Research and investment priorities for the digital economy and development of internet services and mobile devices must reflect the needs of disabled and elderly people, a telecommunications expert has warned.
In a video address to a London event on the future of accessible ICT research( bit.ly/T0SkH2 ), Dr Mike Short, vice president of Telefónica Europe and former president of the Institution of Engineering and Technology, said customer demand for more accessible services has risen over the past ten years. Accordingly, mobile network providers need to think about different groups of users when planning for future growth, including the benefits that universal design can offer to everybody, Short said.
Internet access from mobile devices is also increasing, and developments in smartphones and tablets have made it easier for people with a sensory impairment to use these devices, said Short, citing larger screens, more adjustable font sizes and increased use of touch-screen technology.
However, direct information from these groups on their priorities when using digital services and mobile devices is needed to aid research and ensure that future services are developed appropriately, he said. “What we don’t always have is the right range of inputs or priorities from the accessibility community, those people who are in some way suffering difficulties through hearing or seeing or other issues”.
Similar input is also needed from people who are ageing and people with long-term health conditions, Short told delegates.
Speaking to E-Access Bulletin before the event, he said mobile apps needed to become more “generation-friendly”. “We need to move towards a world of inclusion and internet for all, where we’re talking about everybody having access and a much more inclusive range of digital services available”.