Rights of People with Disabilities Being Ignored by Cell Phone Service Providers

September 15, 2010

BURNABY, British Columbia, September 15, 2010 – Neil Squire Society survey results show that cell phone (wireless) service providers are not following a ruling set out by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (new window) (CRTC) to provide cell phones that are accessible to people with disabilities.

person with a disability using an accessible cell phoneThe CRTC ruling from August 2009 requests, “That, by 21 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 and/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.

So far, no wireless service provider is following this directive.

Cell phones are about so much more than just making phone calls,” said Dr. Gary Birch, Executive Director of the Neil Squire Society. “They’re about being able to connect to the world in a variety of ways through text-messaging, email, the internet, and even mobile banking. Most people take these things for granted, but people with certain disabilities who cannot use standard cell phones are left out of this form of communication.

The Neil Squire Society has recently launched an awareness campaign around this issue.

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 Canadian in Vancouver, Regina, Ottawa, Fredericton, and Moncton, as well as to many small communities across Canada via distance education.

If you’d like more information about this topic, please contact Suzanne Cross by phone at 604-473-9363 or by e-mail at suzannec@neilsquire.ca.

Distribution of this press release was generously donated by Marketwire (new window).