TRAI has issued accessibility guidelines for information and communication technology. This follows a consultation process that was started last December, and an open house discussion by the regulator in April. TRAI recommended that a steering committee should be formed with multi-ministerial representation, where guidelines for ICT accessibility can be put out and implementation can be monitored. TRAI also said that closed captioning should be made available on TV and internet content.
TRAI recommended the following.
- Disabilities as specified in the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act (RPwD), 2016 are comprehensive and do not require any modification for formulating policies for enabling ICT access to PwDs. The following are the disabilities that the RPwD Act specifies:
- A Steering Committee under the aegis of Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities be set up with various ministries’ representation to form guidelines and monitor implementation.
- ITU recommendations on closed captioning and easy and inexpensive availability of PwD equipment should be adopted. Closed captioning on TV and the internet should be implemented.
- The government should mandate the device manufacturers/importers not to curtail the accessibility features available in popular operating systems in any manner from their devices (manufactured or imported in India). An undertaking to this effect may be taken from manufacturers/importers. (TRAI cannot regulate consumer electronics directly; all it can do is recommend things to the government, as it has done here.)
- Telecom providers should make changes in Customer Acquisition Forms (CAFs) to accommodate PwDs.
- TSPs, MSOs and DTH operators should have special desks in their call centres/customer support centres to handle calls from PwDs using assistive technologies.
- To facilitate accessibility of emergency services by PwDs, separate desks in each Public Safety Answering Point [to be set up following earlier recommendations made by the Authority on 07.04.2015 regarding “Integrated Emergency Communication and Response System (lECRS)”] should be set up where attendant executives should accept calls/SMS/Social Media calls from PwDs and provide them assistance. The desk would also have a Relay Centre to cater to requests from deaf and speech impaired people.
- TSPs, MSOs/DTH and PSAP operators to provide sensitivity training to their executives to deal with issues of PwDs.
- Percentages of channel content should be developed in an accessible format for PwDs with audio and visual impairment have been prescribed; with 50% of the channels to be developed in an accessible format by the next five years.
- By the end of 2020, all mobile handset manufacturers producing 5 or more different models should produce at least one mobile handset satisfying accessibility criteria for PwDs.
- Set Top Box (STB) manufacturers/importers should make/import at least one model in different variants of STBs in an accessible format by 2020.
- The government should create and maintain a database of devices and ancillary equipment satisfying prescribed accessibility standards.
- The government should mandate that lCT products (Computer Hardware, Mobile Phones, STBs) procured by Government agencies should be accessible to PwDs and should have associated support documentation and services III accessible format.
- All Government websites to be accessibility compliant to the PwDs.
- Department of Telecom (DoT) and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) to instruct TSPs and DTH/MSOs should conduct awareness campaigns regarding accessibility issues, design, affordability, availability of assistive tools and products and about various Government policies/schemes pertaining to accessible lCT that can be availed by PwDs.
Read the recommendations [PDF]