Young people with disabilities are among the most socially excluded and vulnerable people in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). They face high levels of poverty and discrimination and lack of access to basic services, particularly education and health. Youth with disabilities are often discounted as digital advocates. Yet for those with sensory or mobility disabilities, digital and mobile tools offer an ideal way of recording and sharing experiences, joining forces with peer groups and extending their voices well beyond their community boundaries. This project will seed a new network of disabled digital advocates across the oPt, who can track real- time incidents regarding accessibility and amplify that shared data set as an evidence-based for change.Young people with physical disabilities (YPWD) are among the most socially excluded and vulnerable people in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). They face high levels of poverty and discrimination and lack of access to basic services, particularly education and health. While there is a general recognition of the need for YPWD to access these services, the scale of the problem and the impact this has on young people’s lives is not being captured in any meaningful way. This allows ministers to pass the buck and prevents a proper assessment of the need and solutions. YPWD are often excluded from digital projects and generally lack the tools to push for accountability. Without a means to collaborate, they are forced to rely on those at the ministerial level who are responsible for their welfare and yet have consistently failed to enable better access. The impact of this is staggering - young people are not getting a proper diagnosis; living with painful, chronic problems that could be easily managed; facing exclusion from social and cultural life; and as each year goes by, another wave of youth are missing the crucial window for early intervention which could open doors for them for life.
This project will hand back control to the young people to raise the profile of the issues they face. It will make use of mobile tools ideal for those facing mobility issues and digitalise the evidence needed to push for change. Rather than having people to speak on their behalf, they will be trained to track the accessibility challenges as they come across in their daily lives - attitudinal and physical. They will connect with a mobile communication hub that will enable them to use SMS to document the moments when they face exclusion, recording both the factual and emotional information - how it feels and what would they like the solution to be. While giving them a dynamic means of recording these issues in real-time, they will be contributing to a new, easily navigable data set, while the training will offer communication skills to improve their employability.
The project will be supported by a new digital platform called ‘Access Denied’, which will act as a central space for the report and a means for interested visitors to ‘play’ with the information, filtering it by region, demographic group and access issues. Behind the platform a reporting system will use mobile gateways to connect the reporters to a message handler. Crucially, with this type of reporting, the hub anonymises personal data. Its ‘store and forward’ architecture guarantees message delivery which makes it ideal for low connectivity. Using SMS as a short form reporting tool makes it a highly efficient and affordable means of centralising information from a wide user network. The automation will allow it to sustain and scale.