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AI for Good Global Summit

ITU-R Sector contribution to Bridging the Digital Disabilities Divide


Wireless technologie
s are seamlessly expanding into daily life, and pervasively satisfying the increasing need of data exchange in all formats of text, audio, and video.  To ensure no one is left behind, new technologies must be accessible to persons with disabilities and specific needs.

The ITU-R Sector contributes to the wireless technology development though the production of Recommendations, Reports and Questions relating to people with disabilities, and by so doing to improve their accessibility and to reduce the overall Digital Disabilities Divide.  

​ITU-R Resolution ​

Resolution ITU-R 67-1​ Telecommunication/ICT accessibility for persons with disabilities and persons with specific needs”  resolves to invite ITU-R to continue conducting studies, research, guidelines and recommendations, related to telecommunication/ICT accessibility for persons with disabilities and persons with specific needs, taking into account  Resolutions 191 (Rev. Bucharest, 2022) and 200 (Rev. Bucharest, 2022​) of the Plenipotentiary Conference, and in close cooperation with ITU-T and ITU-D.


ITU-R Recommendations and Reports

Recommendation ITU-R SM.1896 - “Frequency Ranges for Global or Regional Harmonization of Short-Range Devices.”  This Recommendation includes a new harmonized band for “Telecoil Replacement Systems (TRS) for the hearing impaired”.

Recommendation ITU-R M.1076 - "Wireless communication system s for persons with impaired hearing.” This Recommendation provides the technical and operational characteristics for wireless accessibility of hearing aids to public, home and personal audio services operating in the land mobile service.

Recommendation ITU-R RS.1346 - “Sharing  between  the  Meteorological  Aids  Service  and  Medical Implant  Communication  systems  (MICS)  operating  in  the mobile  service  in  the  frequency  band  401-406MHz.” This Recommendation provides the characteristics of MICS and the mitigation requirements for the sharing with Meteorological Aids Systems in above band.

Recommendation ITU-R BT.1702 - “Guidance for the reduction of photosensitive epileptic seizures caused by television.” This Recommendation provides guidance to broadcasting organizations and programme producers, for the protection of the vulnerable section of the viewing population who have photosensitive epilepsy, and who are therefore prone to seizures triggered by flashing lights, including certain types of flashing television images.

Recommendation ITU-R BT.2123- “Video parameter values for advanced immersive audio-visual (AIAV)systems for production and international programme exchange in broadcasting.” In order to produce high-quality comfortable images, AIAV systems require video system parameters that go beyond the levels of UHDTV as well as additional system parameters to support omnidirectional image representation. This Recommendation specifies AIAV system parameters for production and international programme exchange.

Report ITU-R SM.2153 - “Technical and Operating Parameters and Spectrum Use for Short Range Radiocommunication Devices. ” This Report sets out common technical and non-technical parameters for short-range radiocommunication devices (SRDs) among that including wireless applications in healthcare, such as hearing aid, guiding system for the blind and medical implant communications systems (MICS).

Report ITU-R BT.2207 - “Accessibility to broadcasting services for persons with disabilities." This Report lists some approaches to address the following accessible matters: Hearing disabilities; Sight impairment; Aging audience; Receiver user-friendliness.

Report ITU-R BT.2342 - “Production, emission and exchange of closed captions for all worldwide language character sets (Latin and non-Latin )." This Report describes the efforts have been made to develop technologies such as efficient production methods and closed captioning content exchange methods. This Report also describes the recent status of techniques used for the production, exchange and broadcast of closed captions.

Report ITU-R BT.2447 - “Artificial intelligence systems for programme production and exchange." This Report lists a number of approaches on how to tap into the potential of using AI for accessibility, for example, Automation of content recognition, including Speech to text and text to speech; Dialogue tools for Audio Description; Translation –eliminating then unintended; Object and Scene recognition.

Report  ITU-R  BT.2448 - “Technical realization of signing in digital television.” The scope of this Report is to describe methods of making sign language available to the end users. This Report describes practical solutions for closed signing in regular TV programmes, which include the provision of two video signals, one with and one without the signer or alternatively the transmission of the signer video as additional stream.

​ITU-R Study Question

Question ITU-R 145/6 - “Systems for enabling access to broadcast and cooperative media for persons with disabilities" decides that the following questions should be studied;

  1. What systems can be used for delivering sub-titling/closed captioning, and systems to deliver audio into text, appropriate to the delivery of broadcast media and related services.
  2. What systems can be used for delivering signing/closed signing appropriate to the delivery of broadcast media and related services?
  3. What systems can be used for delivering audio description/described video for video content appropriate to the delivery of broadcast media and related services?
  4. What systems can be used for delivering ‘clean audio’ (facility to improve the clarity of foreground sound) for the delivery of audio for broadcast media, and related services?
  5. What systems can be used for delivering haptic information appropriate to the delivery of broadcast media, and related services?
  6. What use of intelligent agents and related technologies could assist in the development and application of access systems and services?
  7. What technologies could be used to enhance the understanding of broadcast media content for persons of differing abilities?
  8. What are the preferred ways that can allow a person with different ranges of ability (vision, hearing, motor impairment) to take part in interactive programme content?

  9. ​​further decides:
  1. that the results of the above studies should be included in one or more Recommendations and Reports;
  2. that the above studies should be completed by 2023.

ITU-R Handbook​

Handbook on Digital Terrestrial Television Broadcasting networks and systems implementation - Chapter 14 deals with accessibility issues and how it can help those with disabilities.