IT on Overcoming Disability
IT on Overcoming Disability
  • Kim Sung-mi (
  • 승인 2012.08.09 13:32
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SEOUL, KOREA — Dr. Stephen Hawking, a world-renowned physicist, was preparing for a doctorate degree in 1963 when he was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, a condition which deteriorates motor nerves making the whole body twisted, and told he had only one or two years left to live. His academic life just started then. 

While he was fascinated by space physics in 1973, he presented the theory that ‘Black holes are not at all dark but emit particles at a more rapid rate than light, moreover, they emit light just like hot substances do.’ This theory reversed conventional belief. He became a member of the Royal Society in 1974, and a Lucasian professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge in 1979. 

Dr. Stephen Hawking

It was impossible for him to move without a wheelchair. In 1985, he contracted pneumonia, which was life-threatening in his condition. So, he had an emergency tracheotomy which made him dependent upon a breathing tube attached to his chest and a high-tech voice synthesizer onto his wheelchair so he could speak. Credits to science and technology, Dr. Hawking became one of the world’s greatest scholars humanity has ever known.

Social accessibility for the disabled is coming to the fore. People are raising their voices on this matter as not just a simple human rights issue anymore but a comprehensive mission in the fields of transportation, construction, engineering, and natural disasters. We should give equal opportunities to the disabled making them our partners to success and not just mere social responsibility.


“International Conference on Disability” representing Big Four Conventions 

The International Conference on Disability, to be held at Songdo Convensia, Incheon from October 28th to November 2nd is set to promote the rights and rehabilitation of the disabled from all over the world.

It represents the world’s four biggest conventions namely UNESCAP (UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific) High-level Intergovernmental Meeting, World Congress of Rehabilitation International, APDF (Asia Pacific Disability Forum) Conference and World Assembly of AP DPI (Asia-Pacific Disabled Peoples’ International). UNESCAP Meeting is organized by Korea Disabled People’s Development Institute, Conferences of RI and APDF by Korean Society for Rehabilitation of the Disabled, and World Assembly of AP DPI by DPI Korea.

This year’s slogan, “Changing the World through ICT Partnerships,” reverberates Dr. Hawking’s life and how IT gives new hope to the disabled. On the agenda are the review of the implementation of the Biwako Millennium Framework for Action and the adoption of the Incheon Ministerial Declaration aimed at constituting Real Rights for Persons with Disabilities in Asia and the Pacific. The Conference, spending a total of KRW 2 billion, is expecting 3,000 participants from 100 countries including an estimated 2,000 physically challenged attendees from the country.

Dr. Myoung-hwa Yoo, Secretary-General of the Korean Society for Rehabilitation of Persons with Disabilties

Dr. Myoung-hwa Yoo, Secretary-General of the Korean Society for Rehabilitation of Persons with Disabilities, said, “Through the Conference, we hope for a change in people’s awareness of the disabled.” She added, “Since the Seoul Paralympic Games in 1988, people with disabilities have found that confidence to excel through their own efforts. Hopefully, awareness among Korean people on disability transcend through this endeavor.”

This year’s conference is especially meaningful in that it is to evaluate the performance of its Asia-Pacific members for the past 10 years (2003-2012) and to declare the start of the next challenging decade for its physically challenged members. Back in 1981, The UN proclaimed the International Year of People with Disability and declared “United Nations Decade of Disabled Persons”. The “First Decade of the Asia-Pacific People with Disability” was led by China as it was inspired by Deng Xiaoping’s eldest son, Deng Pufang who suffered serious physical disabilities from the Tiananmen Square Massacre. With China in the leading position, three countries including Korea and Japan first declared the “First 10 Years of Asia-Pacific People with Disabilities. The first decade did nothing more than raise the awareness of disabilities. During the evaluation of the first decade, the second 10 years was declared with Japan as the leader. The evaluation of this round is set this October in Incheon, where the third round will be declared to be led by Korea.

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