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Das Design kabelloser Komunikationssysteme sollte niemanden ausschließen


Shipley, Tony; Gill, John


Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB)


London: Eigenverlag, 2000, 32 Seiten, ISBN: 1-86048-024-1




A new era of telecommunications is about to begin. The issue of the first European licenses for 'Third Generation' mobile systems signals the introduction of wideband communications on the move. Personal portable terminals will handle data transmission of all kinds as well as conventionel voice messages. It will no longer be neccessary to find a fixed terminal to send a receive text and graphics, or connect to the Internet. The mobile phone will become a portable information terminal whose capacity is limited only by its ability to display informations to - and receive it from - its user.

For people who are elderly or who have disabilities, there are exiting possibilities in prospect. They should expect to share in the new information society on equal terms, freed from the handicaps associated with gaining access to fixed terminals and using them. But they will achieve this equality only if the systems and equipment of the third generation networks have been designed to take account of a diversity of abilities amoungst users. If this inclusive design approach is rejected, they will find themselves barred from access to the new services by network protocols and mobile terminal features wich serve to exclude them.

The infrastructure of the third generation network will be complex and expansive to set up. There will be reluctance to make material changes once they are operating Terminals and operation systems can be changed more easily, but only as long as compatibility is preserved. Therfore there are elements of the design of both networks and terminals which need to be considered very carefully at the outset. If this is not done, oppertunities to make these new services fullc accessible will be lost. Because of the highly complex technologies involved, this concideration of accessibility has to be made largely from within. What is needed to achieve this is a culture of disability awareness throughout
the entire telecommunikation industrie.

Such an awereness culture can be and must be promoted from outside the industry. Older and disabled consumers, as well as those who speak on their behalf, need to make their views and needs known in a climate of information expectation. Design information related to disabilities is currently incomplete and scattered over a wide range of specialist databases; it needs to be assembled coherently and updated. Reviews of Standarts and Guidelines need to encourage a pro- active aproach and avoid repetition of short- term solutions.

Legislators and Regulators have to consider wheter there is scope for any 'future- proofed' legaly binding requirements which could underline progress towards accessibility and inclusion. In so doing they will be aware of the danger, in areas of fast moving technology, of mandating familiar but obsolescent practices which could prove counter-productive. In those areas where anti-discriminatin legislation operates, it can be brought to bear to support inclusion. But it is preferable that suppliers of products and services should find in there own self-interest to take an inclusive approach to the design of whatever they offer. In that way they can market a better product, accessible to a greater range of consumers, without resort to the cost and inconvenience of special provisions or clumsy adaptations to reach users who could, with some thought, have been catered for from the start.

This is not to suggest that inclusive design is an easy or an intuitive process. Like quality, it needs to be imbued in a company`s culture and ethos. It calls for information about the potential consumers who are to be included, their needs there abilities and their expectations. Companies do not generally have expertise on the subject of disability and may find difficulties in applying inclusive principles. The process could be assisted by establishing a forum for the telecommunications industry where the issue of inclusion and accessibility can be freely discussed and information shared. The book reviews present and future technology and shows different ways to include cosumers with disability.

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Royal National Institute of the Blind (RNIB)

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Informationsstand: 13.07.2001

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