ITU releases new report on ‘Making TV Accessible’
How to bring one of the world’s most ubiquitous
technologies to the many millions living with audio-visual impairment?
Geneva, 5 December 2011 – Television might well be the
world’s most universal technology. Almost the entire surface of the planet now
has TV signal coverage, with television sets in over 1.4 billion households
worldwide, representing 98% of dwellings in developed countries and nearly 73%
in the developing world.
Recognizing the importance of television as a channel for the dissemination
of public information, education and entertainment, ITU, in collaboration with
partner G3ict, has released
Making TV Accessible, a new digital inclusion report designed to help the
millions of persons worldwide living with a disability that prevents them from
fully enjoying the audiovisual content coming into their homes.
The report identifies the kinds of access services required by a range of
persons with disabilities, along with different accessibility options. These
include closed captioning and signing for the deaf, audio description and audio
captions for the visually impaired, and accessible remote control devices for
the elderly and those with reduced dexterity.
It also explains how access services are produced and delivered so that
regulators and service providers can better understand the issues and costs,
emphasizes the need to make target users aware of access services, and provides
a checklist for accessible TV implementation.
In line with the goals of universal design, accessible TV can support the
social inclusion of immigrant populations, address the needs of increasingly
aging populations, and improve literacy – not only for persons with
disabilities, but for the non-educated and other marginalized groups. TV
programmes are a principal source of news and information for such segments of
the population, and are a key element in reinforcing social participation and
community identity. Television also plays an especially crucial role in times of
emergency, and can serve important educational purposes by transmitting courses
and other instructional material.
“Accessible TV should be a fundamental tool in building inclusive societies.
The emphasis of this report is on making digital media accessible. The
transition to digital terrestrial TV broadcasting represents an ideal
opportunity for ITU members to take the necessary steps to ensure TV is more
accessible to everyone, everywhere,” said ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun
Many new access services will require adequate radio frequency spectrum
allocations. For terrestrial broadcasting services, spectrum availability is
sometimes an issue, while for satellite broadcasting, spectrum costs can be a
stumbling block. As the global manager of the radio frequency spectrum, ITU is
actively encouraging its 193 Member States to ensure that sufficient spectrum is
allocated to support services promoting accessibility for persons with
As part of its activities in the area of ICT accessibility, ITU earlier
partnered with G3ict to create the
e-Accessibility Policy Toolkit
for Persons with Disabilities. The new
Making Television Accessible report will be added to the wealth of resources
already available in the toolkit, and shared with ITU membership via the ITU
ITU will also be a key partner, alongside the US Federal Communications
Commission, in the M-Enabling Summit
taking place in Washington DC from 5-6 December. The event represents the first
global programme solely dedicated to participants in the emerging ecosystem for
mobile accessible and assistive technologies, applications and services. ITU
Secretary-General Dr Touré will give an opening keynote address at the event on
Monday 5 December.
Ensuring that all of the world’s population has access to television services
is one of the targets set by world leaders in the World Summit on the
Information Society in 2003/2005. More than 100 ITU Member States have now
ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with
For more information, please contact:
Head, Special Initiatives Division
Telecommunication Development Bureau
Chief, Media Relations and Public Information, ITU
G3ict, the Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication
Technologies, is a flagship advocacy initiative of
UN-GAID, the United Nations Global Alliance
for ICT and Development. Initiated in December 2006 by
W2i, the Wireless Internet Institute, G3ict is
a public-private partnership dedicated to facilitating the implementation around
the world of the Digital Accessibility Agenda defined by the Convention on the
Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).