From the 13th –the 15th of June 2017 the 10th annual Conference of States Party to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities convened at the United Nations. I flew into New York City from the UK two days before the Monday introduction to the other student rapporteurs, volunteering responsibilities training at the UN and the meetings taking place as part of the June 12 Civil Society Forum.
Despite how quickly I had to adjust and get ready for the week ahead, the volunteer training was very informative and in addition to the instructions given by the volunteer coordinator; the Director of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the Division for Social Policy and Development (DESA/DSPD) Ms. Daniela Bas came to speak with us. It was great to see in real time how UN staff collaborate with one another and brainstorm with students about potential ways that educational programs, the next COSP, and the “UN family” (the UN and affiliated international organizations) can make their platforms more inclusive of the intersection of topic areas relevant to individual’s economic, social, and political life.
I had not been into the UN for three years- so it was wonderful to be there especially to participate in a conference on a very pertinent issue that is globally, personally and academically relevant!
I am focusing on the topic of how disability is approached within international development for my masters dissertation so I was excited that outside of the side events run by IDPP there were several other side events on a broader range of topics, issues, developments and technology than I could have anticipated all hosted by different organizations and chaired by panelists who were experts, persons with disabilities, business or international organization representatives.
Events I found particularly interesting were the IDPP, Monitoring and Evaluation of CRPD and SDG implementation using Big Data Analytics and Text Mining side event. Where the importance of the abundance data being created through the extensive usage of Internet platforms is a huge resource for data analysts to create user tailored (app) content that focuses on accessibility. Such as in private life – with the “AXS” app where other users can tell you which restaurants or public places- the creator Mr.DaSilva likened it to TripAdvisor. I also found the Deinstitutionalization side event hosted by YAI, a major resource as New York and Tri-state area disability service organization coordinators were in attendance and other professionals all dealing with the topic of transitioning people with intellectual disabilities out of institutionalized settings and how this might be done in different contexts. It was very informative, and heartening to hear what the next steps might be for ending the isolating reality of institutionalization.
Overall, it was wonderful to be able to attend the conference, hear about the newest innovations and developments in outlook, programs, and services for persons with disabilities across all walks of life and geographic locations. It was great to see that so much can get done when knowledge exchange is facilitated!
I also was pleased that as a student rapporteur, you were able to genuinely be a participant. If you were not helping that particular session or collaborating with another student with a session’s summary notes you were able to go to side event sessions of your choice, ask questions, meet leaders in the field face to face and hear about the latest research in the area of disability, which was invaluable.