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ITU champions new TV experience for persons with disabilities


News » Entertainment
Abuja

January-6-2012

 

A new report by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is making a case for people with disabilities to have access to TV content.

 

Today, broadcasting coverage is nearly complete with practically the whole planet covered by TV signals that reach over 1.4 billion households representing 98 per cent of households in developed countries and nearly 73 per cent of households in developing countries. However, experts are now probing how TV can be made a widely available service that is accessible for persons with disabilities.

ITU in partnership with the Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies (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. To complement an ideal TV experience for this category of viewers, TV content should 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.

The report 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.

The report also identifies accessibility solutions for media executives, regulators and policy makers, pay-TV operators, consumer electronics manufacturers, sales outlets as well as disabled persons organisations.

According to ITU, TV is important for enhancing national identity, providing an outlet for domestic media content and getting news and information to the public, which is especially critical in times of emergencies.

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, ITU said.

It noted that TV programmes are also a principal source of news and information for illiterate segments of the population, some of whom are persons with disabilities.

According to Secretary-General, ITU, Hamadoun Touré, “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.”

ITU admits that many new access services will require adequate radio frequency spectrum allocations and 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 disabilities, Toure added.

The new report will be added to the wealth of resources already available in the e-Accessibility Policy Toolkit for Persons with Disabilities, and shared with ITU membership via the ITU website, he stated.

Also commenting on the report, Director, Telecommunication Development Bureau, ITU, Brahima Sanou added that, “indeed, many of the one billion or so people who live with some form of disability are unable to enjoy the audiovisual content that comes to their homes. This is because either the content, information and/or devices necessary for them to access these services are not accessible for them.”

According to him, solutions exists today that can make it possible for the disabled to fully enjoy TV and that can help them participate in so many aspects of social and cultural activities.

While stating that accessible TV should a fundamental tool in building inclusive societies, ITU wants to ensure that all of the world’s population has access to TV services in one of the key targets set by world leaders at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).

Sanou said that more than 100 ITU Member States have now ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

“The emphasis of this report is on making digital media accessible. Television is going digital. I believe the migration from analogue to digital TV represents an ideal opportunity for ITU members to take the necessary steps to ensure TV is accessible”, he said.

He added that that making TV accessible is everyone’s business while noting that, “it is my goal that this report will assist ITU members to take the necessary steps to ensure that persons with disabilities can enjoy their CRPD right to access TV.”

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Updated 7 Years ago
 

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