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Design for All - Text phones: Mandatory vs. voluntary approach
Thursday 8 September 2005

Design for All - Text phones: Mandatory vs. voluntary approach
Information from ANEC Newsletter; Number 72 - July/August 2005

Early this year, the European Commission consulted interested parties on the proposal of a regulation that will oblige manufacturers of text telephones to ensure that they are compatible with new and legacy models. ANEC expressed its complete support for the initiative aimed at enhancing access for older people and people with disabilities to electronic communications (ANEC2005/ICT/015). Present text phones are often not interoperable. This means that a deaf person living in a European country cannot call a friend in another country.

As a follow up, the European Commission Telecommunication Conformity Assessment and Market Surveillance Committee (TCAM) organised a workshop on the inclusion of accessibility requirements in emerging mainstream communications technology on 27 June 2005 in Brussels.

More than 25 different stakeholders attended the event, which aimed at considering the application of article 3.3 of the Radio Equipment and Telecommunications Terminal Equipment Directive (199/5/EC) on mandatory features in order to facilitate use by users with disabilities. The Commission decided that for the time being market conditions did not justify mandatory requirements for the interoperability of text telephones.

Two working groups came out of this workshop, one to deal with text communication and signing and the other with adaptability of mainstream products. The groups will start work at the end of August on their terms of references, followed by a meeting in December. The final results should be presented in March 2006 in Brussels.