Charter calls for radical change in access to technology for disabled and older people

Charter calls for radical change in access to technology for disabled and older people

Editor: Regular readers know that the hearing loss community in the US is expressing growing concern that ongoing technological advances are reducing, rather than increasing, access for people with hearing loss. One glaring example is the explosion of non-captioned video on the Internet.

Folks in the UK are expressing similar concerns, and they’ve undertaken a comprehensive program to do something about it! Here’s the report from the RNID.

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A revolutionary new charter commissioned by the Alliance for Digital Inclusion (ADI), and developed by a consortium comprising leading charities RNID, the Disabled Living Foundation (DLF) and technology consultants Scientific Generics, will help to ensure the future inclusion of disabled and older people in Information and Communication Technology (ICT).

The consortium and the ADI are asking business & industry, government and the voluntary sector to work together to ensure that ICT such as PCs, mobile phones and TVs are made accessible to disabled and older people.

The consortium has produced the eInclusion charter, which comprises three specific strands addressing respectively business & industry, government and the voluntary sector, to make sure disabled and older people are not left behind in the Information Society.

Government is being asked to harness new technology to create a more equal society for all citizens and consumers. In addition to making sure the local and national government services are fully accessible and usable by disabled and older people, it has a role to play in providing a better funding framework for access to employment and education and for the subsidy of specialised access technologies.

The charter further recommends that industry uses inclusive design principles to create technology that will be usable by disabled and older people. As well as technology design, front-line retail customer service is also a priority. The charter states that businesses must ensure that customer-facing staff are aware of the ICT needs of disabled and older people, through the delivery of appropriate training.

Guido Gybels, Director of New Technologies at RNID, says: “Technology has in the past sometimes created barriers to full participation by not being designed to be fully inclusive. But it also carries big promise to overcome obstacles previously considered absolute. All parts of society should work together constructively to harness ICT, such as PCs, the Web, mobile phones and digital television, to make the world a more equal place for everyone. New technology has great potential to overcome barriers in education, the workplace and social life for disabled and older people.”

“Currently people are still being excluded, and their needs are not being met. This is why we are fully committed to ensuring the inclusion of disabled and older people in ICT, and the consortium urges businesses and voluntary organisations to support our strategy for change by signing up to the charter.”

ADI, a pan-industry body focusing on the impact of information and communication technology on our society, is also concerned that some disabled and older people in the UK are being left behind, and believes that the development of the charter is the first step to radical change. Heidi Lloyd, spokesperson for ADI, commented; “By setting out a framework for change we hope to make a positive step forward to inclusion for disabled and older people. We recognise that technology can be both a cause of and a solution to exclusion. Through this charter, we hope to maximise the potential that technology has to offer everyone.”

The charter also encourages other organisations in the voluntary sector to identify and prioritise the requirements and challenges of eInclusion and raise awareness about the barriers that disabled and older people face. Organisations are urged to identify the potential of technology to overcome these barriers and are encouraged to work together with business & industry and government to provide insight and training.

For more information please visit http://www.ITenables.info