Users of telecommunications and information technology have a varied capability of handling information and the controls for its presentation. The source of this variation lies in cultural and educational backgrounds as well as on age-related functional limitations, in disabilities, and in other natural causes.
The entire community can benefit from the accessibility standardization work as people 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 abilities that we take for granted now, thus enlarging the part of the population that would benefit from accessible communication. And in these cases the concept of "Total Conversation" is especially important because it caters for the non-signing deaf or hard of hearing community with the incorporation of real time text communication.
Standardization makes it possible on a global scale, to connect equipment and services from different manufacturers. The most important goal of ITU-T’s accessibility activities is to make sure that newly developed standards contain the necessary elements to make services and features usable for people with as broad range of capabilities as possible. Standards describe how equipment interacts and defines the quality necessary for media to be usable for all. Standards should also describe suitable methods of media delivery for people with disabilities, and are therefore essential for the provision of services accessible for all.
ITU-T Study Group 16’s role
As the Lead Study Group on Ubiquity and on Multimedia Terminals, Systems and Applications, the ITU-T SG 16 effort in accessibility standardization promotes the concept of Total Conversation and aims to ensure that all sectors of the global community have equal access to communications and online information. This effort is centered in Question 26/16 "Accessibility to Multimedia Systems and Services", which continues the ITU-T international standardization work on accessibility, pioneered in the 1990s with V.18 (an ITU-T Recommendation on a multi-function text telephone).
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