Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a milestone document declaring the unchallengeable rights that everyone is inherently entitled to as a human being regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
We now live in a world that has become increasingly digital-first – access to digital devices and the internet is a key requirement in almost every part of our lives, everywhere we go.
For example, if you need to pay your taxes, you need to go online to do so; if you want to register to vote, check a train time table, or buy gifts this Christmas, you often need to be able to access the internet.
Internet access is a human right
UHDR reminds us that access to the internet is a human right according to the UN. And the idea that everyone should be able to access the web, regardless of any personal circumstances, like having a disability, is not something new.
When Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the web, he believed that it could help to empower all members of society and democratise media by making information accessible to everyone, everywhere.
“The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect…The Web is fundamentally designed to work for all people, whatever their hardware, software, language, location, or ability.
“When the Web meets this goal, it is accessible to people with a diverse range of hearing, movement, sight, and cognitive ability. Thus the impact of disability is radically changed on the Web because the Web removes barriers to communication and interaction that many people face in the physical world.
“However, when web sites, applications, technologies, or tools are badly designed, they can create barriers that exclude people from using the Web,” said Sir Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director.
Using Tech for Good to increase internet access
Recite Me is proud to sponsor the AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards and we also donate the Recite Me assistive toolbar to the awards website free of charge. To celebrates Human Rights, we think it’s a great moment to look at some of the Tech4Good Award winners, and how they are helping other people to access the internet to transform lives.
Jangala, which won the 2019 Tech4Good for Africa Award, was developed as an internet solution to help refugees living in the Jungle refugee camp in Calais. Since this first implementation, it has developed into a social enterprise to connect the most vulnerable in the world in order to reduce isolation, promote human rights, deliver education and improve life chances.
Praekelt.org, which won the 2017 Tech4Good for Africa Award, designs and develops mobile technologies to deliver essential information and vital services to more than 100 million people in over 60 countries. Over 1.3 million South African mothers are currently registered on a mobile platform it created called MomConnect, which is designed to share health information with expectant and new mothers to stop mothers and babies dying needlessly.
Chatterbox, which won the 2017 Community Impact Award, is an online and in-person language tutoring service, delivered and developed by refugees. It brings together refugee talent with people and organisations who need people with excellent language skills.
Ultimately, each of the Tech4Good Award winners above highlights how internet access is about humanity and how using the internet to access information, goods, and services can transform people’s lives. They are part of efforts across the globe to make a more inclusive and connected world, which Recite Me is proud to be part of.