Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ On 30 June 2021, a Stakeholder Meeting on Documentary Heritage in Accessible Formats was held in Mongolia, organized by the Mongolian National Commission for UNESCO, with support of the UNESCO Beijing Cluster Office, in close consultation with the Ministry of Culture of Mongolia.
Twenty-one key stakeholders in the domain of digitization of heritage documents in Mongolia, including representatives from libraries, archives and museums, IT specialists, as well as representatives from organizations of persons with disabilities and other stakeholders interested in disability and accessibility aspects, participated in the meeting, and exchanged ideas on the way forward in preparing accessible documentary heritage for persons with disabilities.
Prof. Shahbaz Khan, Director of UNESCO Beijing Cluster Office and Representative to China, DPRK, Japan, Mongolia and ROK delivered opening remarks at the meeting. In his speech, Prof. Khan pointed that, despite the fact that recent emergence of digital cultural archives and collection leads to huge leap forward in terms of the global access to culture, digital content still remains frequently inaccessible to persons with disabilities. “The advantages of digitization should be enjoyed equally by persons with disabilities,” Prof. Khan stressed.
In order to achieve that, Prof. Khan called upon all parties involved in digitization of heritage documents to incorporate disability and accessibility aspects in the planning of digital platforms and contents. “This requires enhanced understanding of the barriers faced by persons with disabilities, and increased knowledge on the standards for accessibility of digital documentary heritage repositories for persons with disabilities to access and participate in culture.”
Mr. Davaatseren Byambasuren, Director of Cultural Heritage Department at the Mongolian Ministry of Culture also delivered opening remarks at the event. He shared that the main idea of the recently amended Law on Culture of Mongolia is committed to ensuring maximum public participation in cultural and heritage issues and that such participation includes persons with disabilities. “Stakeholders should be involved as much as possible in the discussion of digitization of documentary heritage, accessible documentary heritage and access to information for people with disabilities,” Mr. Byambasuren said.
During the meeting, through a pre-recorded video message, Dr. Alireza Darvishy, Professor of University of Zurich and author of the UNESCO publication titled Accessible Digital Documentary Heritage: Guidelines for the preparation of documentary heritage in accessible formats for persons with disabilities gave a detailed introduction of this most recent guidelines on accessibility of documentary heritage, providing concrete examples on platform accessibility and content accessibility, which was very well received among the participants.
Representatives of Organizations of Persons with Disabilities from Mongolia took an active part in the meeting. During the roundtable discussion, their sharing of the first-hand experience enhanced participants’ knowledge and understanding of the challenges and barriers in accessing documentary heritage and participating in cultural activities faced by the disability community in Mongolia.
In her closing remarks, Ms. Uyanga Sukhbaatar, Secretary-General of the Mongolian National Commission for UNESCO, reiterated the importance of universal access to documentary heritage, and reassured the commitment in making documentary heritage accessible for all people, including persons with disabilities in Mongolia.
UNESCO launched the Memory of the World Programme in 1992, calling upon the preservation of the valuable archive holdings and library collections all over the world and ensuring their wide dissemination. The Programme is intended to protect documentary heritage, and helps networks of experts to exchange information and raise resources for preservation of, and access to, documentary material. For more information about UNESCO’s work on documentary heritage and the Memory of the World Programme, please visit https://en.unesco.org/programme/mow.
Within the areas of its mandate, UNESCO contributes to the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), particularly related to Article 9 on Accessibility; Article 21 on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information; Article 24 on Education; Article 30 on Participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sports; as well as Article 32 on International Cooperation. In support for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, UNESCO has been involved in the UN Interagency Support Group on the CRPD and the UN Disability Inclusion Strategy.
Mongolian National Commission for UNESCO