G3ict-Smart Cities for All Country Representative Program: Updates from Brazil, Ecuador, Libya, Bangladesh, Mexico and Pakistan
Americas, Asia-Pacific, Global, Middle East, Universal Design, May 28 2020
Regina Cohen, Brazil – In 2019, a Brazilian architect, Regina Cohen has represented G3ict and its Smart Cities for All initiative (SC4A) in the Smart City Expo Curitiba in Mexico and also participated in the Smart Cities and Disability Conference (SUDI) 2019. In 2020, Regina attended the 27th World Congress of Architects UIA 2020 and presented the keynote at SUDI 2020. As an expert in accessibility in the built environment, she has contributed to the Virtual Accessibility Guide App in Rio de Janeiro. As the Coordinator of the Accessibility Commission of the Architects Council, Regina continues to play a key role in promoting accessibility planning in homes.
Recently, she has also participated in the webinar on “Mobility, Accessibility and Universal Design” by CAU / RJ Accessibility Commission on May 26. The webinar can be viewed on the YouTube channel of CAU / RJ. Finally, Regina Cohen, along with James Thurston, G3ict VP, participated in the UN-Habitat virtual Expert Group Meeting (EGM) on “Inclusive Cities for All” on May 20, 2020.
Katherine Chacón, Ecuador – Katherine Chacón is a PhD candidate on Urban Regeneration. Recently, she has worked as a Research Consultant for the Access for All Series Transport Paper by the Institute for Transport and Development Policies (ITDP) to document case studies and good practices in Quito. It aimed to highlight that transportation is the key to access employment, education, healthcare and provides greater independence for persons with disabilities. In 2019, she also worked on a policy brief for World Enabled and Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) that utilizes census and household survey data from countries across Latin America to help determine the extent of gaps and barriers faced by persons with disabilities.
Ahmed El-Rida, Libya – Ahmed El-Rida is an architect and urban planner with a keen interest in accessibility. His firm, ATTAYSEER specializes in accessibility consulting and was the first to promote accessibility and Design for All in Libya. In October 2019, he participated in a radio program in Libya to mark the International Day of the White Cane and talk about White Cane and its relationship to the built environment. He also participated in a training in December 2019, held in cooperation with International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) that included representatives of the High National Election Commission (HNEC) who work to implement accessibility in polling stations in Libya. In 2020, Ahmed gave an online lecture on “Universal Design as a strategy for innovation and a human-centered approach” for participants from different parts of Libya. He continues to support a group of architects in Benghazi in creating a project of reconstruction of the city based on the Universal Design principles.
Vashkar Bhattacharjee, Bangladesh – An accessibility expert, Vashkar Bhattacharjee is the National Consultant for Accessibility in the Access to Information (a2i) Program by the Government of Bangladesh. In January this year, Vashkar worked with Mayors and Councillors to focus on building an inclusive and accessible smart city for all during the Dhaka City Corporation Election. He has also supported a platform, ‘Disability Insider’, to help make it accessible for all. Vashkar is one of the 23 changemakers to be awarded the Acumen Fellowship for 2020.
Andres Balcazar, Mexico – Andres is an architect and accessibility and disability consultant for national and international organizations from the private, public and civil society sectors. He currently works as Director of Disability Affairs at Mexico’s Human Rights Commission. Recently, he has also been a part of the International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP) CPABE Expert Panel and the international IAAP taskforce formed to streamline and scale the CPABE program. His other projects include collaborating for the launch of disabilityinsider.com providing news from Latin America and Spain, and contributing updates on COVID-19 for the news and resources section. He believes that the COVID-19 pandemic is a time for a renewed focus on the Smart Cities for All efforts, as daily life evolves for the months to come.
Muhammad Atif Sheikh, Pakistan – Muhammad is the Executive Director of STEP (Special Talent Exchange Program), a cross-disability national organization based in Pakistan that strives for the rights of persons with disabilities. He has experience of over fifteen years in the promotion of accessibility in the built environment and digital accessibility at the national, regional and international levels. He has also contributed to research publications and the development of a guide on disability-inclusive meetings. Recently, he took part in a talk show titled ‘Inclusive‘ and has been interviewed on the lack of accessibility experienced by persons with disabilities.