This document contains recent activities on ICT Accessibility undertaken in the three ITU sectors.
ITU-D through its Special initiatives Unit has a responsibility of promoting accessible ICT to persons with disabilities through a number of avenues including specific ICT projects targeting Persons with disabilities, seminars and workshops as well as activities in connection with Question 20 under Study Group 1. Resolution 56 from the World Telecommunication Development Conference (Doha, 2006) required BDT, through Question 20/1, to develop Guidelines and supporting materials for policy-makers and regulators to facilitate mainstreaming disability issues in their national policies, as well as in their regulatory and legislative frameworks. In addition to this, ITU-D is also called to support Member States in implementing specific ICT projects, activities and events targeting on the needs of persons with disabilities (PwDs).
Based on the above mandate, a number of activities have taken place since adoption of this Resolution in 2006 as follows;
1.1 Past Activities
· Four Rapporteurs and Study Groups meetings were held for Question 20-1 where a work plan for the period leading up to the next WTDC was adopted. http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/study_groups/SGP_2006-2010/documents/Questions/Q20-1.pdf
· A questionnaire was compiled and sent to member states to collect statistics on persons with disabilities. The deadline has been extended to June 30 to allow countries to respond to the questionnaire. http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/CDS/gq/sgq20-1.html
· A global seminar on “Sharing experience on best practices and services for people with disabilities” took place in Geneva in September prior to the Study Group meeting. http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/study_groups/SGP_2006-2010/events/2007/Workshops/index.html
· A Regional meeting on Telecommunication Services for People with Disabilities was held in Cairo. http://www.ituarabic.org/2007/Disabilities
· An expert mission was undertaken and ICT equipment was provided under the a project known as eNABLE which was implemented in collaboration with the Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL).ICT equipment was provide to 22 centres supporting marginalized communities and persons with disabilities. http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/study_groups/SGP_2006-2010/events/2007/Workshops/documents/06-enable.pdf
1.2 Activities for 2008 and future
· Regional workshop on sharing experiences and best practice will take place in Zambia in July 2008. The objectives for this event are to:
o Discuss measures necessary to achieve ICT accessibility for persons with disabilities to provide them with equal access to social and economic opportunities in life as the rest of the population
o To continue raising l awareness on the importance of ICT accessibility for PwDs and need to adopt and implement relevant policies.
o Share experiences, policies, strategies to eliminate obstacles in accessing ICT services faced by PwDs.
o Invite partnership and support from ITU Member States and Sector Members to work with the ITU to jointly promote and achieve the integration of the PwDs into the Information Society.
o This is a follow up to an earlier project known as eNABLE implemented in collaboration with the Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL). 22 centres supporting marginalized communities and persons with disabilities received ICT equipment. This current project is aimed at creating public awareness and fundraising activities to help more marginalized communities living / working in villages, schools and Vocational Training Centres. This will involve equipping the special schools, Multi-purpose community Telecentres and villages with basic sets of ICT equipment and facilities including Braille printers and other specific technologies to enhance accessibility for PwDs.
o The ultimate goal of this project is to empower persons with disabilities to live and work independently ensuring their security and acceptance in their societies.
ITU-T is very active in accessibility matters. Two Study Questions leads the work on the topic:
· Question 26 of SG16 “Accessibility to Multimedia Systems and Services" continues ITU-T’s international standardization work on accessibility, pioneered in the 1990s with V.18 (an ITU-T Recommendation on a multi-function text telephone).
· Question 3 of SG2 “Human Factors issues on international telecommunication services” aims at increasing usage and therefore revenues derived from international telecommunications services by improving ease of use and usability.
Most of the work within those Questions resulted in ITU-T Recommendations, a list of which (non comprehensive) is attached in ANNEX 1. In addition to this list, the inclusion of sections on ICT accessibility in several other Recommendations is the result of the work of those Questions. An example of two recent achievements is reported below:
· (11/2006) Approval of ITU-T technical paper “Telecommunication Accessibility Checklist for standards writers”, which intends to ensure that the specified services and features are usable by as many as possible including persons with disabilities, providing that early use of this checklist is applied in the standards process.
· (01/2007) Approval of the ITU-T Recommendation F.790 “Telecommunications accessibility guidelines for older persons and persons with disabilities”, which provides general guidelines for standardizing, planning, developing, designing and distributing all forms of telecommunications equipment, software and associated services, to enhance their accessibility for users including those with disabilities.
In order to enhance the coordination on the standardization activities on ICT Accessibility, a Joint Coordination Activity on Accessibility and Human Factors (JCA-AHF) was established in December 2007. JCA-AHF reports to ITU-T Study Group 2, with copy to all other Study Groups. The Convener of JCA-AHF is Ms. Andrea Saks (USA), one of the three laureates who received an award in recognition of their active roles in promoting ICT accessibility for persons with disabilities at the World Telecommunications/Information Society Day (WTISD), 15 May 2008, Cairo. The Terms of Reference for the group are given in . The purpose of JCA-AHF may be summarized as raising awareness, giving advice, providing assistance, and promoting collaboration, coordination and networking. It is about grasping opportunities to improve access to the information society by people with varied capabilities of handling information and the controls for its presentation. Furthermore the JCA-AHF is about improving usability for all people, in the broadest sense.
The Secretariat of the JCA-AHF, Stefano Polidori, is reachable at (http://www.itu.int/ITU-T/jca/ahf/). . Anyone who wishes to communicate and/or collaborate to the JCA-AHF work and/or subscribe to the email reflector ( ) should email the secretariat at the above address. The reflector subscription can be done also through the TIES interface. The reflector is used to exchange information, to disseminate JCA-AHF announcements and as a tool to plan, discuss and implement future meetings and events. Documentation is stored and archived in a read-only open FTP area that is available from the JCA-AHF website (
2.1 JCA-AHF activities since its creation (December 2007)
Since its creation in December 2007 the following activities have been carried out:
2.1.1 The Action Plan for 2008 of the JCA-AHF has been identified and is reproduced below (item 2.2)
2.1.2 The JCA-AHF web page has been created http://www.itu.int/ITU-T/jca/ahf. It includes an “Accessibility newsfeed”.
2.1.3 Electronic working methods have been implemented:
a. A service email account managed by the Secretariat is available (firstname.lastname@example.org).
b. An email reflector is available to discuss among JCA-AHF interested participants (email@example.com).
c. An informal FTP area for document repository has been created and is available from the JCA-AHF webpage.
2.1.4 A Tutorial on Accessibility was organized and held on 22 April 2008. The Tutorial was addressed to ITU Staff and intended to train concerned departments on how to improve current ITU facilities (websites and meetings) in order to meet the requirements for an accessible ICT infrastructure. Other UN organizations in Geneva were invited and attended the Tutorial. The archived webcast (http://www.itu.int/ibs/ITU-T/200804tutorial/index.html) of the Tutorial is available from the JCA-AHF website and can be used as a resource to enhance accessibility awareness.
2.1.5 The JCA-AHF Convener and Secretariat participated in the organization of the “Joint ITU and G3ict Forum 2008” on “The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: Challenges and Opportunities for ICT Standards” that was held on 21 April 2008. The JCA-AHF ensured that the workshop was accessible with online web-captioning and sign language interpretation. The programme and presentations are available online at http://www.itu.int/ITU-T/worksem/accessibility/200804/programme.html. A webcast of the event is available at http://www.itu.int/ibs/ITU-T/200804access/index.html.
2.1.6 The JCA-AHF Convener, Ms Saks, was appointed as Coordinator of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) “Dynamic Coalition on Accessibility and Disability” (see http://www.itu.int/themes/accessibility/dc/ and item 4 below). This will help identifying areas of common interest and promote collaboration with external bodies.
2.1.7 A Liaison Statement (LS) on “Accessibility and J.700” was sent to Q.9 of SG9; copy to SG13, SG16 and SG2 to congratulate and encourage future work for including accessibility features in SG9 activities. The LS was approved electronically by the JCA-AHF reflector.
2.1.8 The Convenor of the JCA-AHF noticed an accessibility omission in document number TD 561 R1 (WP 2/16) “Summary of AMS Requirements” and TD 566 (WP 2/16) “AMS Catalogue (Applications/services, scenarios and devices)”; as a result of the Convener intervention, an accessibility section will be created in future releases of the documents. There was also a request from Q.12/16 that Q.26/16 and Q.3/2 contribute to the creation of a scenarios document regarding AMS. A liaison statement will be sent on the topic from ITU-T SG16 to ITU-T SG2.
2.1.9 The Convener attended several Study Groups meetings and Focus Groups to represent the JCA-AHF and to facilitate the inclusion of accessibility and Human Factors features on various documents, see TD 466 (PLEN/16) “the Report of interim meetings where accessibility was discussed”.
2.1.10 The acronym of the JCA-AHF was harmonized in all relevant documents and websites to read as “JCA-AHF” and will no longer be referred to as “JCA-A&HF”
The JCA-AHF Action Plan for 2008 as outlined below
2.1.11 Monitor the need to organize Workshops on Accessibility and/or Human Factors related topics and when workshops are organized act as coordinator among interested parties.
2.1.12 Support and facilitate upon request delegates of ITU Study Groups in their writing of contributions by making available information necessary to reflect the needs of persons with disabilities.
2.1.13 Participate in the new Dynamic Coalition on Accessibility and Disability under the IGF and particularly in the organization of the planned workshop at the 3rd IGF meeting, 3-6 December 2008, Hyderabad, India.
2.1.14 Coordinate the updating of the text of all related ITU-T Questions pertaining to Accessibility and Human Factors (e.g. Q.3/2 and Q.26/16) for the new study period 2009-2012 in order to facilitate coordination and avoid duplication of work.
2.1.15 Improve coordination between ITU-T Q.3/2 and ITU-T Q.26/16 to ensure that areas of overlap are worked on jointly.
2.1.16 Coordinate the work on a new Resolution on Accessibility and Human Factors; ensure the timely input to the next WTSA-08.
2.1.17 Enhance the awareness of the coordination function of the JCA-AHF within ITU-T, ITU-R and ITU-D Study Groups and according to TSAG mandate (see TSAG Report 22 Section 9.2.3), discuss the better way to establish collaboration with ITU-D and in particular with ITU-D Q.20/1 and Program 5.
2.1.18 Begin the work on creating guidelines for accessibility in ITU meetings to include real-time captioning, sign language interpretation, web accessibility and physical assistance for individuals when needed.
Wireless technologies are rapidly emerging as an important medium to send and receive data, text, voice and video in a seamless and ubiquitous manner. Wireless devises are becoming an integral part of daily life, and these technologies will be best placed to give accessibility to people with disabilities and avoid their exclusion from the information society.
ITU-R Sector contributes wireless technological development though the production of Recommendations, Reports and Questions relating to people with disabilities, and by so doing to improving their accessibility and to reducing the overall Digital Disability Divide.
3.1 ITU-R Publications’ contribution to Bridging the Digital Disability Divide
The following ITU-R deliverables relate to aspects of wireless and broadcasting communication systems of relevance to people with disabilities:
· Handbook on digital television broadcasting
The “DTTB Handbook — Digital terrestrial television broadcasting in the VHF/UHF bands” provides guidance to engineers on deploying digital terrestrial television broadcasting. It covers aspects of captioning and closed captioning of broadcasts -techniques that are extremely useful for people with hearing difficulties.
Captions are the text on a television screen, such as subtitles, that is produced for all viewers of certain programmes. The handbook says that captioning information must be synchronized with each television frame. Captioning information should be uniquely identified and carried as user data within the video picture layer.
This type of caption is an option that viewers can choose to see on the screen, and is typically used by the hard of hearing. Like general captioning information, closed caption services must be synchronized with each television frame and should be uniquely identified and carried as user data within the video picture layer.
Recommendation ITU-R M.1076 on “Wireless communication systems for persons with impaired hearing” notes that various ways have been used to transfer speech signals to a listener's hearing device. These include infrared radiation, use of the magnetic induction internal to current loops (including operation at audio frequencies), VHF radio, and the external induction field of a radiating antenna.
The Recommendation indicates that simply amplifying a sound signal received by a hearing aid does not make for a satisfactory improvement. It gives details of technical parameters that should be used with radio induction field and VHF systems suitable for wireless hearing aids, and says that the infrared systems and audio frequency induction loops should also be considered for some applications.
Recommendation ITU-R BS.1698 on “Evaluating fields from terrestrial broadcasting transmitting systems operating in any frequency band for assessing exposure to non-ionizing radiation” provides a basis for the derivation and estimation of the values of electromagnetic radiation (EMR) from a broadcasting station that occurs at particular distances from the transmitter site. Using such information, responsible organizations can then develop appropriate standards that may be used to protect people from undesirable exposure to harmful radiation. The actual values to be applied in any regulation will naturally depend on decisions reached by responsible health agencies, domestic and worldwide.
Electronic medical devices:
Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) is a general concern for electronic equipment and particularly electronic medical devices. If electromedical devices are used in the presence of strong electromagnetic fields they may malfunction. The risk of such malfunction increases if the field strengths are great enough. The risk of malfunction depends upon several variables, such as the level of field strength, which is dependent on distance between the radiating antenna and the device, the transmitter power, the frequency of the waves, the type of modulation of the radiated signal, the effect of cable coupling as well as the electronic devices own radio frequency (RF) immunity.
Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) can furthermore cause radio frequency (RF) interference to active implanted or portable medical devices. This is a danger for patients with devices implanted in their bodies, and, in the future there may be an increasing number of these devices. Also the range and the number of different new devices appears to be increasing, e.g. portable monitors, prosthetic aids for sight and motion.
3.2 ITU-R activities for 2008 and future:
The ITU Radiocommunication Sector is further engaged in accessibility studies through its ongoing Study Group activities and in raising the attention of Administrations and Scientific Organizations to further include accessibility issues within their work programmes.
Work has also begun on studying the implementation for web site accessibility, as far as possible, of the ITU-R Sector web site and sub-sites.
ITU organized the workshop “Making Accessibility a Reality in Emerging Technologies and the Web” during the 2nd meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), Rio de Janeiro 12-15 November 2007. The event brought together experts from around the world to examine the best way to resolve accessibility needs in ICT and emerging technologies. As a result ITU proposed to the IGF on 26 February 2008 the establishment of a Dynamic Coalition on “Accessibility and Disability”. Andrea Saks ITU / TDI Telecommunications for the Deaf inc. welcomed the proposal and volunteered to coordinate this effort. ITU offered to the Dynamic Coalition partners to host the DCAD website and to provide Secretariat support.
Although new ICTs have provided substantial benefits to modern society, there are still a large number of people who cannot enjoy them due to the lack of accessibility features. This problem is exacerbated by the Internet revolution. It is now common place to encounter phrases like e-health, e-education, e-trade, e-finance or e-medicine, describing important services that are entering into the everyday lives of ordinary people. So it is imperative that everyone has equal access to these ICT services on the Internet. The Dynamic Coalition on "Accessibility and Disability" will facilitate interaction between relevant bodies and ensure that ICT accessibility is included in the key debates around Internet Governance in order to build a future where all sectors of the global community have equal access to the Information Society.
The Dynamic Coalition is open to any organization entity or individual working on the field, including Standard Developing Organizations (SDOs). A part of ITU, current coalition partners include ACMA – Australian Communications and Media Authority, DAISY Consortium – Digital Accessible Information System Consortium, G3ict – The Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs, ICDRI – International Center for Disability Resources on the Internet, ISOC-AR – Argentina Chapter of Internet Society, NCC – Nigerian Communications Commission, People Who and UNESCO - United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
The first activity of the Dynamic Coalition on Accessibility and Disability resulted in a proposal, submitted to the Internet Governance Forum, to hold a workshop “Including Accessibility and Human Factors in the Universalization of the Internet - How to reach persons with disabilities, the 10% of the next billion” at the 3rd IGF meeting, 3-6 December 2008, Hyderabad, India.
Detailed information on the proposal is attached in Annex B.
The interested parties who wish to join this effort should contact the Dynamic Coalition on Accessibility and Disability secretariat at: DCADsecretariat@itu.int
A mailing list (DCAD@itu.int) has been set up to facilitate discussions among DCAD partners; to subscribe to the list the request should be sent to DCADsecretariat@itu.int, indicating name, affiliation and the email address to be subscribed.
DCAD Coordinator: Andrea
DCAD Secretariat: Stefano
Polidori, ITU Telecommunication Standardization Bureau (TSB)
ITU-D: Asenath MPATWA
ITU Telecommunication Development Sector (ITU-D)
ITU-T: Stefano Polidori
ITU Standardization Sector (ITU-T)
Contact : firstname.lastname@example.org
ITU-R: Grace De Angelis-Petrin
ITU Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R)
Contact : email@example.com
Dynamic Coalition on Accessibility and Disability (DCAD)
· Coordinator: Andrea Saks
ITU / TDI Telecommunications for the Deaf inc.
· Secretariat Stefano Polidori
ITU Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T)
§ Telecommunication Accessibility Checklist for standards writers (11/2006) (technical paper)
§ F.790 “Telecommunications accessibility guidelines for older persons and persons with disabilities” (01/2007)
§ V.18 - Harmonization of text telephony
§ V.151 - Text relay end-to-end connection of analogue PSTN text telephones over IP
§ T.140 - The general presentation protocol for text conversation
§ T.134 - Text conversation in the T.120 data conferencing environment
§ H.323 - Annex G for text conversation in H.323 packet multimedia environment
§ E.121 - Pictograms, symbols and icons to assist users of the telephone service
§ F.910 - Procedures for designing and selecting symbols, pictograms and icons
§ E.135 - Human factors aspects of public telecommunication terminals for persons with disabilities
§ E.136 - Specification of a tactile identifier for use with telecommunication cards
§ E.138 - Human factors aspects of public telephones to improve their usability for older people
This proposal for the organization of a workshop on “Including Accessibility and Human Factors in the Universalization of the Internet - How to reach persons with disabilities, the 10% of the next billion", to be held at the 3rd IGF meeting (3-6 December 2008, Hyderabad, India), was submitted by the DCAD to the IGF on 30 April 2008. It is reported below for information, according to the template of IGF workshops application form:
“Including Accessibility and Human Factors in the Universalization of the Internet - How to reach persons with disabilities, the 10% of the next billion" Provide a concise description of the proposed workshop theme including its importance and relevance to the IGF.
The workshop will highlight the necessity to make the Internet accessible to all, regardless of individual capabilities of different users. This impacts not only the need to eliminate information deprivation but also to eliminate social economic discrimination. Access to the Internet is important for all people of all nations so that they can benefit from e-commerce, e-health, e-education and in general e-communications. Including the needs of persons with disabilities in the planning of the Universalization of the Internet will facilitate reaching the next billion and will increase the participation in the Global Internet Society.
2. Provide the names and affiliations of the panellists you are planning to invite. Describe the main actors in the field and whether you have you approached them about their willingness to participate in proposed workshop.
The main actors in organizing the workshops are the Dynamic Coalition Members. They are aware of this proposal and provided support and information, discussion is ongoing in the email reflector of the Dynamic Coalition.
The DC Membership currently include:
Partners: Organizations and
3. Provide the name of the organizer(s) of the workshop and their affiliation to various stakeholder groups. Describe how you will take steps to adhere to the multi-stakeholder principle, geographical diversity and gender balance.
The Dynamic Coalition is formed by organizations working in the field from all over the world. A Steering Committee composed by relevant Dynamic Coalition representatives will be set-up in order to adhere to the multi-stakeholder principle, geographical diversity and gender balance. Andrea Saks, Coordinator of the DC, will act as Coordinator for the organization of the Workshop.
Yes, Accessibility and Human Factors in the Internet need to be properly addressed and included in the IGF agenda.
5. Please explain how the workshop will address issues relating to Internet governance and describe how the workshop conforms with the Tunis Agenda in terms of substance and the mandate of the IGF.
The workshop will build on the success of the workshop “Making Accessibility a Reality in Emerging Technologies and the Web” organized by ITU at the 2nd IGF meeting in Rio, Brazil, which led to the formation of the Dynamic Coalition on Accessibility and Disability, and will respond to the requirements expressed in line with the WSIS Tunis Agenda related to reducing illiteracy and providing access and accessible content for marginalized and vulnerable groups of society, including older persons and persons with disabilities
Building on the success of the workshop “Making Accessibility a Reality in Emerging Technologies and the Web” organized by ITU at the 2nd IGF meeting in Rio, Brazil, which led to the formation of the Dynamic Coalition on Accessibility and Disability, the Dynamic Coalition would like to propose to the IGF the organization of a Main Workshop on
“Including Accessibility and Human Factors in the Universalization of the Internet - How to reach persons with disabilities, the 10% of the next billion"
The Dynamic Coalition was established as follow-up of the ITU workshop “Making Accessibility a Reality in Emerging Technologies and the Web” organized by ITU at the 2nd IGF meeting in Rio, Brazil. ITU submitted the Report as requested. ITU is a founder member of the Dynamic Coalition.
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