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 Joint ITU - AICTO Workshop on "Interoperability of IPTV in the Arab region" hosted by Du
 Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 20-21(AM) September 2011 Contact:
Making IPTV Accessible
Mr. Peter Looms, Chairman of the ITU-T Focus Group on Audiovisual Media Accessibility

Television has been with us for less than a century. It plays an important role in informing, educating and entertaining society and promoting social cohesion. Even in the age of the Internet and the mobile phone, TV is one of the dominant media used by people from all walks of life. In the last decade, IPTV has emerged as a platform to complement and, in some cases, replace broadcast as a means to deliver television content.

Not everyone finds it easy to enjoy TV, however. Worldwide, at least one in six has some kind of problem watching TV. There are the well-known challenges – persons who are blind or deaf – and also some less well-known groups of people who have problems. They include:

• Persons who are part of a subsistence economy and cannot afford receivers for whom the mobile phone may be their first experience of owning IT
• Citizens in countries with several national or local languages
• Viewers who are poor readers (either because they have visual or cognitive impairments or because they never learned to read well when they were kids)
• Persons with health or age-related difficulties when watching TV which include reading text on screen, hearing what is said or using a remote control

The switch from analogue to digital broadcast, Internet/IPTV or mobile distribution in the coming 10-15 years and the ubiquitous nature of mobile phones provide new opportunities to make media accessible. At the same time they create new accessibility challenges.

This presentation briefly addresses the main challenges of making IPTV accessible. It outlines the main groups of persons with disabilities and identifies the kinds of access services that can be offered.

As IPTV continues to grow, the case for introducing and scaling-up IPTV access services requires awareness-building and consensus among all the key stakeholders to make change a reality. As there is not a strong business case for offering access services, legislation and regulation will be needed to promote change.

This is what the International Telecommunications Union is currently working on. A report entitled “Making Television Accessible” is in press and will soon to be released. The ITU-T Focus Group on Audiovisual Media Accessibility has begun work in this field and plans to release deliverables before the end of 2011 that culminate in a roadmap for assuring accessible digital media including IPTV by the end of 2012.


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Updated : 2011-09-14