Paris, Monday 15 December 2008
Today, Patrick Gohet, Interministerial Delegate for Handicapped Persons, Paul Champsaur, ARCEP President (represented by Edouard Bridoux, ARCEP Board Member), Jean-Marie Culpin, President of AFOM (Association Française des Opérateurs Mobiles) and Jean-Marie Danjou, General Delegate of AFOM, presented the concrete actions taken in 2008 and defined areas for development for 2009, in the presence of representative associations.
This process is part of a country-wide measure to improve access for everyone to information and communication technologies, a priority of the "France Numérique 2012" plan. Through his presence, Eric Besson, Secretary of State for Prospects, the Evaluation of public policies and the Development of the digital economy, wanted to mark the importance for handicapped persons of access to the digital economy and its benefits.
In France, 5.5 million people have a handicap, affecting one in five families. Since mobile telephones have become major tools which help handicapped persons become more autonomous, operators have committed to facilitating their access through a charter signed in 2005.
At end 2007, major manufacturers of mobile telephones—Alcatel (TCT Mobile), Motorola, Nokia, Sagem, Samsung and Sony Ericsson—joined them in this civil programme.
Commitment 1: To propose mobile telephones suitable for handicapped persons
Major progress was made in 2008, in particular:
- New test panels were organised in order to regularly update the list of mobile telephones suitable for each type of handicap
- Each operator offered between 15 and 25 mobile phones
- Mobile telephones became easier to use: new "mobile magnifier" software for the visually impaired enlarging areas of the screen, upgraded "vocal assistant" vocalisation software for the visually impaired and the blind, new touch telephones and PDAs with wide screens and the possibility of using a stylus for people with difficulty grasping, and telephone offers with GPS services.
Commitment 2: To develop the service offer to help increase the autonomy of handicapped persons
After establishing specific pricing offers and free services in 2006, operators went even further in 2008 with new dedicated service offers, like:
- Telephones with better performing vocalisation software
- Integrated offers including more SMS and MMS for the deaf and hearing impaired
- An experimental sales service accessible via Internet in French Sign Language and in text. Clients dialogue directly with an advisor in either video conference or chat,
- Generalised direct access to offers for handicapped persons on the operators’ web sites
- Extension of the "Handi-Cité" guide to the cities of Lille and Grenoble, listing over 4 700 wheelchair accessible sites
- Publication and distribution of over 12 000 invoices adapted to handicapped persons
Commitment 3: To inform the public of offers targetting handicapped persons
In 2008, communication was reinforced and can be seen in:
- The creation of a hotline for handicapped persons to analyse their complaints (by telephone and e-mail) and to improve the quality of response
- Greater distribution of information on all available channels with the creation of an audio CD to present mobile offers for the visually impaired and the publication of an item on how to prepare for a trip using one’s mobile phone item in the Petit Futé’s Handitourisme guide.
Commitment 4: To make constant improvements
Since 2005, the Charter’s signees have worked to make the most of technological advances to benefit handicapped persons with:
- The provision of Internet access keys via the mobile network from a PC, which help handicapped persons in their daily activities (making train ticket reservations, consulting weather reports, seeking information, managing bank accounts remotely, etc.)
- The development of "contact-free" technology for payments, "machine to machine" applications, in particular for health sector, and new software dedicated to developmentally disabled persons providing them with an electronic agenda with sound alarms.
Furthermore, operators continue to improve their reception of handicapped persons in existing sales points or by creating specific shops (271 new or adapted sales points in 2008).
The GARI database, flagship project for 2008
One of the key events of this year was the opening of the GARI (Global Accessibility Reporting Initiative) international database on 15th December 2008, created through close collaboration between mobile telephone manufacturers and operators.
GARI lists the best-suited mobile telephones for handicapped persons (screen sizes, key size, relief, sliding shape, flip, etc.). This free database can be accessed by the general public via Internet www.mobileaccessibility.info. Concretely, it provides users with information to help them find a telephone suited to their needs and to their handicap. The site also proposes "instructions" for activating and using the various functions of one’s telephone. More recent models (sold since 1st October 2008) will be added to the base.
The base is being launched internationally. GARI was created under the impetus of the Mobile Manufacturers Forum (MMF), an international association federating major players representing some 80% of global mobile phone sales: Alcatel (TCT Mobile), Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, etc.
GARI will be continuously updated by manufacturers.
Priority areas of work for 2009
- Improving reception of handicapped persons
- More information for vendors on existing services
- Sustained training for vendors
- Better accessibility to operators’ web sites
- Helping handicapped persons benefit from new technologic innovations to facilitate their accessibility to mobile telephony (contact free, GPS, etc.)
- Raising new operators’ (MVNOs) awareness of the accessibility issue and expanding the involvement of other players, particularly through the "ICT and accessibility" working group led by the Interministerial Delegate for Handicapped Persons
- Continuing actions initiated at the European level, particularly monitoring the work of the European Commissions’ "e-Inclusion" working group
Contact Eric Besson's Office : + 33 (0)1 42 75 56 54 / 88 39
Press contact DIPH
Press contact ARCEP
Press contact AFOM