APrIGF 2022 Session Proposal Submission Form
Part 1 - Lead Organizer
Contact Person
Ms. Gunela Astbrink
Organization / Affiliation (Please state "Individual" if appropriate) *
ISOC Accessibility Standing Group
Economy of Residence
Primary Stakeholder Group
Civil Society
List Your Organizing Partners (if any)
Mr Satish Babu, Chair, APSIG.
Part 2 - Session Proposal
Session Title
Strengthening the disability voice in Internet Governance
Session Format
Panel Discussion
Where do you plan to organize your session?
Onsite at the venue (with online moderator for questions and comments from remote participants)
Specific Issues for Discussion
Accessibility for persons with a disability needs to be mainstreamed for a truly inclusive Internet.
There are far too few persons with disability with the broad skill set required to influence Internet policy formulation. By actively presenting the disability voice in Internet governance, increased awareness of accessibility should follow. Capacity-building is a key factor to making change.

Issues for discussion include:
How can a combination of online training and face-to-face interactive sharing of skills build such a disability voice?

How can these capacity-building skills be transferred to a wider group to stimulate more advocacy and achieve a more accessible online community?

How successful is such an approach? How will it be sustainable?

How can such a model be used in other regions? What adjustments should be made?

What role do other stakeholder groups have in supporting and mentoring persons with disability to be heard in Internet Governance?
Describe the Relevance of Your Session to APrIGF
This year’s theme is People at the Centre. People with disabilities form what some describe as the ‘world's largest minority’. According to WHO, over one billion have a disability globally. In the Asia Pacific, it is estimated that 650 million have a disability. There is much to be done for Internet services to be more accessible.

APrIGF wishes 'to ensure that all voices are treated equally in the multistakeholder decision-making processes'. This session will explore ways to support and mentor persons with disability to have a stronger voice in Internet Governance. Discussion will revolve around the role of Schools of Internet Governance in building knowledge and skills and the role of APrIGF in supporting the disability voice. A focus will be on APSIG with its partnership of ISOC’s Accessibility Standing Group as a unique initiative and example of inclusion. The majority of the session organisers and panelists have a disability. The session is an opportunity to have a dialogue of persons with disability with the wider Internet community about effective ways to take into account the disability voice. The expected outcome is to develop a model of capacity-building in disability leadership that may be used in national, regional and global settings.
Methodology / Agenda (Please add rows by clicking "+" on the right)
Time frame (e.g. 5 minutes, 20 minutes, should add up to 60 minutes) Description
5 minutes Introduction by co-moderators and setting the scene
3-4 minutes per panelist = 15 minutes High level comments by each panelist
30 minutes Co-moderators will stimulate discussion with panelists through set questions interspersed with ongoing encouragement of audience participation. One co-moderator will monitor virtual comments and questions.
10 minutes Final comments by panelists and summing up with key points by co-moderators
Moderators & Speakers Info (Please complete where possible)
  • Moderator (Primary)

    • Name: Gunela Astbrink
    • Organization: ISOC Accessibility Standing Group
    • Designation: Chair
    • Gender: Female
    • Economy / Country of Residence: Australia
    • Stakeholder Group: Civil Society
    • Expected Presence: In-person
    • Status of Confirmation: Confirmed
    • Link of Bio (URL only):
  • Moderator (Facilitator)

    • Name: Satish Babu
    • Organization: APSIG
    • Designation: Chair
    • Gender: Male
    • Economy / Country of Residence: India
    • Stakeholder Group: Technical Community
    • Expected Presence: In-person
    • Status of Confirmation: Proposed
    • Link of Bio (URL only):
  • Speaker 1

    • Name: Manique Gunaratne
    • Organization: Employers Federation of Ceylon
    • Designation: Manager
    • Gender: Female
    • Economy / Country of Residence: Sri Lanka
    • Stakeholder Group: Private Sector
    • Expected Presence: In-person
    • Status of Confirmation: Confirmed
    • Link of Bio (URL only):
  • Speaker 2

    • Name: Anju Mangal
    • Organization: APrIGF
    • Designation: Chair
    • Gender: Female
    • Economy / Country of Residence: Fiji
    • Stakeholder Group: Civil Society
    • Expected Presence: In-person
    • Status of Confirmation: Confirmed
    • Link of Bio (URL only):
  • Speaker 3

    • Name: Muhammad Shabbir Awan
    • Organization: ISOC Islamabad Chapter
    • Designation: Member Board of Directors
    • Gender: Male
    • Economy / Country of Residence: Pakistan
    • Stakeholder Group: Civil Society
    • Expected Presence: Online
    • Status of Confirmation: Confirmed
    • Link of Bio (URL only):
  • Speaker 4

    • Name: Vashkar Bhattacharjee
    • Organization: Young Power in Social Action (YPSA)
    • Designation: Focal Person (Disability)
    • Gender: Male
    • Economy / Country of Residence: Bangladesh
    • Stakeholder Group: Civil Society
    • Expected Presence: In-person
    • Status of Confirmation: Confirmed
    • Link of Bio (URL only):
Please explain the rationale for choosing each of the above contributors to the session.
Satish Babu is Chair of APSIG, is leading the APSIG initiative of a capacity-building program for persons with disability and Internet Governance. He won the Dr Tarek Kamel Award for Capacity-building in 2021.
Gunela Astbrink has been a disability advocate in the ICT and Internet community for 30 years and is Chair of ISOC’s Accessibility Standing Group. A main focus is to support emerging disability leaders. She facilitates the APSIG disability capacity-building project.
Manique Gunaratne manages a disability training centre through the Employers Federation of Ceylon and by September will have participated in phase 1 of capacity-building in Internet Governance.
Anju Mangal is Co-Chair of APrIGF and has a long-standing passion of cyber-safety for persons with disability. Anju has promoted accessibility initiatives in the Pacific. She brings the mainstream perspective to how to support the disability voice in Internet Governance.
Muhammad Shabbir Awan is an established disability leader in Internet Governance completing a term on the ISOC Board of Trustees. He will share his experiences and ideas as a leader.
Vashkar Bhattacharjee leads accessibility projects with the Bangladesh government. Phase 1 of the capacity-building in Internet governance for persons with disability takes place in Dhaka. He will outline how local participants experienced the training.
Please declare if you have any potential conflict of interest with the Program Committee 2022.
Are you or other session contributors planning to apply for the APrIGF Fellowship Program 2022?
APrIGF offers live transcript in English for all sessions. Do you need any other translation support or any disability related requests for your session? APrIGF makes every effort to be a fully inclusive and accessible event, and will do the best to fulfill your needs.
Sign language interpretation is needed. We appreciate efforts to make the APrIGF event accessible and will give feedback if any issues arise.
Brief Summary of Your Session
This year’s APrIGF with the theme of “People at the Centre’ had three sessions about disability issues. This was the largest number ever. It is a good reflection that 15% of any country’s population are persons with disability and the need to bring to the fore accessibility and inclusion for persons with disability.

The main concerning issue is the limited number of disability leaders in the Internet governance community.

The session concentrated on strategies to strengthen the disability voice.

The session was dynamic with stimulating discussion between the panelists together with comments and questions from attendees.
Substantive Summary of the Key Issues Raised and the Discussion
The session’s panelists discussed the small number of persons with disability with experience in bringing their voices to Internet governance debates. Disability leaders such as Josh Tseng, Vashkar Bhattacharjee, Dr Muhammad Shabbir, Manique Gunaratne and Gunela Astbrink are spread very thin in the IG space and cannot do everything needed to raise issues and share ideas of accessibility and inclusion.

The disability movement’s statement ‘Nothing about us without us’ was emphasised in the need for persons with the lived experience of disability to highlight accessibility barriers.

The key point of the discussion was the best way to build more disability leadership.

The panelists discussed the initiative through the partnership between the ISOC Accessibility Standing Group and APSIG. The first stage of this initiative was the successful pilot project in Bangladesh with participants from five South Asian countries to transfer capacity-building skills at the intersection of disability advocacy and Internet governance. If funding becomes available, the knowledge gained at the Dhaka workshop will be used as a basis for further workshops in six South Asian countries. A dedicated online training course will be developed with the support of the Internet Society.

A concrete outcome of the pilot workshop was the formulation and adoption of the Dhaka Declaration. This was a useful exercise in itself but most importantly, it provided a tool for further advocacy by workshop participants. It is gratifying to know that in late September, after many years of campaigning, the Marrakesh Treaty was ratified in Bangladesh enabling persons with print disabilities to enjoy accessible reading materials.

Session attendees raised a number of issues such as:
- ensuring persons with less common disabilities were not forgotten
- accessibility initiatives and technologies from countries in the region
Conclusions and Suggestions of Way Forward
It was recognised that gaining new disability leaders takes time both in building personal networks and understanding the complexities of the Internet governance community. Funding is needed to continue to mentor and support these emerging leaders.

From the Internet community perspective, an effort should be made to ensure that persons with disability are actively encouraged to participate. This can be done in a number of ways including the use of accessibility guidelines for onsite and online participation.
Reference was made to Josh Tseng’s presentation in the opening plenary where he stated that he wished it to be commonplace for a person with a disability to be a plenary speaker.

It is clear that the importance of champions such as Anju Mangal is vital. Anju, in her APrIGF speeches and presentations, often referred to persons with disability first when she reminded participants about inclusion. This builds awareness and needs to continue with current and future APrIGF leaders.

Vashkar Bhattacharjee was the first known person with a disability to be selected as an APrIGF Fellow. He had an impact that was evident in the Fellow’s presentations with ongoing references to accessibility and inclusion issues.
More Fellows with disability need to be selected at future APrIGFs with at least one place allocated to a person with a disability.
Inclusion and empowerment were the central aspects of this session and were discussed in the context of a stronger disability voice in Internet governance.
Number of Attendees (Please fill in numbers)
    • On-site: 45?
Gender Balance in Moderators/Speakers (Please fill in numbers)
  • Moderators

    • Male: 1
    • Female: 1
  • Speakers

    • Male: 2
    • Female: 2
How were gender perspectives, equality, inclusion or empowerment discussed? Please provide details and context.
Inclusion and empowerment were the central aspects of this session and were discussed in the context of a stronger disability voice in Internet governance.
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