Neil Squire Society Comments on Recently Announced Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Commission Policy on Accessibility of Telecommunications and Broadcasting Services

January 14, 2010

BURNABY, BRITISH COLUMBIA–(Marketwire – Aug. 4, 2009) – The Neil Squire Society is pleased with the recent the Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Commission (new window) (CRTC) ruling on the accessibility of Telecommunications and Broadcasting Services which addresses a range of important issues. In particular we are encouraged with their ruling which requests, “That, by 21th October 2009, all WSPs (Wireless Service Providers) offer and maintain in their inventories at least one type of wireless mobile handset that will provide access to wireless service by persons who are blind and/or have moderate-to-severe mobility or cognitive disabilities.” Additionally, “The Commission requests that WSPs consult with parties representing persons with disabilities on an ongoing basis to determine which handsets they will make available to address the needs of persons with disabilities. Also in consultation with these groups, the Commission requests that the service providers provide reasonable technical and lifecycle support of these handsets in order to address unique needs, such as those imposed by assistive technologies.”

“We look forward to working with the cell phone service providers to ensure they have accessible handset devices across the full range of persons with disabilities,” says Dr. Gary Birch, Executive Director of the Neil Squire Society. “However the CRTC’s rulings did not address several significant issues that were raised by the disability community during the hearings.”

“In particular, the need for resources for community-based disability groups to be effectively involved in the ongoing process of creating accessibility resulting directly and indirectly from these hearings was not addressed. This is essential to ensure users with disabilities are appropriately involved in making current and emerging technologies and services accessible for all persons with disabilities. The CRTC has made an important step forward in addressing the needs of people with disabilities, but a properly funded and formal ongoing engagement process is necessary to ensure that people with disabilities are not left behind as new technologies and services are introduced.”

Dr. Birch adds, “We will continue to work with the CRTC, industry and other community-based organizations to continue the work of developing a funding model and putting it into place. This will enable the required level of effort to ensure that Canadians with disabilities can achieve and maintain full access to telecommunication and broadcast technologies.”

About the Neil Squire Society

The Neil Squire Society is the only not-for-profit organization in Canada that for the past 25 years has used technology, knowledge and passion to empower Canadians with physical disabilities. The Society has developed innovative programs and services and some of the world’s leading edge assistive technology for people with physical disabilities. More than 20,000 people with disabilities in Canada have benefited from the work of the Society. With about fifty staff, the Neil Squire Society has offices and provides services to Canadians in Vancouver, Regina, Ottawa, Fredericton, and Moncton, as well as to many small communities across Canada via distance education.

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