique.
Cercle d’entraide aux albinos malvoyants (NGO).
Institutional development for positive action concerning
persons with disabilities. People with Disabilities Uganda
Pilot project development of low-cost tools and provision
of services to meet the needs of children with hearing
impairment in Binga District. Jairos Jiri Association
(Zimbabwe), in cooperation with the Ministry of Health
and Child Welfare of Zimbabwe in association with the
Institute of Child Health of University College London
Medical School (United Kingdom of Great Britain and
Northern Ireland).
Regional Southern Africa
Workshop on equalization of opportunities: legislation,
gender, and the socio-economic situation of landmine
victims, women and children with disabilities (Maputo,
10-13 August 1999). Southern Africa Federation of
Disabled Persons (NGO), in association with the
Mozambique Association of Disabled Persons (ADEMO).
Asia-Pacific Armenia
Education for children with special needs. Teacher
Training Pedagogical Institute of the Ministry of Education
and Science (Armenia).
Disabled and Disadvantaged Azeri Children and Youth.
Foundation for Disadvantaged Azeri Children and Youth
Evaluation of community-based rehabilitation in Indonesia.
Ministry of Social Affairs (Indonesia).
Islamic Republic of Iran
Inclusive libraries for children with disabilities. State
Welfare Organization (Islamic Republic of Iran).
Regional Southeast Asia
ASEAN Seminar on Internet Accessibility and Persons
with Disabilities (Bangkok, 12-16 July 1999). ASEAN
secretariat, Subcommittee on Microelectronics and
Information Technology, in cooperation with the National
Institute of Development Administration of Thailand.
Eastern and Central Bosnia and Herzegovina
Europe Social inclusion of persons with mental retardation.
Association for Social Inclusion of Persons with Mental
Retardation (NGO).
Latin America and the Ecuador
Caribbean Proyecto de entrenamiento en terapia a caballo para los
niños discapacitados. La Fundación Amor y Energía
Capacitación de lideres para trabajar con discapacitados y
terapia del deporte como rehabilitación de discapacitados.
Fundación de Acción Communitaria (NGO).
Regional Latin America
El taller internacional de deportes para personas con
discapacidades (Loja, Ecuador). Momentum International
Interregional Workshop and interregional seminar on environmental
accessibility (Beirut, 29 November-3 December 1999).
Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia.
Annex II
Projects co-financed in cooperation with the Arab Gulf
Programme for United Nations Development Organizations
Africa Djibouti
Assistance to Disabled Persons. Government of Djibouti
(UNCSDHA 10/13 DJI).
Development of National Orthopaedic/Functional
Rehabilitation Centre. Government of Mauritania
(UNCSDHA 21/13).
Vocational Training of Physically Disabled Persons.
Government of Sudan; executed by the International
Labour Organization (UNCSDHA 8/11 SUD).
Establishment of a Transitional Production Workshop
International. Government of Swaziland; executed by the
International Labour Organization (UNCSDHA 12/17).
Agricultural Training for Visually Disabled Persons.
Government of Tunisia; executed by the International
Labour Organization (UNCSDHA 10/13 TUN).
Integrated School for Disabled Children. Government of
Uganda; executed by the Society of Abilities for the
Physically Handicapped (UNVFD 29/12).
West African subregion
Workshop for Key Medical and Technical Personnel in
Prosthetics and Orthotics for West African Subregion
(UNCSDHA 8/11-RAF/89/D34).
Regional Africa
Assistance à la Fédération ouest-africaine pour la
promotion des personnes handicapées. West African
Federation of Association for the Advancement of
Disabled Persons (UNCSDHA 11/19).
Asia-Pacific India
Pilot project on family-based services for disabled
children. Government of India; implemented by
Association for the Development of the Multiply
Handicapped Child (UNCSDHA 8/11 IND).
Resource Centres for Blind Women. Government of
Pakistan; implemented by Pakistan Association for the
Blind (UNCSDHA 8/11).
Europe Turkey
Technical/Vocational Institute for Hearing Impairment.
Government of Turkey; Anadolu University (UNVFD
Support for rehabilitation of disabled persons, Slovenia;
Ljubljana Service for Technical Cooperation
Latin America and the Dominican Republic
Caribbean Pilot Training Centre in Orthopaedics and Prosthetics.
Government of the Dominican Republic; executed by
Institute of Santo Domingo of the Dominican
Rehabilitation Association (UNCSDHA 12/16).
Training Mentally Disabled Persons. Government of
Haiti; executed by L’Arche d’Haïti (UNCSDHA
8/11 HAI).
Production of Textbooks in Spanish Braille. Government
of Uruguay; executed by the Braille Foundation of
Uruguay (UNCSDHA 10/13 URU).
Western Asia Jordan
Expansion of the Amman Centre for the Physically
Handicapped. Government of Jordan (UNCSDHA
Training and Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons.
Government of Lebanon (UNCSDHA 10/13 LEB).
Expansion of the Broummana Centre of the Al-Amal
Institute for Mentally Retarded Children. Al-Amal
Institute (UNCSDHA 21/14).
Western Asia
Workshop for Key Medical and Technical Personnel in
Prosthetics and Orthotics for Western Asia (UNCSDHA
Western Asia
Technical Advisory Services to Gulf Countries for
Development of Statistics of Disabled Persons. United
Nations Statistics Division (UNCSDHA 11/16).
Global Pilot Programme to Promote the Manufacture of Lower-
Limb Prostheses in Developing Countries. Appropriate
Health Resources and Technologies Action Group, Ltd.
(UNCSDHA 11/17).
Stimulation and Monitoring by Rehabilitation
International of Concerted Action in Selected Target
Areas of Disability Prevention. Rehabilitation
International (UNCSDHA 11/18).