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ITU-EBU Joint Workshop on Accessibility to Broadcasting and IPTV ACCESS for ALL
Geneva, Switzerland 23 November 2010
Good morning everybody,

I would like to welcome you here on behalf of the ITU and I would like to express our thanks to the EBU for collaborating with ITU once again on an event on accessibility. Of course ITU has been working very closely with EBU for 60 years and we have been quite active recently in the area of accessibility.

EBU is one of our main supporters to the dynamic coalition in the IGF which ITU leads on accessibility- one of the few dynamic coalitions that are really dynamic - and also of course we are very active in the area of developing standards for persons with disabilities. ITU was probably the first standards body to address this need 20 years ago when it developed the standard V.18 for text telephones.

I am also very grateful to have the support of the European Union and the presence of Katarina here this morning. We hope that we will have a lot more collaboration with the European Union in this area.

This is the third accessibility event I have participated in the last two weeks. I think the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities is really giving a new exigency to this work and of course ITU being the lead UN agency for ICTs is very active in this area. We are fortunate to have a very large membership in ITU, 192 governments and also over 700 private sector entities and it is this public/private partnership which allows us to meet our objective of developing international standards.

International standards are increasingly important - because we have a global market we need interoperability. People want to be able to buy an equipment or take on a service in one country and expect to be able to use it in another country anywhere in the world. Also products built to international standards benefit from economies of scale and so the importance of the work we are doing on international standards is continuously increasing. We also need to ensure that our standards meet the requirements of the developing countries. That is very important for ITU as a UN agency. The majority of countries are developing countries and I am very pleased to say that we have greatly increased participation of developing countries in our work. There is a meeting of our Study Group on environment and climate change in the room opposite here starting this morning and that meeting alone sees 11 new countries participating for the first time. We see it almost in every meeting now, we have more and more countries participating and in the area of accessibility that is very important.

We do workshops all over the world, we do workshops in developed countries, developing countries, and least developing countries. It is evident that there is a very different approach to this issue in developing countries compared to developed countries like the event I was at the US last week. So we are very pleased to see increasing participation of developing countries. We need to make sure that accessibility features are available to all the people of the world and that is why we are making a lot more effort to ensure that accessibility features do interoperate.

For example our new IPTV standards include accessibility features. We have conducted two interoperability events recently where several different manufacturers came together connected up their equipment to make sure it does interoperate. We will also be launching a public database very shortly where vendors can enter details of their products which meet our standards. It will mean people can go to one database and see what products are on the market that meet ITU standards.

So we are very keen to collaborate with as many bodies as possible to achieve the objective of international interoperable standards. It is very important that we work with bodies like the European Union, other regional and national standards bodies, all these bodies should be working towards the goal of adopting an international standard with true interoperability.

And as we converge with the Internet community we need to make sure that we include in this collaboration all the internet community organizations especially W3C which I am pleased to see is participating in this workshop.

Finally we are very keen that our workshops come up with an output. We just do not want to be listening to presentations and then everybody goes away and nothing results from it. We would very much like to see this workshop coming up with some recommendations on what we need to do to better achieve our objective. I hope that you will be able to do that over the course of this workshop.

I wish you a very productive workshop.


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Updated : 2010-12-02