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The Australian Communications Consumer Action network (ACCAN), the peak body for communications consumers in Australia, congratulates the Federal Government on its inclusion of 'accessibility' in the current Request For Tender (RFT) of ICT Hardware and other Services.

Acknowledging 'desirability' of products and services to meet international best practice standards of accessibility will help ensure that digital information and services provided by government agencies will be accessible to Australians with disability.

 ACCAN, along with many disability organisations, has worked to promote the adoption of a whole-of-government policy for the procurement of accessible ICT.

"ACCAN funded research in 2012 highlighted how Australia was trailing behind other comparable countries such as the United States and those in the European Commission in public procurement of accessible ICT," said ACCAN CEO, Teresa Corbin. "The inclusion of accessibility as a desirable requirement in the current RFT will help to bring Australian Government agencies in line with international best practice while helping to bridge the digital divide many Australians with disability still face when trying to engage in our growing digital society."

Research indicates that when Government's mandate procurement of accessible ICT the benefits include greater economic and social participation and increased employment opportunities for people with disability. It also results in more accessible ICT products and services in the broader marketplace and less likelihood of becoming a dumping ground for inaccessible ICT products.

"Since first raising accessibility in ICT public procurement in a TEDICORE submission to the Regional Telecommunications Inquiry in 2002 and regularly since then, I applaud this important step by the Australian Government and look forward to continued inclusion of accessibility criteria in future relevant Requests for Tender. ACCAN, the Human Rights Commission, the Australian Public Service Commission and many disability organisations who I have liaised with on this issue over the years have all stated that this will make a difference to streamlining and potentially increasing employment for people with disability," said Gunela Astbrink, a disability advocate and researcher said.

Gunela Astbrink and Dr Will Tibben of the University of Wollongong completed the ACCAN-funded research project - Government ICT Purchasing: What Differences do Accessibility Criteria Make for People with Disabilities? - in 2012 and have written a prize-winning article in the Telecommunications Journal of Australia on accessibility in ICT public procurement.

"Introduction of new systems without consideration of accessibility is the cause of many problems for Australians with disability," said Dr William Tibben. "Our focus group research found many examples of new systems being implemented that could not be used with screen reading software making them inaccessible for government employees who are vision impaired."

Wayne Hawkins, ACCAN Disability Policy Advisor added: "This is a great move by the Government in acknowledging the benefits accessible ICT provides for Australians with disability. It is particularly important as we move to a digital first economy that Australians with disability will be able to participate."

For more information, please contact Luke Sutton on 0409 966 931 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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