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Smartphones for people with disabilities

Smartphones for people with disabilities

2013. 11. 27.

Inmaculada Placencia-Porrero, Representative of the European Commission (European Accessibility Policies) promised that the sign language and captioning pilot project – initiated by MEPs Ádám Kósa and Werner Kuhn at the European Parliament with 750.000 Euro financial support – would be launched just before the next European Parliament election in 2014 creating a more barrier-free communicative world for the hearing impaired.

MEP Kósa pointed out that according to findings the smartphone turned out to be the most important product ever beating the television, the car or even electricity. Only in the third quarter of 2013 455 million mobiles were sold around the world, including 250 million smartphones. Based on estimations the market of mobile pay is rapidly increasing, too. “People with disabilities cannot be left behind during this development” – said Ádám Kósa. Referring to his own example, he added: “In the past decades the deaf had been excluded from the usage of phones but today they can again be involved in mainstream communication thanks to the smartphones”.

Robin Christopherson, Head of Digital Inclusion, AbilityNet shared the thoughts of Mr Kósa. He presented a couple of Apple apps which help him as a blind user on a daily basis. His phone can serve as an eye as any object can instantly be identified by the camera and the device reads out the relevant information about the object features. “Thanks to mobile devices, the gap between disabled and non-disabled users is diminishing” – he underlined.

Jean-Daniel Ayme, Vice President, European Telecom Operations at Samsung Electronics – who actually flew to Brussels for this event only – also presented innovative applications which have been developed specially for the deaf and the blind but are useful for non-disabled too; for example the automatic scanning and reading out of any printed text.

Sabine Lobnig, Mobile Manufacturers Forum (MMF) demonstrated the Global Accessibility Reporting Initiative (GARI) project that helps people with disabilities to decide which mobile device suits their needs best.

In his closing remarks MEP Ádám Kósa reminded that he, as an EMPL Committee responsible, submitted numerous successful amendments to the cohesion policy’s legislative package that was adopted last week in Strasbourg. As a result, the new legislation will improve accessibility-related requirements and info-communication standards during programming and implementing of projects co-financed by the European Union after 2014.