Accessible ICTs and the Opening of Political Space for Persons with Disabilities

Lord, Janet E.

Societal exclusion of persons with disabilities from po liti cal life persists as a serious con temporary human rights challenge. Although information and communication technology (ICT) has the potential to pry open po liti cal space for persons who are isolated from po liti cal decision making in all sorts of ways, absent attention to ICT accessibility , additional barriers can be cre-ated and further entrench the exclusion of marginalized groups from po liti-cal engagement in their communities. For election prac ti tion ers, whether and how to use modern ICTs is a major focus of attention, particularly in re-gard to voter registration and identifi cation, e- voting, pro cessing of results, and the use of open- source technology in election administration. In some contexts, ICTs enhance effi ciencies in the electoral cycle, but ICTs can also introduce diffi cult challenges, including the adoption of inappropriate and inaccessible technologies and lack of qualifi ed staff to work with ICTs.