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Accessibility II: Communication by all means: Accessibility for all in telecommunications enabled by multimedia standards
Where: Telecom 2003 Forum / Palexpo, Geneva (a plenary session within the Telecom 2003 Forum)

When: Whole Event, 13-17 October 2003
           Accessibility Session, October 17, 2003, 14h00-17h00
           (17h00-19h00 hands-on)

Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) have the potential to give disabled persons a chance to communicate with the world on the same basis as the community at large. And while work on improving access to these technologies is not new, the latest advancements are opening a world of opportunities for communication.

ITU has pioneered work on standardization that will further open up ICT access for the deaf and is progressing its work to promote an all-inclusive approach to telecommunications.

The workshop ‘Accessibility II: Communication by all means’ briefed the attendance on the current status of standardization for accessibility enabled by multimedia communication as well as on societal support and on practical results from the implementation of all-inclusive communications facilities. Speakers included representatives from the standards-making bodies as well as authorities and the user community.


  • Review the current status of standardization in support of accessibility.
  • Learn about actions from society to promote accessibility in ICT.
  • Create awareness on how the Total Conversation concept for communication in video, text and voice can open for efficient telecommunication between people with different languages and capabilities.
  • Create awareness about accessibility standards in the stored multimedia area.
  • Inform and discuss the current work at ITU with Text over IP and interoperability issues.
  • Encourage the implementation of these standards in all technologies applicable so that newer emerging technologies will already take into account the needs of deaf communication.
  • Encourage people with disabilities to support and contribute to the work in ITU-T.



  • 14:10 "Policy support for accessible personal communication"
    Gunnar Fagerberg, European Commission, Information Society, 
    Directorate-General, Elderly and persons with disabilities

    The European Commission has a specific unit for developments in IT of interest for the elderly and persons with disabilities. Activities encompass support for research projects, contribution to policy initiatives, and participation in the development of directives and regulations. The presentation will give an insight in some of these activities, with specific emphasis on telecommunication.

    Additional material: About the EC-Information Society Directorate-General

  • 14:30 "Accessible Multimedia Design for All: Users Role in DAISY Way"
    Hiroshi Kawamura, Manager, Department for Welfare of Persons with Disabilities, Japan [Presentation]

    Digital Accessible Information System (DAISY) is an emerging international standard for synchronized audio, text and graphics. Open, inter-operable and non-proprietary contents/user interface standards that serve to the general public including people with disabilities based on XML, SMIL and Timed Text will be discussed.

  • 14:50 "Total Conversation through ITU-T Standards"
    Paul Jones, Cisco, Rapporteur ITU-T Q.2/16 [Presentation]

    This presentation will focus on the ever-changing world of communications and how the ITU-T has worked to bridge the gaps faced by the elderly, blind, and deaf users. It will highlight some of the more recent and on-going work on the transport of text signalling over IP networks and what equipment manufacturers are doing to address the needs of the deaf and hard of hearing.

  • 15:10 “Communications by all means”
    Gunnar Hellström, Omnitor, Rapporteur ITU-T Q.H/16 [Presentation]

    Total Conversation is a simple extension to video telephony, which opens a multitude of opportunities for improved communication. It is the accessible counterpart to voice telephony. The presentation reports on case studies where various communication situations has been successfully solved by these open standards for accessible communication, and gives further visions about an accessible future for telecommunications.

  • 15:45 "Providing Access to Services for New and Legacy Textphones"
    Mick Day, BT [Presentation | Script]

    The future for textphone communications is real-time full duplex text and voice but how do people who need to use textphones gain access to existing and future services using both the current legacy textphones and the future IP based terminals? Will service providers have to enable all the protocols and technologies that textphone users want to use or do gateways provide a better solution? The presentation will show how gateways can provide access to voice based services for deaf and speech impaired textphone users, how a PC based textphone can enhance the conversation, and the provisioning by BT TextDirect of gateway functions in the UK.

  • 16:05 "Accessible communication on the move"
    Michael Quinlan, British Deaf Association [Presentation]

    The WISDOM (“Wireless Information Services for Deaf People On the Move”) project takes deaf telecommunications to the street and puts the interpreter in the pocket of deaf people.

    Additional material: Summary of the WISDOM Project

  • 16:25 “A new communication platform for deaf and hard of hearing users”
    Beat Kleeb and Urs Linder, Procomm, Switzerland [Presentation]

    An introduction to a demonstration in the hands on session, presenting a new communication platform, based on the SIP standard.

    Additional material : Summary of the TeleSIP application

Panel discussion (16:40):

  • "Can mainstream telecommunications be accessible for all?"
    All speakers


17h00 - 19h00

Final Report


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