Press Release: Meeting the needs of older and disabled people: easy-to-use communications equipment, products and services

Copy of press release for ACOD project/report published today (and which I’ve been supporting):

Ofcom has today published research into measures that would encourage industry to develop communications equipment, products and services that better meet the needs of older and disabled people.

The research, commissioned by Ofcom’s Advisory Committee on Older and Disabled People, aims to understand how manufacturers, suppliers and retailers of UK communications equipment, products and services currently address the requirements of older and disabled people. It examines the barriers that exist and the drivers for industry to consider to better address those requirements.

Ofcom has a duty to encourage the availability of easily usable apparatus. The new research fills a gap identified in a 2007 audit on ease of use issues and investigates the efforts that companies make to incorporate inclusive design in their activities.

The main barriers identified include a lack of:

  • Senior leadership which supports inclusive design and development;
  • A systematic and proactive approach to inclusive design by some companies;
  • Dialogue and co-operation within industry and between industry and groups that represent older and disabled people to identify their requirements;
  • Access to information on the requirements of older and disabled people.

Participants in the research told us what might help to address the requirements of older and disabled people and the ideas that emerged were:

  • Procurement processes which require tenderers to consider accessibility and usability;
  • Better communication with stakeholders;
  • Wider access to information and mechanisms for sharing knowledge about the needs of older and disabled people;
  • Marketing of accessible products and services as an ethical choice.

The findings are based on in-depth interviews with senior representatives from the consumer electronics and the media products and services supply chain. Sectors sampled included broadcasting, telecommunications and online products and services.

The full research can be found here: http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/market-data-research/policy-related-research/usability-research/older_disabled/research/

Mike Whitlam, Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Older and Disabled People, said: “Players in the supply chain should learn from these findings. There are some measures that may require a concerted approach but there is much that companies can do themselves and now.

“We understand that there are commercial pressures, particularly in the current economic climate, but with an ageing population and many of us developing an impairment at some point in our lives there are also market opportunities and commercial prizes for firms that get it right.”

Ends.

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