By IDA

 - May 24, 2017

The United Nations is setting standards for accessibility of its meetings by providing sign-language and Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) at the HLPF. We are especially thankful for the leadership of Ms. Lotta Tähtinen (UN DESA, DSD) and Mr. Sergey Kochetkov (DGACM).

The High-level Political Forum (HLPF) 2017 will be held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, from 10 to 19 July. As per previous sessions, the HLPF 2017 is expected to have participation from a large delegation of persons with disabilities, and accessibility to these meetings and their preparation are key to ensuring equal and fair access for all participants. The Stakeholder Group of Persons with Disabilities has been meeting with the UN Department of Economics and Social Affairs (DESA) through the Division for Sustainable Development – as the organising office for the HLPF, and the United Nations Department for General Assembly and Conference Management (DGACM) to discuss the developments of accessibility at the UN during its meetings.

We are very pleased to share that the 2017 HLPF will provide the following accessibility features for persons with disabilities.

  • Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) services will be provided for deaf and hard of hearing participants for all HLPF plenary sessions.
  • International Sign interpretation will be provided for the Ministerial Segment of the HLPF (17-19 July).
  • Captions for all of the HLPF sessions will be included in the UN webcast, and additionally International Sign interpretation will be included during the Ministerial Segment.
  • Portable audio translation devices will be distributed for wheelchair users and sign language interpreters in the gallery for all the sessions.
  • Specific seats for persons with disabilities with ample space to maneuver will be reserved.
  • The HLPF and sustainable development knowledge platform websites will have accessible features, including Word documents and alt-text descriptions for images.
  • Presentation materials will be shared in advance with sign language interpreters and CART providers.

We congratulate the UN on this positive outcome, as it is a stellar example of leadership at the global level on how to create an accessible and inclusive platform for dialogue. We particularly would like to thank Mr. Sergey Kochetkov, Chief of Russian Section Interpretation Service, Department for General Assembly and Conference Management and Ms. Lotta Tähtinen, Chief of Outreach and Communications Branch Division for Sustainable Development, DESA for their invaluable support, expertise and collaboration in this process.

The positive outcome is a result of collaborative advocacy efforts among the International Disability Alliance and the Stakeholder Group of Persons with Disabilities, especially the accessibility working group with leadership from Elizabeth Lockwood (CBM International).