Rights Issues for Disadvantaged Groups

23 October 2013 - A Workshop on Human Rights in Bali, Indonesia

Organizer Name 

Franklin Marianne

Organizer Entity 

IRP Coalition

Workshop Theme 

Human Rights / Freedom of Expression on the Internet

Consise description 


This workshop, organized by the IRP Coalition in collaboration with the Dynamic Coalition on Accessibility and Disability, IT for Change, and the Centre for Internet Society, examines how the internet can uphold a “people centered, inclusive and development-oriented information society” (WSIS, 2005) for indigenous peoples and disadvantaged groups among other marginalized groups. Internet rights and principles uniquely impact marginalized groups and present challenges in terms of governance, public policy, and technical design (e.g. standardized interface features that support orality and visual media, as well as text to speech, and voice to text applications, multilingualism). This workshop explores challenges around the tension between specific contexts and universal expressions of rights, responsibilities, and obligations. It intends to propose ways of meeting the challenges in supporting universal access, effective use, and specialized services for marginalized populations including indigenous peoples, non-technical and oral cultures, the physically disabled, and the digitally disadvantaged within rural and remote communities.
The ideal values and outcomes of a universally accessible Internet include: interoperability, privacy, transparency, participatory design, cultural and linguistic diversity, support for oral cultures and non-technical populations, open access, and support for the commons. However, there are limitations and constraints consistent with the global diffusion of information and communication technologies (ICTs). Internet Society fails its promise if it fails to promote cultural equality and other characteristics of discrimination in ICT design and use. 
Recognizing tensions between values and limitations, public and private interests, the roundtable will advance a way forward by making some concrete recommendations that will further the work done by both these two Dynamic Coalitions and partners in putting internet rights and principles into practice for these specific communities of meeds/ . 
This workshop is one of two being organized by the IRP Coalition in partnership with other stakeholders. It aims to link the broader themes of the other workshop (“Charting the Charter”) to the everyday realities of these groups of users whose specific needs impact on internet design, access, and use. In 2010 the IRP Coalition launched the first version of the Charter of Human Rights and Principles for the Internet (IGF-Vilnius) followed by the current (“Beta”) Version and its Ten Principles in 2011 (IGF-Nairobi). This IRP Charter is one of the IGF's success stories in multistakeholderism. Over the years, IRP workshops have articulated and advanced dialogue about diverse internet related human rights issues that are reflected within internet policy and within United Nations Human Rights mechanisms. At IGF-Bali the IRP Coalition’s two interrelated workshops and Meeting Proposal (“Towards Charter 2.0”) aim to enhance cooperation with companion projects at the IGF and in other forums (e.g. the Internet Principles Working Group, the Council of Europe Compendium project) that can move the rights and principles laid out in the IRP Charter into a\set of focused action plans. 
This workshop is an important step towards achieving these aims as well as developing a closer working relationship between Dynamic Coalitions to address issues we have in common, namely around how the IRP Charter sections on cultural diversity, education, protection of cultural heritage, disability and indigenous rights can be improved in light of ongoing work by the technical community, private sector, and governments to make the internet accessible and usable for all. This workshop is a new direction for the Coalition, providing new perspectives on the internet rights and principles of indigenous and disabled representatives from developed and less developed countries and from small Island states from the Pacific, as well as representatives of other stakeholder groups particularly from the Asia Pacific region. These perspectives will be used to update the Charter and will be used to operationalize a more effective means of implementation and assessment of internet rights for underserved and neglected populations. 



Agenda: This session is in the form of an interactive open session will address the issues of indigenous peoples and disadvantaged groups. The objectives and intended outcomes for this collaborative and hands-on workshop are two fold: (1) to kick-start the next round of debates and priority-setting in light of selected topics from these projects, and (2) to brainstorm together in order to draft a joint plan of action that can refine the drafting process and move these projects forward. For this reason the session will be in two parts. After a panel of speakers have outlined briefly what they consider to be the challenges to achieving a human-centred internet for the future, the second part of the session will be in the form of breakout groups that concentrate on thematic lines and come up with actions points. The last part of the workshop will be reporting back. The workshop will end with brief comments from the panel, and agreement on how to proceed.


Robert Bodle & Marianne Franklin

Remote Moderator 

Ms Deirdre Williams, DiploFoundation Community and Remote Participation Working Group

Have you organized workshops at previous IGFs?


Workshop format 

Open Discussion

Workshop Transcript 


Brief substantive summary of the workshop and presentation of the main issues that were raised during the discussions 


This workshop set out to address particular challenges for disadvantaged groups in enjoying a “people centered, inclusive and development-oriented information society” on the Internet. And it proposed ways of meeting these challenges in support of universal access, effective use, and specialized services for disadvantaged populations that include: the physically disabled, non-technical and oral cultures, and the digitally disadvantaged within rural and remote communities.



Conclusions drawn from the workshop and further comments 


Five participants were asked to make brief introductory statements indicating the context and circumstances for their own groups, focusing on specific cases and examples of how disability and/or marginalization affect access and use of the internet.


Issues discussed and the roles of stakeholders mentioned in the opening statements included:


  • importance of open access to information to government data.
  • last mile delivery
  • barriers (cost, cultural)
  • accessible design barriers in design, accessible technologies
  • need to break down and eliminate these barriers and highlighting
  • need for accessibility and inclusiveness, availability and awareness
  • discrimination from a legal perspective
  • gap between substance of the law and reality in the design
  • at the state level there is a public-private divide, where digital by default not yet feasible
  • at the international level, there is a need for focal groups to develop and enshrine the rights to accessibility technology and technological change.
  • rights of marginalized, vulnerable groups.
  • access to information – how to be safe and responsible online
  • education, training in how to be safe and responsible at the same time – an important component to access.
  • national strategy of inclusion of use of strategies for vulnerable and marginalized groups with ICTs
  • many experiences of marginalization are shared among different groups – encapsulated by the notion of intersectionality
  • gender is an important component when discussing access, openness, technology, usage, and who is effected. For example women with disabilities face double discrimination.
  • need to factor gender and sexual minorities, sexual rights activities
  • sexual and reproductive rights (safe and legal abortion)
  • Safe sex education content
  • LGBT rights



The roles of important stakeholders identified as part of the solution included:

  • libraries front and center
  • cooperation among the technical community and businesses (the private sector).
  • designers – accessibility and creativity not mutually exclusive
  • policy makers at various levels, businesses, designers, and lawmakers
  • activists



Following these initial interventions the moderator asked the panelists to pose questions for the audience, designed to get the audience to participate at a substantive level. The panelists asked:


  • What are some tangible measures to bring about change in accessibility design?
  • How to design access and inclusion?
  • What are some tools, platforms, and incentives to allow people to access?
  • What can we do in addition to accessibility design?
  • For indigenous communities, what happens after access?
  • Are market incentives as way forward in universal design



Following these initial interventions the audience, together with the panelists,  explored additional factors, issues to consider, and covered the following areas:


  • Vulnerability of oral communities and indigenous communities
  • Selective accessibility
  • Language barriers
  • Need to get away from individual characteristics of disability that puts the onus on individual the user and embrace “Universal Access”
  • Disability is not a niche issue at the design and use levels.
  • Need to Ingrain inclusive legal frameworks into the regulation of technology
  • Internet Governance should support physical infrastructure (as well as design of accessibility technologies).
  • How does policy affects people with disabilities?
  • What are some success factors and challenges?
  • Need for national strategy – to coordinate between ministries



Conclusions drawn from the workshop and further comments 


The workshop drew the following the conclusions:


  • Defined and broadened the understanding of disadvantaged groups as well as informed the definition of inclusiveness to include: gender and sexual minorities, indigenous populations, oral communities, the homeless, youth, remote participants, and the elderly.



  • Identified the critically important roll of end users to be involved from the “ground up” in discussions, research, and design of accessibility technology and policy in order to best identify tangible problems and solutions, and to identify the needs.


  • The notion of intersectionality (or “Joined up thinking”) - that problems and solutions intersect among marginalized groups can help identify broad problems in ICTs addressing the needs of marginalized groups.


  • There is an urgent need for coordination between policy makers, ministries, designers, users, and effected populations. And Internet Governance can help in coordinating this, as well as NGOs and research groups, technical community, existing institutions – specifically libraries, and disadvantaged end users as the most important stakeholders.


  • To make access and inclusiveness a default.




Reported by 

Robert Bodle/Stuart Hamilton

Estimate the overall number of women participants present at the session 

About half of the participants were women

To what extent did the session discuss gender equality and/or women's empowerment? 

It was one of the main themes of the session
It was raised by one or more of the speakers as an important aspect of the session's theme

Discussion affecting gender equality and women's empowerment 

Women's exclusion as this relates to being disadvantaged (as distinct from being disabled) was integral to this workshops; Specific issues about sociocultural and economic forms of disadvantage within theme of public internet access also mentioned women's rights. 

PLEASE NOTE: we were not aware of this reporting entailing such specific number keeping. The meeting as a whole had 30 participants of which 2/3 were from Global South and women. We cannot report more specitically so next year please flag this report form *before* the meeting starts so that moderators can keep tabls. 

Workshops Staticals 

Number of FEMALE participantsNumber of MALE participantsNumber of Young participantsNumber of Developing Countries ParticipantsNumber of Developed Countries ParticipantsNumber of LDCs participantsNumber of TOTAL Participants
15 15 5 0 0 0 30