Yahoo!’s Accessibility Evangelist shares his expertise at a joint WIPO-ITU workshop in Geneva, Switzerland

London-based accessibility evangelist Artur Ortega will speak at the Joint WIPO-ITU accessibility Workshop in Geneva on Tuesday, 2nd February to promote awareness of disability and accessibility. He will be available throughout the workshop to share his expertise with web developers within the United Nations system and other international organizations in Geneva to implement accessibility in their daily work.

Artur Ortega was invited by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) workshop organizers. The workshop is a joint effort with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) at the WIPO Headquarters for staff of the United Nations system and other International Organizations. You can view the program for the four days of the accessibility workshop here.


The background for this workshop is the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, which entered into force on May 3rd, 2008. Since then, many countries have ratified the convention and made it part of their national legislation.

In particular, Article 9 (g) and (h) of this Convention require that measures be taken to ensure that accessibility is taken into account in the design of new information technologies and systems.


The WIPO is quite active in promoting accessibility. For example, they explored in detail how the needs of persons with print disabilities can be better addressed through trusted intermediaries, new technologies, better formats, and improved "best practices" in the publishing industry.

Just recently, the members of the Standing Committee of the WIPO from Brazil, Ecuador, and Paraguay submitted a draft treaty as a formal proposal to facilitate access to copyrighted works for persons who are blind, have visual impairments, and other reading disabilities. Such a treaty attempts to solve the problems of both production and distribution of accessible materials for print disabled persons and makes this type of access an integral part of the international copyright system.

Unfortunately accessibility doesn't happen overnight. Such a possible international instrument was already described and recommended as a solution by WIPO and UNESCO almost 25 years ago - but only gained real momentum in the last few months.


Artur will raise awareness in his presentation of how many of the day-to-day items in our office are based on innovations by and for people with disabilities. The presentation shows how important accessibility and people with disabilities were, are, and will be for innovations for everyone. It's important to remember that without these essential innovations, today's publishing industry wouldn't be possible.