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Ottawa, 26 January 2011

File No.:  8665-C12-200807943

DELIVERED BY EMAIL:

To: Attached Distribution List

Dear Sir/Madam:

Subject:   Follow-up to Broadcasting and Telecom Regulatory Policy CRTC 2009-430 Accessibility of telecommunications and broadcasting services (the Accessibility Policy)

This is to inform you of recent action undertaken by Commission staff in relation to the accessibility of mobile wireless handsets.  In the Accessibility Policy,[1] the Commission requested that the Wireless Service Providers (WSPs), in consultation with persons with disabilities, offer by 21 October 2009 at least one type of wireless mobile handset to serve the needs of people who are blind and/or have moderate-to-severe mobility or cognitive disabilities, noting that it would consider imposing a section 24 condition in the future if necessary.

Since that date, the Commission has received a number of complaints regarding the lack of availability of accessible mobile wireless handsets.  In response to these complaints, Commission staff requested the WSPs to provide information pertaining to the handsets that they offer in compliance with the Accessibility Policy.  The WSPs supplied and updated the information requested by staff.  The Neil Squire Society also provided comments.[2] The Commission has continued to receive such complaints, most recently in January 2011.

The Commission has contracted with the Ontario College of Art and Design, Inclusive Design Research Centre for a series of reports that focus specifically on the following key areas:

  • Needs Assessment – Identification of the needs of persons who are blind and/or have moderate-to-severe mobility or cognitive disabilities, the feature sets that support these needs, and the gaps, if any, as to how these needs are being met in Canada.  This includes an assessment of the information provided by the WSPs pertaining to the handsets that they offer in compliance with the Accessibility Policy;
  • Gap Analysis – For identified gaps, identification of the technologies and best practices from other jurisdictions that can be applied in evaluating handsets for accessibility needs and communicating requirements to manufacturers; and
  • Emerging Developments – Promising technologies, trends and practices of interest to WSPs in supporting and promoting accessibility, as well as any business and technical trends that could create barriers to accessibility in this domain.

The final report is expected to be delivered to the Commission by the end of March 2011 and will subsequently be translated and placed on the Commission’s website.  If, after receiving the reports, the Commission deems further process is appropriate, parties and complainants will be notified accordingly.

Please do not hesitate to contact the undersigned if you have further questions.

Yours sincerely,

ORIGINAL SIGNED BY:

Martine Vallee
Director, Social & Consumer Policy
Policy Development and Research

c.c.    M-L. Hayward, CRTC 819-953-727

Distribution List:

Bell.regulatory@bell.ca; regulatory.affairs@telus.com; document.control@sasktel.sk.ca; iworkstation@mtsallstream.com; regulatory@bell.aliant.ca; regaffairs@quebecor.com; ken.engelhart@rci.rogers.com; garyb@neilsquire.ca; Regulatory@sjrb.ca; michel.messier@cogeco.com; Regulatory.Matters@corp.eastlink.ca

[1] http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/archive/2009/2009-430.htm, paragraphs 40 to 46.

[2] This information is available at the following location:  http://www.crtc.gc.ca/PartVII/eng/2008/8665/c12_200807943.htm