Excellencies, dear friends and distinguished colleagues,
A very good afternoon to you all.
We thank Ambassador Webson and Ambassador Chris Lu for their leadership on promoting this important agenda in the UN headquarters. We also thank the PGA for his kind present and remarks.
My delegation believes that the SDGs can only be achieved with the full participation of everyone, including persons with disabilities. Upholding the rights and ensuring the full inclusion of the world’s more than one billion persons with disabilities is a moral imperative. It is also a practical necessity if we are to build healthy, sustainable societies to the benefit of all people of all ages and abilities. The work of this steering committee is utmost critical, as at the United Nations, we must lead by example on inclusion and accessibility for the persons with disability.
In the UN, significant progress has been made in the area of physical accessibility, however, more needs to be done. Physical accessibly impediments in UN offices, including here at the headquarters, continue to pose a great challenge to the persons with disabilities. We need to make a thorough assessment to identify the obstacles that still persist.
We commend the Secretariat for installing power-assisted doors and creating a wheelchair-accessible entrance at street level to the UN building for people in wheelchairs. However, we underscore that there are no accessible after-hours delegates gate and wheelchair lift for access to the rostrum in the General Assembly Hall till date. Besides, there are no bathroom facilities or conference rooms that have automatic accessible doors.
We call for ensuring tactile flooring to assist someone using a white cane, clear audio guidelines on how to use the microphones and adequate lighting in some of the corridors. We also call for ensuring CART and International Sign interpretation for all meetings.
My delegation believes, along with physical accessibility, digital spaces must also be designed to be accessible by all. That includes the e-delegate platform, which is critical for registering speakers and uploading and downloading documents. And these physical and digital accessibility improvements must be made throughout the UN system, not just here in New York.
We consider innovative solutions such as assistive technology are critical to ensure accessibility and inclusion. In this regard, we can learn and adopt the best practices already used by the private sectors. We need to ensure that these technologies are available and affordable to all persons who are in need of them.
Dear friends and colleagues,
Bangladesh commends the steering committee for its work and would be happy to join the committee and support its work to fully realize its mandate. In this connection, we would like to mention that Bangladesh is the co-chair together with Antigua & Barbuda and Ireland of the ‘Group of Friends on Vision’ which aims to advance the issue of eye health within the context of the SDGs. We believe there are opportunities to complement each other’s work and advance the accessibility agenda in the UN more effectively.
I thank you all.