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At ACCAN, issues relating to accessibility have always been at the forefront of our policy and consumer education efforts. After celebrating our 10th birthday and reflecting upon the positive changes that we had successfully advocated for, we started contemplating what accessibility improvements ACCAN would like to see in the communications sector in 2020 and beyond. We considered the existing communications issues affecting people with disability and wondered what issues may arise in the future.

From this, ACCAN started developing an Ideal Accessible Communications Roadmap in consultation with the disability sector. Towards the end of 2019 and the start of 2020, we sought feedback from a range of organisations supporting people with disability. We asked about the top three communications issues that were currently affecting people with disability, the top three communications issues that contributors thought would affect people with disability in the future, and suggestions for possible solutions to address these existing and anticipated communications issues. Through email conversations, phone calls and group brainstorming sessions, we received responses from 35 organisations, including Disabled Peoples Organisations, advocacy groups and disability service providers, as well as nine individuals with disability who offered their own personal insights of their lived experience.

The insights offered by contributors illustrate that people with disability encounter a range of barriers to equal communications access. Many of these accessibility barriers cut across different parts of the communications sector. For instance, the lack of information provided in a range of accessible formats is something that relates to telecommunications retail service providers and internet service providers, but also more broadly to those developing online content, audio-visual content, digital inclusion training programs, and so on.

Based on this feedback, we developed a roadmap that outlines what it would look like if people with disability in Australia had full and equal access to all communications technologies and services. The roadmap encompasses areas such as the accessibility of telecommunications services and devices, online environments, and audio-visual content; the affordability of communications technologies; and the safety and reliability of communications technologies. ACCAN and others will use the roadmap to keep track of accessibility improvements within the communications sector.

ACCAN is proud to have a wide range of disability organisations as members, and as valuable contributors to and supporters of our work. We are looking forward to continuing to work with our members and the broader disability sector on issues affecting people with disability, and to collaboratively progress towards a fully accessible communications sector.

The Ideal Accessible Communications Roadmap is now available on ACCAN’s website. We encourage all our members and stakeholders to read the roadmap and to consider what you can do to help improve the accessibility of the communications sector for people with disability.