The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (“the Convention”),
signed by 139 countries as of June 2009, includes a number of articles relating to assistive
technologies for telecommunications. Article 9, for example, states “States Parties shall
take appropriate measures to ensure to persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis
with others, ... to information and communications, including information and communications
technologies and systems, ...both in urban and in rural areas.”
In many countries today, persons with disabilities have little or no access to
communications services. As countries begin to implement the Convention, they
will come to the ITU for guidance on creating accessible services and making
existing services more accessible. Even though ITU has a considerable amount
of documentation in this area, there is still a need for more work. For example,
relay services for deaf, hard-of-hearing and speech-impaired people are increasing
in number but there are no formal descriptions or guidance for these services.
The event aimed to bring together people with experience in the definition and
operation of services together with design and manufacture of equipment to implement them.
Telecommunications technology can be used to improve accessibility in many ways not
related to telecommunications services. For example, conferences, seminars, theatrical
performances etc. can be made more accessible by the use of remote interpretation services.
These can provide other languages (including sign languages) and real-time transcription
into text. The use of telecommunications technology can reduce the cost and increase the
flexibility of such services.
Review existing and in-progress standards and identify the need for more work.
Provide information from organizations operating accessible services. This
included various types of relay service. Contributions were particularly encouraged on
the topics of technology, quality of service, confidentiality, privacy etc.
Discuss the role of public policy, regulation and procurement in support of
standardization and the implementation of the Convention.
Identify follow-up actions to facilitate the implementation of the Convention.
Participation was open to ITU Member States, Sector Members and Associates and to any
individual from a country which is a member of ITU who wished to contribute to the work.
This included individuals who are also members of international, regional and national
organizations. The event was free of charge. Persons with disabilities were especially
welcome to attend the event and take part in the discussions.
Anyone wishing to make a presentation during the event should contact the organiser,
Bill Pechey, (firstname.lastname@example.org, +44 1491 681236) by 31 August 2009 at the
latest. Requests will be honoured based on speaking slot availability and thematic consistency.
Outcomes of Meeting:
The presentations and discussions at the workshop were successful in assisting Question 26/16
(Accessibility) and Question 4/2 (Human Factors) in further developing their work programmes and in
identifying use case scenarios for future standardization. Two areas of particular interest were
public Internet access points and standards for relay services.
There was a joint meeting of the Rapporteurs of Questions 4/2 and 26/16 on the day after the event.
Persons attending the Workshop are welcome to join this meeting but must indicate their intention to do
so on the registration form. The meeting aim to make progress on the work of the two Questions.