1 Statement of the situation
The World Health Organization (WHO)
estimates that 600 million persons in the world live with some
type of disability. According to WHO, about 80 per cent of
persons with disabilities live in low-income countries.
Disability appears in different forms and degrees, regarding
physical, sensitive or mental aspects. Also, the increase in
life expectancy results in elder persons having a reduction in
their capabilities. Thus, it is likely that the number of
persons with disabilities will continue to increase.
The inclusion in society of persons
with disabilities is a policy of Member States. The objective of
such policy is to bring about the necessary conditions for
persons with disabilities to enjoy the same opportunities in
life as the rest of the population. The disabilities policy has
evolved, and is not limited to basic healthcare, education of
children with disabilities and rehabilitation of persons who
have suffered disability during their adulthood. The
implementation of the disabilities policy has made urban
infrastructure accessible, and has improved health and
rehabilitation services for this group. Moreover, the principles
of equal opportunity and non-discrimination are common policies
of Member States.
With respect to telecommunications,
during the World Telecommunication Development Conference
(Istanbul, 2002) Member States resolved, by Resolution 20
(Rev. Istanbul, 2002), that access to technologies, facilities
and telecommunication services must be provided on a
Telecommunications/ICTs have been
acknowledged as essential for social, cultural, economic,
political and democratic development as well as exercising
several fundamental rights. Within the World Summit on the
Information Society (WSIS), both the declaration of Principles
and the Tunis Commitment emphasized the immense impact that
telecommunications/ICT has in almost every aspect of life and
are considered an instrument for productivity, economic growth,
employment generation, good government, dialogue between persons
WSIS acknowledged that special
attention should be given to the needs of elder persons and
persons with disabilities.
In recognition of the accessibility to
telecommunications/ICT by persons with disabilities, the ITU
Council meeting approved the theme for the World
Telecommunications and Information Society Day (May 17) of 2008
to be "Connecting people with Disabilities: telecommunications/ICT
Opportunities for All".
On 13 December 2006, the United
Nations General Assembly approved the Convention on the Rights
of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
The CRPD was opened for signature on
30 March 2007 and, as of 16 February 2009, 137 countries have
signed it, while 81 have signed the Optional Protocol. Out of
these 48 had ratified the Convention and 28 the Optional
Protocol. The CRPD establishes basic principles also a State's
obligations to ensure equal access to telecommunications/ICTs
including Internet by persons with disabilities.
There is a lack of specific legal
provisions for telecommunications/ICT accessibility. Certain
countries have anti-discriminatory laws or telecommunication
laws. Some have legal provisions from a medical stand point
which considers disability as a "defect" rather than addressing
disability with emphasis on ability and integration. Legal
provisions should be available to turn good accessibility
provisions into reality.
Accessibility standards are essential
to make it possible that equipment and services should be usable
by the broadest range of persons, are interoperable and provide
required quality services. The ITU Telecommunication
Standardization Sector (ITU-T) has prepared several
recommendations and documents that provide information on a wide
range of accessibility standards.
It is also important to consider
stakeholder participation where persons with disabilities should
be involved in the process of elaborating legal/regulatory
provisions, public policy and standards.
It would also be important to consider
assistive technologies to be used by persons with various types
of disabilities. These assistive technologies should be aimed to
overcome or reduce the gap between standard telecommunications/ICTs
generally available and those which address the needs of persons
1.2 Information and
It is also important to gather
information and data addressing many important issues relating
to accessibility to telecommunications/ICT by persons with
disabilities. Therefore, a methodology should be developed to
assist the information gathering process.
2 Question for study
Analyse policies and strategies to
promote, develop and implement the most advanced technological
solutions to enable equal access to telecommunications/ICTs by
persons with disabilities to that enjoyed by the rest of the
3 Expected output
It is proposed that the Question for
study should result in a report that will enable Member States,
especially developing and least developed countries (LDCs), to
design policies and execute strategies for promoting and
implementing services and solutions which provide access to
telecommunications/ICTs by persons with disabilities.
Furthermore, the report will help Member States and Sector
Members identify commercial best practices relating to
telecommunications/ICT that should apply in relation to persons
The report should contain the
regulatory policies necessary for ensuring accessibility to
telecommunications/ICT for persons with disabilities, but not
the principles to be applied by
service providers and equipment manufacturers (i.e. equal
access, accessibility/compatible devices);
a recommendation on the desirable
access to telecommunications/ICT;
suggested schemes for the
implementation of policies and strategies;
an economic cost evaluation and a
comparison of the available technological solutions;
a recommendation of commercial
best practices applied by service providers for overcoming
the special difficulties faced by persons with disabilities
in accessing telecommunications/ICT.
These activities should be included in
the programme of activities of ITU-D Study Group 1 for the
period 2010-2014, as a new Question.
Mid-term report is expected by 2012.
report is expected by 2013.
6 Sources of input
The following stakeholders are
encouraged to supply information for the Question: Member
States, Sector Members, relevant international and regional
organizations, public and private institutions and civil society
organizations involved in the design of policies and advocacy
for the development of technological solutions to alleviate the
difficulties faced by persons with disabilities in accessing
7 Target audience