BEREC events 2015

BEREC Accessibility Workshop

Event date: 04.03.2015

On 4 March 2015, BEREC organised a Workshop to discuss the accessibility of electronic communications services for end-users with disabilities. The event  focussed on the challenges faced by disabled end-users, the role of regulators in promoting accessibility and the initiatives taken by manufacturers, service providers and the Apps industry to make communications services more accessible for disabled end-users.

The workshop focused on four main issues:

a)      The accessibility and usability challenges faced by disabled end-users when accessing electronic communications services;

b)      The contribution of regulators to improving accessibility for disabled citizens;

c)       Accessibility considered from the industry perspective;

d)      Designing for all - A manufacturers and service providers’ challenge.

The event was opened by the BEREC Chair (Prof. Fátima Barros) and there was active participation from around 70 representatives from regulators, manufacturers, disability associations, service providers, independent experts and from the European Commission.

A number of recommendations and suggestions were made (directed to BEREC and to stakeholders) to improve policies and business practices and help promote equivalent access and choice for end-users with disabilities. These covered areas such as better monitoring, accessible information and better regulation.

Regarding better monitoring, some participants suggested it would be important to benchmark relevant indicators for accessibility in communications markets; others were also in favour of collecting more detailed and more updated statistics across the EU; and participants looked forward to the update to BEREC’s Report on Equivalent Access and Choice for Disabled End-Users that is planned for the end of 2015.

Concerning accessible information, particular emphasis was placed on the need for institutions and service providers to constantly improve the accessibility and usability of their websites; the value of accessible communications in helping to promote the inclusion of disabled citizens in the workplace was noted; and the importance of active engagement with disabled citizens and their representative organisations was highlighted, namely in order to gain more sensitivity and insight into disability issues and promote measures (e.g. consumer guides and comparison websites) that support better decision making by all end-users, in particular those with disabilities.

As for better regulation, it was suggested that NRAs need to have a more regular and open dialogue with other public entities about disability issues; NRAs were recommended to strengthen their cooperation with disability associations, consumer associations and with the private sector; and participants also discussed issues around “universal design”, (industry-led) technical standardisation and the possibly of re-examining the provisions that operators make to serve disabled customers.