Global project to improve access to mobiles for disabled and elderly

 

A new global information service to help people with disabilities or functional limitations find suitable mobile phones was launched in Australia today.

 

The mobile phone industry, in response to requests from disability groups for improved information regarding disability, has developed a worldwide information service for reporting the accessibility features of mobile phones.

 

Called GARI (the Global Accessibility Reporting Initiative), the project includes a new website - www.mobileaccessibility.info - which will allow consumers to search for a mobile phone model that suits their specific accessibility requirements.

 

The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, launched the new database at Parliament House in Canberra.

 

Mobile Manufacturers Forum (MMF) Secretary General Michael Milligan said: “Improving access to mobile phones for people with a disability and older people is very important because these are the members of our community who can most benefit from instant communication with family and friends. Mobile phones have many features that can assist, and GARI is designed to highlight those and help people find a model that will meet their needs.

 

“GARI will make mobile phone use more accessible and will give consumers more choice when looking for a mobile phone to meet their specific needs.”

 

The Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) CEO Chris Althaus said: “The GARI project represents a new approach to reporting on the accessibility features of each mobile phone model. This includes a comprehensive 90 question accessibility features template detailing every feature of a new phone, from screen, font and button size to audio and volume controls.

 

“For example, people with limited or low vision, or who are blind, may find useful a phone that flips open and answers automatically. Or for people with arthritis or limited dexterity, a ‘candy bar’ of ‘stick’ phone may be useful to avoid the need for added movements, such as sliding or flipping open the phone to use it.”

 

Mr Althaus said AMTA would prominently display the new website on behalf of its members to assist Australians with a disability gain access to mobile telecommunications equipment that suited their particular needs.

 

Working together to remove barriers to the benefits of mobile phone use is an important goal for both the mobile phone industry and disability support groups, Telecommunications and Disability Consumer Representation (TEDICORE) National Co-ordinator Gunela Astbrink said.

 

“Mobile phones are marketed on fashion trends and generally the advertising only highlights the latest technological advancements. Important information regarding the usability and accessibility of a phone is not always available. GARI will help change this by providing consumers, especially those with a disability or who are older, with a dedicated website and improved information about handset accessibility options,” Ms. Astbrink said.

Mr Milligan said: “The GARI project will improve awareness and knowledge of the accessibility options that are available on mobile phones. We welcome further feedback and ideas from disability groups to improve the project as it is implemented globally.”

 

View the databases here.

 

ENDS

 

Media Contact information:

 

Michael Milligan, Secretary General, Mobile Manufacturers Forum: +852 6204 6219

Randal Markey, AMTA, (02) 6239 6555 or 0421 240 550.

 

Note for Editors:

The Mobile Manufacturers Forum is an international association of telecommunications equipment manufacturers with an interest in mobile or wireless communications.

 

The Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) is the peak body representing the mobile telecommunications industry in Australia. Its members include carriage service providers, handset manufacturers, retailers and infrastructure suppliers.