Digital Single Market
Digital Economy & Society

Action 67: Member States to implement provisions on disability

Article
The action aimed at implementing by 2011 the provisions on disability in the Telecoms Framework and the Audiovisual Media Services Directive.

The First Report on the application by Member States on the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) was adopted by the European Commission in May 2012. The revised EU regulatory for electronic communications containing enhanced measures for end-users with disabilities has been transposed by the Member States and the Commission monitors the implementation of these EU rules at national level. In November 2013, the Commission published the Study on Assessing and Promoting eAccessibility analysising the situation of e-accessibility across the EU27 countries and some third countries, as well as the policy efforts that have emerged in the field of e-accessibility with particular focus in three key domains – web, telecoms and TV.

The action aimed at implementing by 2011 the provisions on disability in the and the .

What is the problem? People with disabilities face various problems accessing the web, emergency numbers and digital TV

Accessibility and usability can be serious problems for Europeans with disabilities.

It prevents them to fully participate in the information society. Beyond web accessibility, accessibility of electronic communications (notably the 112 emergency number) and audiovisual services (notably digital TV) is particularly relevant.

Why is EU Action required? Preventing a digital divide

Improving ICT accessibility will help members of disadvantaged social groups to participate on an equal footing in the digital society and to have equal opportunities in terms of social interaction, employability, daily life and protection in case of emergencies.

What has the Commission done so far?

  • Member States were required to transpose the revised telecoms package into national legislation by May 2011, including the new rules for disabled end-users in the electronic communications sector and equivalence in access to emergency services by disabled end-users and single European emergency call number 112 under Directive 2002/22/EC. The Commission monitors the transposition and implementation of EU legislation by the Member States.
  • The Commission also cooperates with national regulatory authorities and the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) in the implementation of the revised regulatory framework, including the new rules for disabled end-users.
  • In February 2011, BEREC already published a report on ensuring equivalence in access and choice for disabled end-users in the electronic communications sector and identified a set of measures for the implementation of the revised rules on disabled end-users by national regulatory authorities.
  • In November 2013, BEREC organised a workshop on accessibility, with the participation of the Commission, and including presentation of measures and best practices to be implemented by national regulators to improve accessibility for disabled citizens in the electronica communications sector.
  • The Commission proposal for a Regulation laying down measures concerning the European single market for electronic communications and to achieve a Connected Continent  adopted on 11 September 2013 (COM(2013)627), contains enhanced provisions on rights of disabled end-users rights in the electronic communications sector, including requirements of transparency and publication of information and information requirements for contracts regarding the choice of services and products designed for disabled consumers.
  • On 4 November 2013, the Commission published the Study on Assessing and Promoting eAccessibility analysing the situation of e-accessibility across the EU27 countries and some third countries, as well as the policy efforts that have emerged in the field of e-accessibility with particular focus in three key domains – web, telecoms and TV.
  • The Commission issued a report on the implementation of the AVMS Directive (July 2012) and will monitor and support its implementation.

What will the Commission do next?

  • The Commission will assess the effectiveness of the measures provided for in Article 7 AVMSD in the 2nd Application Report due in May 2015. It will also follow-up on the replies to The Green Paper Consultation on Convergence as regards further standardization needs and incentives to encourage investments in innovative services for people with disabilities.
  • The Commission will continue to monitor the transposition and implementation in Member of the revised EU telecoms rules on disabled end-users and cooperate with natioanl regulatory authorities in Member States and BEREC in the implementation of these rules.
  • The BEREC Work Programme for 2014 includes the review of the report on ensuring equivalence in access and choice for disabled end-users in the electronic communications.
  • The Commission will continue to benchmark e-accessibility.

European Social Innovation Competition

The numerous political initiatives and the increasing financial involvement of firms attest of the growing attention to e-Accessibility. It was still, a few years ago, a question limited to specialists. Today, however, it is a regular preoccupation in the ICT sector. But this achievement must be nuanced. Nowadays, e-Accessibility is still considered as a supplement to the information system development: features dedicated to the disabled population, facultative feature, economical investment detached from any return on investment, e-Accessibility is often thought as an external problem, peripheral to the development of the Information Society. But it appears more and more clearly that this externalizing perspective is one of the most important reasons of the difficulties of e-Accessibility development. Technically, any underestimate of accessibility at the earliest design stage of a device or a website implies a complex and costly reengineering. Economically, it restricts the target of e-Accessibility to the disabled persons, which prevents decision makers to apprehend the larger benefits for companies and society as a whole. Finally, politically, this limited perspective turns us away from the juridical paradigm stating that society, not the individual, is responsible for any disability and, from this point of view, that accessibility is a primordial need for everyone. For all these reasons, putting e-Accessibility at the core is an urgent technological, economical and socio-political necessity. It is in this context that the Institute of e-Accessibility (IAN) organizes the 6th European Forum on e-Accessibility on the theme: “Putting e-Accessibility at the core of the information systems”. Registration is now open.
Monday
26
Mar
2012
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Paris, France
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CEN, CENELEC and ETSI are organising this open workshop on "European Accessibility requirements in public procurement of ICT products and services". This is the second of a series of three workshops that give stakeholders an opportunity to learn about the work, to discuss the latest drafts of the standards and reports and to give feedback about the work being done. The workshop programme will be available in early September.
Friday
28
Oct
2011
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Brussels, Belgium
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The main objective of the Focus Group on Audiovisual Media Accessibility (FG AVA) is to address the need to make audiovisual media accessible for persons with disabilities. The Focus Group encourages participation of all standards development organizations (SDOs) working in this area. The FG AVA is open to ITU Member States, Sector Members, Associates and Academia. It is also open to any individual from a country which is a member of ITU and who is willing to contribute to the work. This includes individuals who are also members or representatives of SDOs as well as other interested stakeholders. The third meeting will be held on 17 November 2011 in Barcelona.
Thursday
15
Sep
2011
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Geneva
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One very important mechanism to provide equal access for persons with hearing disabilities are relay services, where an intermediary typically provides a conversion typically between voice and text or sign language. An increasing number of countries are adopting the UNCRPD and will need advice on the provision of relay services. Also, it is expected that more relay services will be deployed in Europe with the passing of new versions of the Telecommunications Framework Directives; similar regulatory activity and increase in relay service offerings are also expected in other parts of the world. In developing countries, where higher percentages of the population face disabilities, the need for relay services is greater. At the same time, it should be noted that, as the Internet infrastructure develops, it may be used to provide high-quality relay services without the need to build services using older technologies. Finally, relay services today entail operation costs higher than those of normal telephone calls; technical and regulatory solutions are needed to reduce those costs towards the equal basis access to telecommunication services prescribed by the UNCRPD. ITU-T Question 26/16 is currently studying relay services with an aim to advise in those areas through ITU-T Technical Papers and Recommendations. In this context, the workshop is intended as a forum where ideas, problems and good practices can be shared. Existing and future relay service suppliers will be able to share experiences with governments, regulators, standards makers, user groups and users; the outcomes will be fed into the Q26/16 studies.
Friday
25
Nov
2011
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Geneva, Switzerland
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In 2011, ITU-T established a Focus Group on media accessibility, open to all interested parties, to bring together the requirements and systems across all the different media platforms – Internet, IPTV, and Broadcasting. The bold aim is to unify access system technologies across the world and across all media. The group will face many challenges to achieving its objectives. One will be to understand the different priorities of developed and developing nations. The focus group will also need to hear and act on the voices of those who will really use the access services, rather than the politicians. The session will bring together panellists from across the world and across the different media to help the dream of the Focus group a reality.
Thursday
29
Sep
2011
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Internet Governance Forum, Kenya
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The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) established a Dynamic Coalition on Accessibility and Disability. The Dynamic Coalition on Accessibility and Disability will facilitate interaction between relevant bodies, and ensure that ICT accessibility is included in the key debates around Internet Governance in order to build a future where all sectors of the global community have equal access to the Information Society. It organises two workshops at the Internet Governance Forum: “Mainstreaming the disability perspective for an inclusive society" and "Implementing good practices in accessibility for an inclusive society".
Wednesday
28
Sep
2011
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Internet Governance Forum, Kenya
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