Declaration Commentary by Ann Cameron Williams

Include Us All in the Shiny Wired Fabric of the Cloud

By Ann Cameron Williams, Ph.D.

The disruptive role of technology as a global “cloud” platform is changing our lives. I think of it as an electronic shiny wired fabric, a new virtual terrain of human activity.  Because of this renaissance age of cloud technology, our lives and how we conduct them is changing radically from fifty years ago and will continue to change even more radically in the future.

How do people needing help with relationships, skill and knowledge acquisition, e-commerce and communication not only survive but thrive in this new renaissance age of technology? The question is relevant to you who are reading this and to every person on this planet as we are not a “one-size-fits-all” population. We change, over time.

How do people needing help with relationships, skill and knowledge acquisition, e-commerce and communication not only survive but thrive in this new renaissance age of technology? The question is relevant to you who are reading this and to every person on this planet as we are not a “one-size-fits-all” population. We change, over time.

The Declaration on The Rights of People to Access Information and Technology is a Thomas Jeffersonian document that declares people with cognitive disabilities have the right to be included in information access and technology. Not as an afterthought. Not as an option. It must be standard operating procedure. Technology companies and the developers of software and apps must consider the diverse span of communication needs in their products and work – and design them into their work as a foundational access option in order to keep all of us engaged as full members of society for the duration and circumstance of our lives. Otherwise, our global society risks losing a significant piece of human engagement in the areas of commerce, communication, and involvement in the cloud. As the infrastructure continues to be built, it is imperative that it builds in diversity in communication and interaction options now, otherwise this small window of time to include it within the structural foundations of the cloud will be closed. So we must act now.

The Arc of the United States, the largest federation of nonprofits serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), endorsed the Declaration because it stands for the full inclusion of people with diverse functional needs in information access and technology. But the aim of the Declaration serves us all. The Declaration trumpets an urgent message for the technology powers not to forget those of us who need larger words, simpler language, picture language, and more time to interface with and use the cloud.

This is why the Declaration is important to all of us. This is why the Declaration is important to you.

The Declaration needs to be understood and endorsed by all of us; activated in everyday thinking, technology design, application and adoption by society. So if you haven’t endorsed it, do so now.  It takes only a few minutes.  Then pass it on to your network.  Let’s all stand behind the Declaration and push it forward to full realization. Our commitment to this now will ensure that all of us – yes, including you - will be fully included in the shiny wired fabric of our cloud-based global society.

Ann Cameron Williams, Ph.D., is the Senior Executive Officer, Research and Innovations for The Arc of the United States in Washington, D.C.

Learn more about The Rights of People with Cognitive Disabilities to Technology and Information Access and relevant news.

View all Declaration Updates as they become available.