Telecom regulator suggests ways to make ICT services accessible for disabled people

To make information and communication technology (ICT) accessible to India's disabled population, telecom watchdog, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has come up with many recommendations.

One of them is that all mobile manufacturers, who produce five or more handset models, have to bring out at least one handset is meets the accessibility criteria. This has to be done by 2020.

Another proposal is to make TV set top box makers or importers have at least one model in accessible format as well.

The TRAI has been in a dialogue with various groups since December 2017 to look at the barriers that disabled people face in accessing telecom and broadcasting services. It has now come out with over 12 recommendations.

These recommendations, if accepted and implemented by the government, will ensure that everyone in society, people with and without disabilities, enjoy the benefits of technology.

The TRAI has also said that blindness, hearing impairment, locomotor disability, cerebral palsy, specific learning disabilities, are among the categories that need special attention in using ICT equipment. Given this, the TRAI has suggested that telecom, and broadcast operators have special desks at their call centres to handle calls from disabled people using assistive technologies.

Some of the accessibility standards recommended by TRAI for mobile phones and landlines are:

  • Pre-recorded voice command facility for key functions
  • Grips for improved stability
  • Audio or voice interaction with user interface via voice dialling and third party apps
  • Large button phones, and voice controlled calling
  • Programmable dialer with pictures on the buttons
  • Ability to connect a Braille reader.

TRAI has said that accessibility standards for set top boxes should include channel or program selection, display of channel or program information and setup options amongst others.

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