The right to access the same digital content at the same time and at the same cost as people without disabilities is implicit in several human rights instruments and is featured prominently in Articles 9 and 21 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Visiting Professor of Law and Executive Director of the Harvard Law School Project on Disability Michael Ashley Stein ’88, an internationally acclaimed expert on disability law and policy, tackles the global issue of equal access to information in his book “Disability, Human Rights, and Information Technology,” co-edited by Jonathan Lazar, professor of Computer and Information Sciences and Director of the Undergraduate Program in Information Systems at Towson University. They discussed their work in a talk that was part of Harvard Law School’s Library Book Talk series last fall.
The authors observed that despite the ready availability and minimal cost of technology to enable people with disabilities to access information and communications technology (ICT) on an equal footing as consumers without disabilities, prevailing practice around the globe continues to result in unequal access. Questions and complexities may also arise where technologies advance ahead of existing laws and policies, where legal norms are established but not yet implemented, or where legal rights are defined but clear technical implementations are not yet established.
As part of a bicentennial HLS in the Community event on April 20, Stein will discuss the Harvard Law School Project on Disability (HPOD). In a talk titled “Enabling the World through Disability Rights,” Stein will join HLS Lecturer on Law Alonzo Emery ’10, associate director of East Asian Legal Studies; Fengming Cui, director, China Program, Project on Disability; and Haben Girma ’13, disability rights advocate, in a conversation about successes and challenges in the Harvard Project on Disability’s multi-prong approach to advancing the rights of people with disabilities around the world.
In addition to serving as executive director of HPOD, Stein is also the Extraordinary Professor at the University of Pretoria Faculty of Law, Centre for Human Rights. He was formerly a professor at William & Mary Law School, and he has taught at NYU and Stanford Law School. Stein participated in the drafting of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, works with disabled persons organizations around the world, actively consults with international governments on their disability laws and policies, and advises a number of United Nations bodies.
Lazar is a professor of computer and information cciences at Towson University, where he has been on the faculty since 1999, and has served as director of the undergraduate program in Information Systems since 2003. Lazar also founded the Universal Usability Laboratory at Towson University and served as director from 2003-2014.
The Harvard Law School Library’s book talk series features faculty authors from various disciplines who share their research and discuss their recently published books with a panel of colleagues and the Harvard Law community.