Equal access to the internet: a human rights analysis

by Paul Maharg on 16/04/2014

Cathy Easton, Lancaster U. (again) on the above.  80M disabled citizens of the EU and a further 87M EU citizens over 65 who cd benefit from a more accessible internet.  Only 39% of EU public sector websites at both a supra-national and domestic level reach an appropriate level of accessibility.  Tearing through the stats here, and difficulty for me to keep up in the welter of definitions and statutory materials; but the moral case for access she’s making seems to go beyond the European Accessibility Act (still to come into force?).  There’s been a lot of talk, but the public sector still hasn’t achieved acceptable levels.  EU Parl support for Directive on the accessibility of the public sector bodies’ websites.

UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities CRPD.  This was developed following a participatory model.  A rights-based approach?  A right of access to the internet, eg and tying it back to Art 19 UDHR?  CE quoted Brownsword and Goodwin (2012) – human rights will evolve with technological developments.  There are problems with this, she points out — is there or ought there to be, a right of access to internet.  I’d add two things — right to books?  Right to literacy in order to understand either books or internet?

She quoted the Charter of Human Rights on the Internet.  Underpinning right to all other rights is access to the internet.  Does this create problems…?  Is there a need for an overarching rights-based approach?

Not really a legal ed paper, but with obvious implications for legal educators and public education in the law.  I raised issues of access to books, and access to literacy, and discussion about that.  Actually the more I think about this, the more I think I was wrong: it was a legal ed paper, for the two issues she talked about (and it was a shrewd move to bring the two together) — accessibility and access  — go to the heart of the legal educational project, whether in institutions or in the wider domain of public legal education.

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