By Judy Okite
The Government of Ethiopia hosted the 17th Internet Governance Forum (IGF) between 28 November to 2 December 2022 in Addis Ababa under the overarching theme Resilient Internet for a Shared Sustainable and Common Future. I arrived early Monday morning to rest, freshen up, and attend the afternoon session.
Unfortunately, things did not work out that way. The hotel where I was booked claimed to have an accessible room, but the walking frame could not even go through the door to the washroom. I will let you fill in the other gaps regarding accessibility in this room.
So now they try to convince me that Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) have been using this room? How?
I wonder what standards for accessibility they would be using in this regard. So, that was my first day being turned upside down by trying to get a hotel that works.
The hotel was trying hard to make it work. They even got someone to fix the hand bars; if that was ‘fixed’, I had to try to work my way through the small door, but I couldn’t have both.
Accessibility is NOT an emergency
Either you have it at that moment or not. I am now in a different hotel with an accessible, much better room.
When I arrive at the conference centre, one of the key areas that I must see is the IGF village. That’s where I get to network, meet with old friends and colleagues, and even make new friends. What a disappointment!
I missed out on that part this year because it was entirely inaccessible. The area leading to the village had a very bumpy floor that was not easy to maneuver, either with a walking frame or a wheelchair.
The meeting rooms and the seating arrangements are also an issue. If there is a platform in the room but no way to get to it, and the seating arrangement does not allow for a wheelchair space, we are back to basics.
Dynamic Coalition on Accessibility and Disability (DCAD) produced a report providing guidelines for ensuring accessibility in the IGF meetings for the host countries. To ensure inclusivity for all, IGF hosts and the MAG should include them in their planned actions.
We at KICTANET advocate for accessibility for all, so this is and always will be a focus area for highlighting in any conference, workshop, training, event, etc. that we attend.
Judy Okite is the program lead for the KICTANet Accessibility program. Visit our website for the Internet Governance Forum 2022(IFG2022) session updates from the team.