While websites and many other services must be accessible to disabled people in the UK, the design of products is not subjected to the same regulatory requirement. So disability groups have joined forces to campaign for change.
A charter has been commissioned by the Alliance for Digital Inclusion (ADI), and developed by a consortium comprising RNID, the Disabled Living Foundation (DLF) and technology consultants Scientific Generics. It aims to ensure the future inclusion of disabled and older people in Information and Communication Technology (ICT).
The charter is very brief and stops short of asking for changes to the legal framework.
It calls upon industry to use inclusive design principles to create offerings that will be usable by disabled and older people; to be creative in reaching out beyond their traditional customer base so that ICT equipment and services are available and affordable for disabled and older people; and to ensure that customer-facing staff are aware of, and signpost to, ICT solutions that meet the needs of disabled and older people.
Government is asked to harness new technology to create a more equal society for all citizens and consumers. In addition to making sure the local and national government services are fully accessible and usable by disabled and older people, it is asked to provide a better funding framework for access to employment and education and for the subsidy of specialised access technologies.
The charter also encourages other organisations in the voluntary sector to identify and prioritise the requirements and challenges of eInclusion and raise awareness about the barriers that disabled and older people face.
Heidi Lloyd, a spokesperson for ADI, said: "By setting out a framework for change we hope to make a positive step forward to inclusion for disabled and older people. We recognise that technology can be both a cause of and a solution to exclusion. Through this charter, we hope to maximise the potential that technology has to offer everyone."