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 Thursday, 25 May 2006
Study Group 16 has published an ‘Accessibility Checklist’ for the makers of standards to ensure that they are taking into account the needs of those to whom accessibility to ICTs are restricted, the deaf or hard-of-hearing for example. Experts say that such a list will help to ensure that accessibility needs are taken into account at an early stage, rather than ‘retrofitted’. The list will be published on a new webpage acting as a repository for accessibility in standards information.

Study Group 16’s standardization work in the field of accessibility aims to ensure that all sectors of the global community have equal access to communications and online information. This effort goes back to the 1990s with V.18 (an ITU-T Recommendation on a multi-function text telephone).

The work takes into account the fact that users of ICTs have a varied capability for handling information and the controls for its presentation. The source of this variation lies in cultural and educational backgrounds as well as in age-related functional limitations, in disabilities, and in other natural causes. Everyone can benefit from this accessibility standardization work as anyone can be permanently or temporarily disabled due to physical, environmental (e.g. a phone call in a noisy environment) or cultural (e.g. spoken language diversity) conditions. Moreover, we will all grow old and lose facilities that we take for granted now, thus enlarging the part of the population that benefits from accessible communication.

The most important goal of ITU-T’s accessibility activity is to make sure that newly developed standards contain the necessary elements to make services and features usable for as broad a range of people as possible. Standards describe how equipment should interact and what quality is necessary for media to be usable for all, additionally suitable methods of media delivery for people with disabilities are described.