Policy positions

Read the full article on accessible programming on TVAustralians with disability need greater access to television. ACCAN is calling for the implementation of Audio Description on free-to-air television and increased captioning across commercial television networks.

Australians with disability continue to struggle to have meaningful access to television.

Young woman upset at phone billThe ACOSS Poverty in Australia 2014 report indicates that an estimated 2.55 million (13.9%) of Australians are living in poverty. Current Australian research indicates that many low-income consumers are facing financial barriers in getting connected and staying connected to essential telephony and broadband services. Research also indicates that low-income consumers are spending a significantly higher proportion of their income for telecommunications access.

Guage showing Megabits per secondBroadband plans are commonly advertised on headline speed claims which may only be achievable in ideal test conditions and are not what consumers should expect in real world everyday use. Claims are qualified with an elusive list of factors that can affect performance, but this is difficult for consumers to engage with or apply to their service. This issue is heightened with nbn and the promise of faster and better technologies and services.

Consumers being protected

ACCAN's policy position on a customer service and reliability standard

Access to reliable communication services is vital for Australian consumers and is essential for social and economic participation.

The 2015 Regional Telecommunications Independent Review Committee (RTIRC) found that existing safeguards (e.g. Customer Service Guarantee (CSG)) focused on delivery of the Standard Telephone Service (STS) were of "rapidly declining relevance."

This is due to the shifting consumer preference toward mobile and internet based communication. The Committee recommended the Australian Government, in consultation with industry and consumer groups, develop a new safeguard in the form of a Consumer Communications Standard.

This policy position addresses consumer concerns about existing customer service and reliability measures, and proposes a new model for the future. It is a step towards a new Consumer Communications Standard.

The first version of Our Broadband Future came out in 2010, but ACCAN is pleased to report that despite new government policy directions and many debates over recent years, the four key principles on broadband espoused in our original statement have stood the test of time:

    1. Broadband for all.
    2. No consumer should be worse off during the transition and following the implementation of the National Broadband Network (NBN).
    3. Robust consumer protections and consumer engagement.
    4. Sustaining a competitive and fair market.

ACCAN, along with a number of Australian disability organisations, recommend that all governments, businesses and organisations immediately remove all inaccessible CAPTCHAs from their websites and replace them with accessible alternatives.

ACCAN and CHOICE's joint position statement on mobile commerce outlines the key consumer protection principles for m-commerce in the Australian market.

The mobile phone is arguably more important than the fixed phone line for personal and business communications in regional and remote Australia, but users without reliable mobile coverage are missing out on this communications revolution. ACCAN has advocated strongly on this issue for a number of years and believes that the Australian Government has a vital role to play in improving mobile coverage in regional and remote Australia.

Cloud computing has the potential to transform the way individual consumers and small businesses store and use data, potentially saving time, money and effort. You may already be using a cloud computing service like Hotmail or other web-based email services. However, cloud computing involves risks for consumers that must be carefully managed.

In response to emerging concerns around issues such as illegal downloading, ACCAN believes consumers’ interests must be represented in relation to copyright policy. As the peak consumer body representing communications consumers, we think it is important that we clarify our position on these issues and explain how we arrived at it.

This position statement has been issued by peak disability and consumer groups regarding the two proposed mobile emergency services for people who are Deaf, hearing-impaired or with speech impairment or complex communication needs (CCN). We stand together in calling for a simultaneous implementation of bothan SMS emergency service and an emergency service provided via a smartphone application.

ACCAN, in alliance with Australia's peak disability organisations, is calling for the federal government to implement a whole-of-government procurement policy for accessible information and communications technology (ICT). Ensuring that all government workplaces and services are accessible for people with disability will provide tangible benefits for the whole Australian community and economy.