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Information Society for all: Commission opens consultation to make ICT products and services more accessible

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11.01.2005 | Čítalo: 6969 | Diskusia: 2

Today, the European Commission has launched a public consultation on how to make the benefits of Information and Communication Technologies available to the widest possible range of citizens, including to older people and people with disabilities. This consultation is a first step in the Commission’s endeavour to remove the technical challenges and difficulties that people with disabilities and others experience when trying to use electronic products or services such as computers, mobile phones or the Internet.

“Information and communication technologies can be powerful tools for bringing people together, improving their health and welfare, and making their jobs and social lives richer and more rewarding”, said Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding. “But over 90 million EU citizens either cannot reap these benefits in full, or are effectively cut off from them because of age or disabilities. Making ICT products and services more accessible is thus a social, ethical and political imperative. At the same time, it makes sense economically. About 48 % of people over 50 years old in Europe today say ICTs do not fully meet their needs, but many of them also say that they would buy new mobile phones, computer and internet services if they could use them”.

The public consultation launched today focuses on three key areas in which the European Union could promote eAccessibility: public procurement, certification, and the use of legislation.

The consultation document argues that EU Member State public authorities should develop common requirements to facilitate the purchasing of accessible good and services. This would in turn create larger markets for “design-for-all”-products.

The consultation document also proposes to assess whether a certification mechanism should provide a quality label for accessible products and services.

Regarding legislative measures, the document notes that several EU Member States already have e-accessibility-related laws, and that there are indications that harmonising the relevant technical requirements across the EU could help to make these laws a more powerful driver for change, while at the same time promoting interoperability and preventing market fragmentation.

The consultation document finally considers a number of support measures, such as the development of eSkills, the further deployment of ICT Research for promoting eAccessibility, as well as monitoring regarding web accessibility and the development of digital TV.

Interested parties have until 12 February 2005 to comment on these proposals. The results of the consultation will feed into a Commission Communication on eAccessibility to be adopted before June 2005.

Further information:

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