Highlights and Entertainment News
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Empowering and creating Awareness
Years of Experience
Making a Difference
Fability News 2018
Gauteng News - February 2018Fability Financial Freedom Workshop in SandtonMaking an impact on people's lives comes effortlessly to Bernadette Rigney, her positive outlook on life will motivate you. Despite her physical limitations, she has proven herself to be a giant in her field. With her extensive marketing experience from working in the USA to the Fashion and Cosmetic Industry as well as Government, she shares advice and tips on how to reach your full potential in life and business. Since starting Fability, she has worked on global projects to share disability awareness through Media platforms and achieved remarkable results in breaking barriers.
Fability News 2017
Best Year Yet
Gauteng News - October 2017Bernadette Rigney receives the 2017 TRIBUTES Excellence Entreprenuer AwardTributes Excellence Awards honour Women with Disabilities 27 October 2017 The Valhalla Arts Tributes Excellence Awards 2017 took place at the stunning Velmoré Hotel and Spa in Pretoria last night at a spectacular Gala Event which included High Profile Government Delegates, Media Personalities and Corporates. There were 13 different categories, the Statuettes were awarded to phenomenal Women with Disabilities.
Gauteng News - October 2017Bernadette Rigney gets selected for the 2017 TRIBUTES Excellence AwardsA very exciting morning and start to the week. Valhalla Arts congratulates Bernadette Rigney for the selection as one of the women with disabilities that will be honoured at the 2017 TRIBUTES Excellence Awards Gala Dinner, she has been chosen to receive the TRIBUTES Statuette in the Media and Communications Category. The TRIBUTES Excellence Awards initiative involves identifying, profiling and celebrating high-profile women with disabilities that have left lasting legacies in various fields of society.
Global News - July 2017Jack Eyers is Mr England 2017, becomes the first amputee to win male pageantJack Eyers is Mr England 2017, becomes the first amputee to win male pageant. Mr Dorset 2017 Jack Eyers has been chosen as Mr England 2017 during a national finale held at Resorts World Birmingham, on July 14, 2017. He bested 24 other hopefuls to win title and succeed Mister England 2016 Chris Brahmel. Jack will now represent England in the next edition of Mr World. At the same event, Jack Heslewood was adjudged 1st Runner Up while Zac Oldershaw was declared 2nd Runner Up. Jack Eyers from Bournemouth, Dorset, who had his right leg amputated at the age of 16, was born with the degenerative condition Proximal Femoral Focal Deficiency (PFFD) which causes a deformed hip and a shortened leg. The 28-year-old and 6’2″ tall personal trainer and fitness model, Jack Eyers, is the first amputee to walk on New York Fashion Week in 2015 and also featured on Ninja Warrior. Apart from New York Fashion Week, he is the first amputee to walk fashion week in Milan and Moscow, and has performed in front of 80,000 people and the royal family at the 2012 Paralympic opening ceremony. He has been crowned Men’s Health’s Man of the Year.
Gauteng News - July 2017Fability launches its first Workshop in SandtonMaking an impact on people's lives comes effortlessly to Bernadette Rigney, whose laugh is infectious and whose positive outlook on life makes you smile. Born with a rare condition called Arthrogryposis, which affects the muscles and limits the range of motion in her hands and legs, she is no stranger to the challenges Persons with Disabilities experience in their everyday lives. Bernadette Rigney has extensive experience in multiple areas of Government, and spent a year working in the USA. She shares advice and tips on how to reach your full potential in life and business. Join this Motivating Workshop presented by Bernadette Rigney
Global News - June 2017Shezad Nawab receives his MBE from Prince CharlesDeaf businessman Shezad, from Birmingham has been awarded a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for services to business and diversity. 33-year-old Shezad Nawab, who lives in Dorridge in Solihull, received the honour from HRH the Prince of Wales at a special ceremony at Buckingham Palace. Since graduating from Birmingham City University in 2009 with a degree in Business and Marketing, Shezad has gone on to win entrepreneur and innovation awards, supporting start-ups and small businesses to grow through consulting. Shezad is also co-founder of Sfhere, specialists in expanding UK-based SME businesses into foreign markets. In 2014, Shezad was listed as one the most influential disabled people in business by Disability News Service. Born in Acocks Green in Birmingham, Shezad also makes frequent public speaking appearances on topics including business sustainability and risk management.
Gauteng News - January 2017The future for Architects with disabilitiesFability worked with LYT Architects during 2016. We are excited that LYT has officially launched their disability program. #Architecture #Disability #Inclusion An exciting moment for future Architect students with disabilities !!! Looking forward to another year of change. #Fability
International News - January 2017Fability Top 10 Most Influential 201601 Soneni Gwizi #HeartAndSoulAfrica
02 Jack Eyers #ModelMogul
03 Marciel Hopkins #healthnotsize
04 Zain Bulbulia #Inclusion
05 DJ Black Coffee #Authenticity
06 Jason Goliath #Compassion
07 Ashlinn Gray #Artist
08 Rudi Claase and Charne Hugo #DynamicDuo
09 Nicholas Goliath #Adventurer
10 Lebohang Monyatsi #AbilityRedefined
Fability News 2016
Building a sustainable Fability
National News - November 2016SABC launches Disability360Doug Anderson, SABC Radio 2000's senior content producer launches #Disability360 through the SABC Foundation. The Disability 360 platform is a "one stop shop" for disability content covered by ALL SABC Radio brands with content in 11 official languages. Through #Disability360, ALL SABC Radio brands have committed to giving airtime to disability each week. Follow the Social Media platforms and engage with the Team using the hashtag #Disability360
Facebook Page: SABCDisability360
International News - November 2016Congratulations to Soneni GwiziSoneni Gwizi wins the Award: Outstanding Human Rights Defender of the year award: Category - People With Disabilities !! Soneni shares: "Dear friends I take this moment to celebrate and thank you all for believing in my work. I have won an award with ZimRights for the Outstanding Human Rights Defender of the year award: Category - People With Disabilities. The awards ceremony will take place on Fri 25 Nov. I thank all my sources for allowing me to tell their untold stories and fight for justice through the Media. Disability rights are Civil rights! Let's continue to speak and fight for people with disabilities around the globe!"
National Events - October 2016Fability partners with SABC and the Gauteng Premier's Office for Transport Month for its second yearFability partnered with the City of Johannesburg for the Eco Mobility 2015 event, to address public transport challenges for persons with disabilities. We were joined by the Gauteng Office of the Premier, Celebrities with and without disabilities, various Media journalists, the team at SABC did live broadcasts on Radio 2000 throughout the day. We are extremely excited to join this year's #Adventures with the City, looking forward to seeing how the transport system has improved over the last year. 2016 Theme: CHANGE THE WAY YOU MOVE, WALK, CYCLE AND USE PUBLIC TRANSPORT
Awareness - September 2016Simone sends a personal message to all for Deaf Awareness MonthSeptember is National Deaf Awareness Month - a personal message of inspiration from Simone Botha Welgemoed - Former Miss Deaf South Africa and professional Ballet dancer "Frown and the world frowns at you, smile and the world smiles with you. If you find that they laugh at you, all it means is that you still have a job and responsibility to educate society about the hearing impaired. Lets raise awareness together and be confidently humble in our uniqueness as hearing impaired individuals. After all our disability is not an inability but a gift to share with the world that different is also beautiful." -- Simone Botha Welgemoed (The Purpose of Deaf Awareness Month is to increase awareness of deaf matters, people and culture. Activities and events throughout deaf awareness month encourages individuals to come together as a community for both educational events and celebrations.)
National News - August 2016Paralympian Samkelo becomes an Attorney of the SA High CourtGOLD medal Paralympian Samkelo Radebe (27) announced that he is an admitted attorney of the High Court of South Africa. Samkelo is famously known for winning a gold medal at the 2012 Paralympics for the 4x100m relay world record time of 41.78 seconds.
Celebrity Events - 30 July 2016Fability hosts #StormShowcaseFans of singing sensation Storm had the opportunity to meet the performer and listen to him perform live at The Venue on Saturday 30 July 2016 before he jets off to Nashville for the SuperXtar finale later this year. - See more at: https://fability.co.za/storm-showcase/#sthash.CYRiejLc.dpuf
National Events - 18 July 2016Fability celebrates #67Minutes with Storm, Samkelo and DylanIndividuals around the World did their bit for humanity for 67 Minutes on 18 July – Nelson Mandela Day. Team Fability participated in a few activities. We started off the Day in the centre of Johannesburg with City Officials, Students from the University Of Johannesburg (UJ) and the Ward 60 Councillor Akube Nokuthula. Storm performed the National Anthem after giving a heart warming speech. The Team then began the 'City at Work' clean up initiative. We then got into our vehicles and headed to surprise the children at Letsie Primary School in Tsakane Township. The children including teachers reactions towards Storm, Samkelo and Dylan was beyond inspiring. Thank you to everyone for making Mandela Day such a great day.
Global Events - 08 May 2016Fability participates at the Wings for Life World RunJOHANNESBURG – The Wings for Life World Run has raised almost R112 million in funds for spinal injury research, with over R575,000 raised in the South African segment of the race.
Fability Models South Africa - 15 April 2016Fability Models first appearanceCharne Hugo and Rudi Claase invited the Fability Models to the Lieflinge Live Performance. This spectacular live performance is a must see.
Hope Mandeville Career Expo - 13-14 April 2016Fability participates at the Fifth Annual Career ExpoFability participated at the Fifth Annual Career Expo by Mandeville and Hope School. The guests included Fability Models, Gauteng Premier's Office and Singer Charne Hugo.
Many matriculants, graduates with disabilities struggle to identify career possibilities after school and so the Career’s Day allows career providers such as SMEs, Government Departments, SETAs and many Corporates to showcase their career opportunities. The two day allowed learners to explore different opportunities that are available to them within their respective physical and functional constraints.
Fability Models South Africa - March 2016Caleb Swanepoel features on the cover of MPSACaleb Swanepoel, Mr MPSA 2016 features on the cover, download the March edition for FREE at www.mpsamag.com
Fability Models South AfricaCaleb Swanepoel wins the MPSA Overall Title 2016Madelain Roscher: "After months of planning Miss, Mrs & Mr MPSAmag, our inaugural event today was a great success! Thank you to each contestant who was brave enough to boldly walk our stage! Whether you won or not, I thought you were incredible and I take my hat off to you! Thank you to every spectator for supporting your own and others, especially those who didn't have their own families in the crowd. Thank you to our sponsors including The Venue Melrose Arch, HiPix Photographic Jason Worrall, The Make-Up Issue , Sa College of Beauty , Hair and Health, Hines & Harley Men's Grooming Lounge, Make-Up, Miglio, Potch Academy, Cavalier, The Gentleman's Store, Atkins, Lydia Tamsen, Kyna Consili, Rubicon Clothing, Maryke Van Rensburg, Eugene Bowles, and all our prize sponsors, our esteemed MCs John Owens and Ashanti Mbanga our professional judges Riana Mooi, Werner Wessels, Wayne Stafford, Shannon Roscher and Shajar Khan, an incredible PR Worx and MPSA team for putting it all together and for DeskBags for the incredible job you do daily. Finally, congratulations to Caleb Swanepoel, our newest DeskBags ambassador and overall winner of the MPSA pageant, we look forward working with you to make a significant difference in South Africa xx"
International Events - 14-17 January 2016Joburg Golf Open 2016 – FabilityThe Fability Team pulls off yet another successful collaborative Event!! Four days of planning, branding getting Celebrities, Sportsmen on board. For the World Class #JoburgOpen10
Fability News 2015
Our first Year
Breaking BoundariesFability Models SA contestants to enter the MPSA Mag competition!!!We are so excited to announce that Fability Models SA contestants will be entering the amazing MPSA Mag competition.
Inclusive, dynamic and a massive opportunity in the modelling industry !!
We will be revealing all the exciting news soon ... keep up with us!
Government support to improve Public TransportTransport Month Campaign: Eco Mobility 2015Tuesday, the 20th of October 2015 SABC News, Radio 2000 and members of the Office of the Premier, City of Johannesburg, Gauteng Department of Transport, Gautrain, Rea Vaya, Fability as well as a number of celebrities with disabilities embarked on a ride in support of Transport Month, to showcase the efficiency of our public transport system and how disabled friendly it is. All participants gathered at SABC Radiopark from 07:15am to Pretoria Hatfield and back via Sandton to SABC using Rea Vaya and Gautrain.
The journey was followed point to point by Radio 2000 and SABC News from start to finish.
Music Release 2015Fability Song Title: Time Will Wait - Charne Hugo released !!An inspirational story of persons with disabilities aims to change the conventional idea of beauty. We speak to CEO of Fability Bernadette Rigney, singer Charne Hugo and TV and Radio personality Terry Ann Adams.
Pocast and link to Charne's song on Jacaranda:
International Exposure 2015Fability Models SA recognised Internationally !!Fability Models SA is featured on the Models of Diversity Website www.modelsofdiversity.com !!
We are so excited and ready to show that our South African contestants are ready to take on the International Modelling Industry.
Thank you to MOD UK for the support!
Music Release 2015Fability Song Title: Time Will Wait - Charne Hugo to be released soonThe announcement we've been waiting to share !!!
SHOUT SA did it for our children's Education and a Safer SA
FABA did it for Anti Bullying
aaaannd FABILITY does it for People with Disabilities
We have a Song!!!
Title: Time Will Wait - Charne Hugo (The Fability song) written by Helmut Meijer and Sven Blumer
Stay tuned for the release date and interviews...
Awards 2015Tributes of Excellence Award winner for Media and CommunicationsCongratulations to Terry-Ann for winning the Tributes of Excellence Award in Media and Communications!! So unbelievably proud!
@ta4short: Last night at the Tributes Awards. I received an award for excellence in media and communications. #media #awards #achievements #model #fability #fashion
Music Video 2015FABA Foundation music video "Heroes" by Daniel Baron featuring Morne Marias, Terry-Ann Adams and Bernadette RigneyFability took part in the making a music video with dashingly handsome Morne Marais: Mr SA Runner Up and South African signer Daniel Baron.
Morne "Daniel Baron is a guy that does not only have amazing songs but believes in the hearts of people and making a difference. He has written a song for FABA Foundation called Heroes and preformed it live at the #DressTheStars Brands Luv U "BLU" event last night. A song that is helping to fight against bullying and abuse."
Thank you for standing up and speaking out Daniel, Morne and beautiful Terry-Ann. Making a difference!
Technology - 12-14 June 2015Drive and Thrive 2015 Clarkson, Hammond and May Live“What an honour it was to have been part of this exciting, awesome, adrenaline filled and fun 3 Day Event! The cars, crowd, team, organizers … simply a World Class affair, by far the Event of 2015.” Says Bernadette
Director of fAbility: Bernadette Rigney has been involved in the Annual Drive & Thrive Events over the last three years. "Joining the Drive & Thrive Team alongside the Top Gear Team this year was such a huge honour. As the Event kicked off, it was heartwarming seeing this diverse Event unfold, where everyone who attended was simply for the love of cars, adrenaline and stunts. There was no disability or ability, we all equally enjoyed the weekend." She says.
fAbility is known for adding a dash of glamour to any type of Event. They certainly did just that. Starting off the week on Monday 08 June 2015 was South African Singer: Danny K, by announcing the two wheelchair ticket winners on Radio Today the Cavall's World Show.
Friday 12 June 2015 - Day 1: Wheelchair ticket winners: Solomon Sedibane and Andy Smith attended the Clarkson, Hammond and May Live Show featuring Stuntman Ken Block. fAbility invited City of Johannesburg's Communications: “Guru” Gaynor Noyce.
Saturday 13 June 2015 - Day 2: South African Power Couple, Weez SA Rapstar and Chantelle Swart: Mrs South Africa 1st Princess & Mrs World contestant and Helga Barkhuizen: Miss South Africa International 2012 and Serial Entrepreneur joined the Event.
Sunday 14 June 2015 - Day 3: Dylan Da Silva attended the final day of the Event. The Paralympic Athlete is an inspiration, this young man has grabbed South Africa’s attention with his determination to conquer any goal, any adventure with no limitations.
The Clarkson, Hammond and May Live Event at Ticketpro Dome was the place to be for all. Everyone, from the Celebrity Guests to the organizers and audience had a great time.
#Mobility #Technology #Stunts #Celebrities #Athletes #ProudlySA #Drive&Thrive2015 #fability
Awards 2015Beautiful Face of Fability Terry-Ann Adams grabs the attention of allCONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR SELECTION FOR THE TRIBUTES 2015 EXCELLENCE AWARDS
Valhalla Arts congratulates Terry-Ann on her selection as one of the women with disabilities that will be honoured at the three-day TRIBUTES 2015 Excellence Awards event which will be held in Mangaung, Free State the from 26 – 28th August 2015. She has been chosen to receive the TRIBUTES Statuette in the Media & Communications Category!!
The TRIBUTES initiative involves identifying, profiling and celebrating high-profile women with disabilities that have left lasting legacies in various fields of society.
International Interview 2015fAbility: JT Foxx Article (Full article - I.D.E.A.L Magazine USA)Bernadette Rigney, Director of fAbility spends a day with JT Foxx after meeting him at the National Achievers Congress.
We chatted Virtual Conferencing, Disability and employment. A message to SA's Youth and to Parliament Leaders, added by a dash of fun questions, getting to know JT Foxx.
"You will be pleasantly surprised to hear what JT's views are. Great day, amazing guy and definitely a fAbility Icon!" says Bernadette
Empowerment - 22 & 23 April 2015The fourth Annual Hope-Mandeville Careers ExpoThe fourth iteration of this important annual event was held at Hope School in Westcliff on 22 & 23 April 2015. Thirty-one exhibitors interacted with three hundred and ninety-eight scholars with a disability, one hundred and twenty-one of whom will matriculate this year. Big Businesses, Government, SETAs, SMEs, Placement Agencies, Higher Education, Training & Development, as well as Disability Associations were numbered among the exhibitors. The event, a joint venture between Mandeville Disability Swimming Club and Hope School. fAbility had a stand - In collaboration with the City of Johannesburg, Future CEO, DWDE and Recruitment Agencies. fAbility always adds a dash of spectacular at any Event / Expo, our Celebrity Guests included Armand du Plessis: Mr South Africa, Helga Barkhuizen: Founder of the “Yes You Can” initiative, the World’s first Disability Talent Show. Helga represented South Africa at the highest beauty platform as Miss South Africa, during the Miss International pageant. She featured articles in Forbes Africa Women and Forbes Africa magazines (2014), presenting at women empowerment and business success conferences for the likes of JT Foxx.
Empowerment - 25 March 2015SEDA / Fability Entrepreneur SeminarRed Silk Tree Media – SEDA / Fability Entrepreneur Seminar 25 March 2015
The SEDA Disabled Entrepreneurs Seminar 2015 event today in Cape Town at Brideways, Ratanga Junction was phenomenal!!!!!
Bernadette Rigney, founder and director of Fability: Lifestyle Guide just WOWED me with her in-depth knowledge of policies and legislation around disabilities! To all my journalist friends who are at the forefront of media for breaking news…if you need to understand policies and legislation around disability issues and know what is happening, and how South Africa is pioneering discussion and debate in this space, Bernadette is your go to person! Mogamat Reza Gallant of Shanduka Black Umbrellas inspired me with his knowledge and understanding of the path entrepreneurs walk. Young, up and coming entrepreneurs, and those of you who dream of starting your own enterprise, check Shanduka out for information resources.
Thank you so much SEDA for an amazing, inspiring event!
Jabulile S Ngwenya
Red Silk Tree Media
Fability News 2014
Part of our 'Love Fability' initativeSportsmen to participate on the day #ProudlySA Working together for great causes #fability“WOMEN WITH A CAUSE, ON A DRIVE TO SURVIVE” (SLOGAN)
The Noordien Foundation is an Organization that is determined to unite all the NPO/NGO’s in the space of abused women and children. Nicole Noordien de Klerk, daughter-in-law of former President F.W de Klerk and Nobel peace prize lauriette together with our beloved Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, has taken the initiative to assist all NGO/NPOs in Gauteng to help eradicate abuse against women and children. The Noordien Foundation was established in 2005 with the intention of setting up shelters for abused women and children whilst at the same time creating a lifestyle brand that will employ, upskill and empower all women that are associated with abuse. The official launch of the Foundation will be held on the 4th of December 2014 at the Orlando Towers in Soweto, Gauteng. We will be taking a leap of faith to show our seriousness in regards to abuse. We encourage and would like to invite all the members of NPO/NGOs that works in the space of abused women and children to communicate with us, as we would like for them to come to the launch in support of our initiative to unite them all and start working together as a whole. True and realistic impact will only be created if we all stand united and speak with one ROAR of a voice. This will also give them the opportunity to expose themselves as we know that most of these organizations are based in communities that no-one is aware of and we can only assist and support them if we know who they are. We would like to encourage and challenge all of Gauteng’s top sportsman to participate and show their support by taking the leap off the Orlando Towers in support of this much needed initiative. Without our REAL men, we cannot survive, either. We would also like to encourage and challenge Corporate Companies to show their support by purchasing bunjee jumps and scad falls for the numerous sportsman who dares to care. It is therefore that we would appreciate if you could award us an insert in your newspaper over the next month to invite all the NPO/NGO’s to attend this event and also to challenge all the Sportman and Corporates to participate and show their support. Your co-operation and support would be in the best interest of all abused women and children of this beautiful Country of ours. We are all Proudly South African and will not tolerate such behavior in our beautiful Country.
Join fAbilityRed Silk Tree Media - fAbilityWe live in a World where everything revolves around Social Media and in which we obsess over who's who on TV, who wears the most trendiest clothes, who earns more, and so on.
But is there an interactive Website / Page / TV show that changes your point of view on matters? Is there a show that warms your heart and makes you want to do more, or a show sharing information on how to improve your daily living, whether it is motivational or innovative? fAbility is a Company that includes the input and suggestions from all. What would you enjoy hearing about?
Please share your ideas with Bernadette Rigney, founder of fAbility, a Business and Lifestyle Guide that assists Companies to reach their Employment Equity targets and comply with the Constitutional Acts for Reasonable Accommodation. fAbility provides a wide range of services to Persons with Disabilities, Businesses, Individuals and Non Profit Organizations.
In addition to these services, fAbility conducts Motivational Talks and provides Event Management services alongside South Africa's finest Celebrities, MCs and Speakers.
24 October 201427 Celebrities Photoshoot at the Joburg TheatreGlamorous 27 Celebrities and Change Agents – Our World Photoshoot – 24 October 2014
The Our World Photoshoot brought 27 South African Celebrities and Change Agents together in a photographic extravaganza that took place on 24th of October 2014, at the Joburg Theatre in Braamfontein. Top South African designers, Pronovias Michelangelo Towers (Sandton) and City Chic Sandton City provided garments to the amount of R150 000-00, while International Photographer, Kevin Mark Pass was behind the camera. Hair and make-up by Tiffany Wilson and Alek Daray.
“The photoshoot featured Change Agents and Representatives of several goodwill initiatives.” Says Burgess: “It was my privilege to witness each of these people going beyond the call of duty and giving of themselves to the community. I’ve been fortunate to either work with these amazing individuals, give my time to their causes or interview them on my radio show.”
Bernadette Rigney: Director of fAbility (Pty) Ltd, a company that combines fabulousness with doing good to create a better World, chose top, internationally recognized designers, make-up artists, hairstylists and photographers for the shoot.
09 August 2014Casual Day City Challenge 2014PRESS RELEASE: Casual Day ambassador challenges SA cities to Bring out the Bling
Casual Day ambassador Bernadette Rigney has challenged all employees of city metros all over the country to participate in Casual Day by wearing their sticker and stepping out in style. As the former Transformation and Disability Awareness Officer, City of Johannesburg, she is now campaigning for the advancement for the rights of persons with disabilities.
07 August 2014Women's Day 2014A visit to the Sunshine center always brings lots of smiles. To Michael and his team who take care of these children with special needs, you are a credit to our community. Remember to support Casual day on the 5th September. Buy your sticker for just R 10.00 to show your support for children living with disabilities.
31 May 2014Drive and Thrive Annual Expo 2014Drive and Thrive Annual Expo 31 May 2014: The Disability Drive and Thrive Interactive Exhibition is the event where ideas are shared, products are showcased, vehicles are test driven, wheelchairs are left standing empty while the users are having fun, the impossible seems to happen and loads of fun is had by all! It will change your perception of disability, where the boundaries get moved and limitations get challenged! This successful Event took place a Swartkops Airforce Base.
InnovationPromise of technology for persons with disabilitiesTechnology advances have changed the way people live. But not all people have benefited equally, due to limited accessibility, social and economic barriers. To discuss the promises of new technology for persons with disabilities and other topics related to the upcoming International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3 December, DESA News met with Daniela Bas, Director of UN DESA’s Division for Social Policy and Development. Throughout human history, new and changing technologies have impacted on the way people live. Today, it is built in to nearly every part of daily living, from work, consumer goods, to recreational activities and social interactions. Information and communications technologies have also dramatically increased connectivity between people and their access to information, further helping to raise living standards. For the 1 billion people living with some form of disability around the world, technological advances that could enhance inclusion, such as Apps on smart phones, interactive whiteboards in the classroom and 3-dimensional films can be a challenge to access. In spite of being the world’s largest minority group, persons with disabilities have remained largely invisible in mainstream development frameworks and its processes. The UN General Assembly continues to reiterate accessibility as a means and a goal for inclusive, sustainable development and as key for empowering and including all persons in the future development efforts. “A lot has been achieved,” said Daniela Bas, as she described the situation across the globe for persons with disabilities. “I would say that we have to encourage people with disabilities themselves and the remaining part of the society, be it that we are talking about governments that decide about social policies, be it that we talk about other groups of the civil society, of academia,” Ms. Bas said, emphasizing that the situation for persons with disabilities still needs to be improved. Citing the UN Secretary-General, Daniela Bas also underscored the role of new technologies in moving towards a society where no one is left behind, a topic which will also be highlighted during the upcoming celebrations on 3 December. “There are going to be so many events and panel discussions with people from governments, NGOs, the private sector, to showcase what they are doing by using new technologies to enable everybody to be able,” Ms. Bas explained. Accessibility and its benefits to us all: What do we mean by accessibility? Think of an App on a Smartphone. It is likely that the App has certain design characteristics, such as an attractive visual layout, state-of-the-art features and touch-screen elements, which deliver an appealing and sought after service. Now imagine a person with a visual impairment – an individual who may struggle to access this App, to appreciate its visual layout and its interactive features. While being advanced in its features, the App world, and certainly other technological advances, may not cater to all persons in society. Accessibility is best defined as flexibility to accommodate each user’s needs and preferences. While the design of accessible technologies ought to cater for all individuals in society, it is important to note that the accessibility of such information and communications technologies does not automatically diminish the opportunities for others to enjoy the ease and flexibility of using such goods or services. Accessibility should therefore be identified as a set of global public goods, which are not a defined to benefit a particular group in society, but rather, to be accessible to all on a local, national and global level. The improvements to physical and service infrastructure that come with a focus on accessibility also encourage a more multigenerational focus in development planning. In time, the youth population of today will have inevitably matured. Imagine the European population: by 2050 the number of people over 65 will be 3 times what it was in 2003, and the over 80 age group will be 5 times greater in number. Accessibility is an important aspect of realizing the rights of the world’s aging population; with age, the chances of acquiring a permanent or temporary disability increases. A focus on accessibility can therefore ensure that all are able to participate fully in society well into the older years. Realizing the rights of persons with disabilities often requires policy interventions and the implementation of measures to remove barriers and provide reasonable accommodation in order to ensure their equal access and full participation.
“Let’s unite the different skills we have, to find solutions, to make society accessible to everybody”