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Towards the end of 2019, ACCAN started thinking about what a fully accessible communications sector would look like. We wanted to develop a roadmap of shared goals to illustrate what is needed to ensure all people with disability in Australia have full and equal access to communications technologies and services.

In developing the roadmap, ACCAN sought feedback from a range of organisations supporting people with disability. We asked three key questions:

  1. What communications issues do people with disability currently experience?
  2. What communications issues might people with disability experience in the future?
  3. What approaches could help address these existing and anticipated communications issues?

ACCAN’s efforts will be focused on the following priority areas in 2019-20. At the same time, we will be responsive to emerging issues, and engage with government and industry consultations in areas of significance for telecommunications consumers.

Our policy priorities were developed in close consultation with ACCAN members, and are informed by our knowledge and analysis of the communications market.

ACCAN believes that everyone must have equal, reliable and appropriate access to the emergency call service (Triple Zero) from a range of devices. Our position is that people should be able to use SIMless phones to genuinely contact Triple Zero as needed.

Proposals to reduce non-genuine calls to Triple Zero have included barring calls from SIMless devices. There are several situations when calls to Triple Zero appear to come from SIMless devices. ACCAN recommends more research into whether devices without SIMs represent a high proportion of all non-genuine calls made to Triple Zero.

Parts 7 and 8 of the Telecommunications Act ensure that broadband networks operate in a similar way, and to the benefit of consumers. They require network operators to offer services to any retail providers on request (offer open access on a non-discriminatory basis) and that they must be operated separate to the retail level (wholesale only). The ultimate aim is to ensure competitive networks exist that benefit consumer by increasing choice of retail providers.

Since 2012 Telstra has had an exemption from complying with these requirements in its South Brisbane Velocity network area. Other areas of Telstra’s fibre Velocity area are also exempt. These are scattered across the country, predominantly in areas of medium density population, including retirement villages, and greenfield developments (in Western Sydney, for example). These are areas populated with low income families, and older people on fixed incomes.

Our policy priorities are broad subject areas which identify the focus of our policy work for 2018-19. ACCAN's mission is to represent consumers and the public interest, with particular emphasis on the needs of consumers for whom the market is not working.

Our policy priorities were developed in close consultation with ACCAN members, and informed by our knowledge and analysis of the communications market and market trends.

For consumers, migrating their services to the National Broadband Network (NBN) can be complicated and any loss of services or functionality can cause significant risk to life and result in extra costs and inconvenience for consumers. This statement sets out key areas that ACCAN believes should be improved for a successful consumer experience.

ACCAN continues to call for the adoption of audio description (AD) across the Australian free-to-air market.

What is audio description?

Audio description refers to a verbal commentary used to describe key visual elements of a television program, film, or live performance or event. Identification of speakers, description of gestures, facial expressions, locale, scene changes, and other visual content are narrated. If dialogue is present as part of the program or event, these narrations are inserted during breaks in the dialogue.

After consulting with consumers and members ACCAN has developed its position to ensure all consumers can be connected consumers.

Connected consumers are able to do what they need through communication services. Without connected consumers there will be social isolation, reduced economic livelihood, insecurity and potential threat to safety. Focusing on connected consumers, allows us to ensure that communication services delivers for consumers, society and the economy.

Read the full article on Accessible ICT Procurement ACCAN is calling for a whole-of-government procurement policy for accessible ICT to enable Australians with disability to have greater opportunity for economic, social and community participation.

The Australian Commonwealth Government does not have a comprehensive procurement policy for the purchase of accessible information and communications technology (ICT). The negative roll-on effects of this policy gap have significant implications for the whole Australian community. In particular the ramifications of this ongoing policy gap continue to disadvantage and exclude some of our most vulnerable citizens with disability.