New JIU report on enhancing accessibility for UN conferences

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Geneva | JIU​

The Joint Inspection Unit (JIU) recently examined the current status of accessibility for persons with disabilities to large-scale, small-scale and offsite conferences and meetings organized by United Nations system organizations. The objective was to identify obstacles, impediments and good practices to enhance accessibility so that persons with disabilities can participate effectively.

The review’s key findings include:

  1. Formal policies on accessibility are lacking in most organizations but can be developed through utilization of existing guidance documents.
  2. In headquarters locations, most organizations are not providing many essential services to make meetings more accessible. Field office accessibility lags even further behind. For meetings at off-site locations, most organizations neither adequately monitor accessibility provisions, nor set minimum accessibility requirements.
  3. Persons with disabilities and their representative organizations expressed a low level of satisfaction with existing accessibility provisions and outlined a series of corrective measures.
  4. Various other deficits were identified in relation to internal capacity, coordination, knowledge-sharing and accountability on accessibility matters.
  5. Overall, progress towards mainstreaming accessibility as a cross-cutting issue in the work of organizations has been limited.

The review identifies key measures to address existing deficits, that include, among others:

  • Establishing accessibility centres;
  • Appointing disability and accessibility focal points;
  • Developing standard operating procedures for accessibility-related activities;
  • Proactively requesting information on accessibility needs and disseminating information on available accessible facilities and services;
  • Undertaking accessibility assessments of organizational facilities and services;
  • Incorporating accessibility considerations into procurement processes;
  • Systematically collecting data on accessibility, monitoring it and having performance indicators to measure it;
  • Reporting periodically on the state of accessibility to legislative bodies;
  • Utilizing inter- and intra-agency coordination mechanisms to share good practices;
  • Incorporating accessibility-related questions into staff surveys; and
  • Ensuring staff training on disability inclusion and accessibility matters.

The report contains ten recommendations directed at the General Assembly, other legislative bodies, and Executive Heads.