Making mobiles accessible
Mobile phone makers have developed a website to help people with a disability choose a phone. The website explains different features available on phones that are not usually advertised. Disability groups asked for more information to be available. Australia was the first country to launch the website.
Posted by: Joanne Richie, on 01/12/09
New features make mobiles accessible
One in five people around the world has a disability. In recognition of this, mobile phone manufacturers have banded together to improve the accessibility of mobile handsets.
The Global Reporting Accessibility Initiative (GARI) is a project of the Mobile Manufacturers Forum (MMF). The Mobile Accessibility website (opens new window) outlines the range of features mobile phones now have that improve accessibility for people with a disability.
The forum provides information about mobile phones in a different way to traditional marketing and promotional activities.
Frank Nowlan, an expert on telecommunications and disability, believes the initiative is an important step.
The problem was that too often people with a disability looking to purchase mobile phones were faced with a lack of information about accessibility features which would be of use to them, he says.
Gunela Astbrink from the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network says mobiles are traditionally marketed using fashion trends and
the advertising only highlights the latest technological advancements.
Important information regarding the usability and accessibility of a phone is not always available, she says.
Mobile phone manufactures and others in the telecommunications industry say they are now changing their practices. This is being done in response to requests from disability groups who were seeking better information about the features of mobile phones.
In Australia, the Communications Alliance is also finalising a revision of industry standards. The standards will ensure that information about the accessibility features of mobile phones is available to consumers.
The Global Reporting Accessibility Initiative has not been mandated by the Federal Government. But it does have the support of the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Stephen Conroy, as well as the Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities, Bill Shorten. Australia was the first country to launch the website.
Senator Conroy says helping people understand the features of mobile devices and services that meet their needs
will go a long way to improving accessibility.
Improving awareness about these features will boost the ability of all people in the community to enjoy the benefits of mobile communications.
Some of the features on mobile phones which can assist people with a disability include:
- The ability to use the phone in hands-free mode
- Tactile markers on the keypad
- Adjustable font sizes
- Voice commands
- Keypad shortcuts for common tasks.
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