Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments

Building plans; Conversing with ASL; Woman using wheelchair nears moving sidewalk; Children using computer at Community Centre; Person reading Braille

Welcome to the Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments

GAATES is the leading international organization dedicated to the promotion of accessibility of the built and virtual environments, with an International presence and membership in six regions: the Asia-Pacific, Arab, North America, South America, European and African Regions.

If you would like more information on GAATES, the GAATES in Profile - 2013 booklet is available for download (4.2 MB).

FRAUD WARNING: If you are contacted by any individuals indicating that GAATES is operating a humanitarian mission, and/or that they are being denied their allowance and/or housing coverage, please report this person to, and do not assist this person. They are fraudulently using the GAATES name. GAATES does not operate humanitarian missions or provide financial assistance of any kind.


The Annual Meeting of The Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments (GAATES) will be held on

Sunday October 19, 2014
8:30-9:30 a.m. EDT

Montreal, Quebec, CANADA
Location to be Announced

Please confirm your availability at your earliest convenience by replying with your RSVP to the Secretary or President. GAATES by-laws allow members to attend via electronic means. Therefore, for those unable to attend in person you may participate by Skype or other electronic means to be determined. Please advise us by October 10, 2014 if you wish to attend by Skype, (and please indicate your Skype name so that we may invite you).

Please note: only board members are eligible to vote.

Please advise the GAATES Executive Officer - Marnie Peters if you have any requirements for the information to be provided in an alternate format and/or if you require other accommodations for participating in the GAATES meeting.

The draft Agenda is available for viewing.

GAATES Partners with the Zero Project

The Zero Project - For a World Without Barriers, officially launched in 2011 by the Essl Foundation, advocates the rights of persons with disabilities internationally. With its global outreach, the Zero Project monitors the national implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and highlights innovative practices and policies. The project is organised in partnership with the World Future Council and the European Foundation Centre.

The vision of the Zero Project is to work for a world without barriers, according to the principles and Articles of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). It does so by researching Innovative Practices and Innovative Polices worldwide that help to improve the lives of persons with disabilities, as well as researching social indicators that measure the implementation of the UN CRPD and the current situation in all countries of the world.

The 2014 Report of the Zero Project revealed "dispiriting results on emergency issues." In recognition of this fact, GAATES in collaboration with the Zero Project is looking for innovative practices and policies that relate to Emergency Preparedness and Disability Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction (DiDRR).

These practices and policies will be presented at the 2015 Zero Project Conference in Vienna, Austria alongside practices and policies pertaining to the Zero Project's own streams on Independent Living and Political Participation.

While recognizing the collaborative partnership of the Zero Project, GAATES is fully responsible for the DiDRR stream, including the preparation and distribution of the nomination form, the review and research of the nominations, and the development and presentation of the results report. GAATES will be using the Zero Project processes, evaluation system, reporting protocols and communication tools.

We welcome you to download the Disaster Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction (DiDRR) nomination and instruction documents from this website. You can also get these forms, as well as the nomination and instruction forms related to the Independent Living and Political Participation streams at the Zero Project website’s download page.

Who can nominate a practice or policy?

Everyone can nominate a practice or a policy, including experts from the academic, public, private, and non-profit sector. Self-nominations are possible as well. Please note, however, that laws, regulations or public policies cannot be nominated by the responsible government, parliament, or administration.

Roundtable Discussion on Disability-Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience

You are invited to attend the 2nd UN DESA Forum on Disability and Development Roundtable Discussion on Disability-Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience to be held at the 7th Session of the Conference of States Parties to the UN CRPD

Wednesday June 11th 2014 from 1:15 - 3:00 p.m.
Conference Room 5 (CR5)
The North Lawn Building (TNLB)
UN Headquarters - New York, NY

The Roundtable Discussion on Disability-Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience is being facilitated by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) in close collaboration with the Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations, UNISDR, UNESCAP, Rehabilitation International, The Nippon Foundation, Japanese Disability Forum, and the Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments (GAATES).

The DESA Forum Roundtable discussion will aim to highlight a variety of perspectives on disaster resilience and disability, in order to help all major stakeholders and partners, especially policy makers, disability and DRR professionals, partners and advocates: take a stock of progress made so far, share experiences and discuss options and ways forward on incorporating the perspectives and needs of persons with disabilities.

Roundtable Discussion

(moderated by UNDESA)

  • Segment 1: issues and challenges
  • Segment 2: Knowledge, good practices, promising solutions - what works in helping the building of a disability inclusive risk-resilient strategy and community - both policy and practices
  • Segment 3: Ways forward: towards a disability inclusive HFA2:
  • Segment 4: Q&A and interactive dialogue
  • Segment 5: Closing

GAATES Founder and Past President Betty Dion

will be speaking in both Segments 2 and 3, and will be an active participant in the Q&A and interactive dialogue.

Captioning and American Sign Language interpretation will be available.

Zero Project Conference on Accessibility

Several members of GAATES will be participating in the upcoming Zero Project Conference on Accessibility: Innovative Policies and Practices for Persons with Disabilities, 27-28 February 2014 in Vienna, Austria.

The Conference is a collaborative effort of the Essl Foundation, the World Future Council and the European Foundation Centre, who have joined forces to convene this conference to raise awareness about innovative solutions from around the world that advance accessibility for persons with disabilities. The conference seeks to strengthen the commitment of all stakeholders to promote, protect and advance the rights of persons with disabilities, and to improve their daily lives.

The Zero Project Report 2014 on Accessibility has just been released. For more information, see the Zero Project Press Release in: English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Russian, Arabic, and Chinese


The Arctic is currently experiencing massive transformation. The very real and immediate impacts of climate change, a rapid increase in industrial activity, and a growing influx of southern and foreign workers to previously isolated communities and regions are all contributing to an increased risk of natural and human-made disasters. Blizzards, fires, floods, power and infrastructure failures, food shortages, oil spills and epidemics, all represent real, immediate and serious threats to Northern communities. Read more about the On Thin Ice project...

GAATES Presents Survey on Accessible Transport Around The World At AEI's 15th Roundtable on Accessible Transportation.

Tom Rickert speaking at an accessible transportation event

Tom Rickert, Executive Director of Access Exchange International (AEI) and GAATES Board member, presenting to the group at the Access Exchange International (AEI) and the International Center for Accessible Transportation (ICAT) 15th annual event on accessible transportation in less-wealthy countries.

The roundtable is cosponsored by Access Exchange International (AEI) and the International Center for Accessible Transportation (ICAT). This event, with its focus on accessible transportation in less-wealthy countries, is now in its 15th year. One "first" in this series is the different perspectives provided on accessibility and inclusive design of Mexico City's Metrobús, one of the world's largest bus rapid transit systems.

Ann Frye at an accessible transportation even

Access Exchange International (AEI) and the International Center for Accessible Transportation (ICAT) 15th annual event on accessible transportation in less-wealthy countries. Sitting on the immediate right is Ann Frye, GAATES 2nd Vice President and Chair of GAATES´┐Ż Accessible Transportation Committee.

GAATES board member, Tom Rickert, AEI's Executive Director kindly invited GAATES' Accessible Transportation Committee Chair Ann Frye and GAATES' Andres Balcazar to the annual roundtable on Accessible Transportation.

Urban mobility, including a bigger emphasis on accessible transportation and pedestrian infrastructure is becoming a trend in many regions of the world. Ann Frye, GAATES 2nd Vice President and Chair of the GAATES Accessible Transportation Committee presented on the GAATES Survey On Accessible Transport Around The World. Andres Balcazar, GAATES staff, presented an overview of accessible transportation in Mexico and Janett Jimenez, GAATES Country Representative in Mexico, spoke about the use of tactile warning surface indicators and tactile signage at BRT Metrobus Line 5 in Mexico City.

Other topics covered during the meeting were accessible transportation in Hyderabad, Indonesia and Europe's Car-Adaptation Protocol Initiative (CAPI).

The GAATES survey was very well received as it highlights common barriers around the world for making public transit more accessible to persons with disabilities. GAATES is currently developing strategies for taking advantage of the survey's outcomes and assisting countries and organizations around the world remove barriers to service for public transportation users.

Survey of local transport needs reveals priorities for GAATES Members

Many thanks to all the GAATES members who took the time to complete our on-line survey late last year about your problems with local transport and your priorities for improvement.

We had over 250 responses from 39 countries and the report setting out the findings is available here. Read more...

GAATES Presents at WWW HLFS:
ICT and Media Inclusion of Women, Girls and People with Disabilities

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada - October 29, 2013

WWW Hanoi

HANOI, VIETNAM: The Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments (GAATES) presented in the Women With the Wave High-Level Forum Series: Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Media Inclusion of Women and Girls and People with Disabilities, October 23-24, 2013, Hanoi.

GAATES President - Mukhtar Al Shibani and Vice President - Aqeel Qureshi, presented on Inclusive ICT, Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Early Warning Systems for people with disabilities.

The Forum was organized by Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and was hosted by Vietnam Television (VTV), as part of the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union General Assembly & Associated Meetings (ABU GA 50), in partnership with GAATES, ABC, AMIC, AIBD, and UNESCO.

Mass media has an important role in promoting inclusion of people with disabilities by demonstrating broadcasting that can utilized by people with disabilities, specifically closed captioning for people who are deaf and audio description for people who are blind said Mukhtar Al Shibani, President, GAATES.

See caption.

Mukhtar Al Shibani, presented on Disaster Prepardness and Involvement for Persons with DIsabilities through Media and ICT

See caption.

(Back row from left to right) Chrissie Tucker, ABC; Hoang Minh Nguget, UNESCO; Natalia Ilieva, ABU; Susan Schorr, ITU; Aurora Rubio, ITU.
(Front row from left to right) Aqeel Qureshi, VP GAATES; Mukhtar AlShibani, President, GAATES

See caption.

Aqeel Qureshi, presented on Incusive ICT and Early Warning Systems

It is necessary to ensure that early warning systems and disaster risk reduction programs are accessible for persons with disabilities and meet universal design principles and UNCRPD, including provisions for access to alternative communication systems, said Aqeel Qureshi, Vice President, GAATES.

The two-day forum concluded with the adoption of a "Hanoi Declaration", creating a platform for cultivating networks, partnerships, policies, and funding supporting women and persons with disabilities working in ICT, inclusive DRR and Media.

Public Service Announcement To Celebrate
The UN International Day of Disaster Reduction

13 October - International Day for Disaster Reduction 2013

Theme: International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction (IDDR) 2013: Living with Disability and Disasters

IDDR 2013

October 13 each year marks the United Nation International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction , to celebrate how people and communities are reducing their exposure risk to disasters and raising awareness about the importance of disability inclusive DRR. It is an opportunity to raise awareness on how everyone, as individuals and as part of the greater community, can take action to reduce their risk to disasters, and how disaster reduction agencies can ensure the inclusion of persons with disabilities. IDDR 2013 focuses on persons with disabilities, and the need for Disability Inclusive DRR plans that include the needs of this community of persons.

GAATES along with partner organizations, the Asia Broadcast Union (ABU) and the Asia Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC) are preparing a series of public service announcements, emergency preparedness videos and planning a webinar on Disability Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction (DiDRR).

GAATES' Objective:

  • To promote Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) for persons with disabilities and to increase their safety.
  • Create awareness to stimulate interest and awareness at the grass roots, national and international level:
    1. Educate and inform persons with disabilities about DRR and encourage them to advocate governments and broadcasters at the local and national level.
    2. Advocate for the Inclusion of persons with disabilities in DRR at the local, national and International level.
    3. Achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and participate in the development of Post-2015 Disability and Development Strategies
  • Increase involvement of persons with disabilities in DRR activities locally and nationally.
  • Getting the disaster risk reduction agencies, nationally, provincially and locally (IE: Public Safety Canada (PSC), Canadian Red Cross, Emergency Management Ontario (EMO), local Offices of Emergency Management, etc.)
    • To be more aware of the needs and issues related to Disability inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction (DiDRR) and
    • To involve persons with disabilities in the review of standard operating procedures (SOPs) and publications.
  • Strengthen networks: governments, Disabled People Organizations (DPO's), civil society organizations (Red Cross), persons with disabilities and the broadcasters, to enhance commitment and support for vulnerable persons including persons with disabilities inputs to DRR.

Check out GAATES' videos on YouTube

Last updated: February 10, 2014

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