Open Standards: Ensuring accessibility and inclusiveness

16 September 2010 - A Workshop on Openness in Vilnius, Lithuania

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Note: The following is the output of the real-time captioning taken during Fifth Meeting of the IGF, in Vilnius. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the session, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.




>> PRANESH PRAKASH:  Good afternoon, everyone.  We will wait for another five minutes and then we will start.  We are just giving time for all the people to switch between the different sessions that they are attending.

(Please stand by.)


>> PRANESH PRAKASH:  Good afternoon, everyone.  My name is Pranesh Prakash, I work with the French Internet Society and this workshop on Open Standards:  Ensuring Accessibility and Inclusiveness is being organised by both the Dynamic Coalition on Accessibility and Disability and the Dynamic Coalition on Open Standards.

I would like to set the frame ‑‑ today actually I would like to just say who all we have as speakers.  We have from my right, we have Nasser Kettani from Microsoft, Shadi Abou‑Zara, and Eddan Katz who works with the Electronic Frontier Foundation.  And so we are waiting for Ms. Catherine Trautmann, MEP, who will join us as soon as she finishes her prior appointment.

Now the Tunis agenda notes a commitment to the need for open standards in Government applications.  It's often on this basis that we placed our demand for open standards and specifically while it contextual ices this as a means of ensuring progress towards the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations which we hope are to be achieved by 2015.

Now, open standards are necessary to develop an equal system of platforms, applications, and content that serve in our, and are served by persons who are disadvantaged and margin naturalised and as a means of ensuring accessibility and inclusiveness, to put it in a positive frame.

Now, today we will be looking both at technological and design considerations when we are thinking about standardisation and accessibility as well as the policy implications and how we move beyond the issue of desirability of open standards to actually implementing it in different fora.

So first I would like to call upon Mr. Vint Cerf of Google to lay out the technological and design considerations of accessibility and how that relates to open standards.


>> VINTON CERF:  Thank you very much.  I appreciate the opportunity to participate in this topic.  I'm hearing impaired.  This is an important subject for me.  I resonate with people who are looking for help in getting access to online information in a way that is suit the to meet their needs.

Let me start out by observing that there are a wide range of particular problems faced by any one individual in a particular category of, let me use the word disability even though I don't like it very much.

For example, in the case of ‑‑ my case, I'm hearing impaired, but I wear hearing aids and I try to function in a normal hearing environment.

This environment that we are in right now is particularly difficult.  And I have been benefited by some of the other rooms where I can stick a head set on and plug into the system.  That's an example of adaptation to help me.

So I think first thing we need to accept is that even for a particular category of problem, there may be a variety of different responses that are needed for particular needs.  So there's no one solution to deal with someone who is visually impaired or no one solution that satisfies someone who is hearing impaired, et cetera, or movement impaired.

So that diversity puts some very heavy load on the way we think about how to do accessible online systems.  My colleague at Google, TV Rahman happens to be blind.  He's an active participant in accessibility discussions and engineering.  He's an active participant in the standards process.

And he and I share a common conceptual model for how to make applications accessible.

And we separate these applications into the body part, the functionality of the application, and the head part.  The head part is how that application is presented to a particular user and we accept that the, you may need different kinds of heads in order to present that application to a particular user who needs a particular kind of accessibility help.

For example, if you happen to be color blind, you need to have the presentation not depend on particular colors that you can't see.  If you are blind, then you need to have the presentation done in a way that you can hear because you may have no other way of finding out what the application is, what it is doing, what it can do for you and what it is doing now.

So this head and body idea turn out to be fairly important because there are some optimistic souls who believe you can build an application with the kind of standard interface for the "normal user" and then you somehow perform a standard mechanical transformation of that standard user interface and magically it takes care of anyone who is blind or visually impaired or hearing impaired and what have you.

TV Rahman and I don't believe there is always a standard transformation that will lead to a positive outcome.

Moreover, I think we believe that these applications, the interface to the user, needs to be sufficiently malleable that it can adapt to particular user requirements.

Let me give you one example.  It has not been implemented by Google.  So I don't know want to mislead you, but it is a technology that I learned about reasonable.  This one is called hearbot.  This is a little piece of software which allows the hearing impaired user to cause the audio output of the application to be filtered and amplified at different frequencies to match the things that you can't hear or even shifts the output of audio to a range which you are capable of hearing.

That has to be adapted by individual users.  So there's part of the hearbot application actually allows you to say:  Yes, I can hear that.  Or no, I can't, please shift it to different volume or frequencies.  The interface, of course, for that is a big challenge alone just to help somebody adapt.

The idea of using software which is tailored and tailorable to individuals I think is very important for any kind of successful accessibility.

I am going to just make two other specific examples and then stop.  One of the things that Google has done recently is to take our YouTube videos and where we have English language sound tracks that are not too obscured by heavy metal rock bands in the background, we will attempt to do automatic captioning of those YouTube videos.

Of course, it's not perfect.  We are making heavy use of our speech recognition capability which was originally developed for other purposes.  For example, talking with your mobile to online querying systems that could answer questions like:  How do I get from where I am to this restaurant?  Please give me step‑by‑step instructions.

That speech recognition capability has been fairly well developed for English language.  It's less well developed for some of the other languages.

We will automatically caption YouTube videos and if the users of YouTube request automatic captions, we will put them up.

Now, I have to admit to you that sometimes we get very funny results.  At one point the party in the YouTube video said "and with this service you get a free sample."

And our transcription software said:  With this service you get a free salmon.

And there was something fishy about that.



>> VINTON CERF:  I'm sorry, bad pun.

What we have done, however, is to make available to the provider of that YouTube video the actual transcript and the timing track of the consent of the spoken content of that video.  You can edit that to fix our mistakes and re‑upload it into the system.

Once you have a good quality English language sound track, you can then translate that into different languages.  This is the beginnings of our attempt to make doesn't in YouTube ‑‑ content in YouTube accessible to people who are deaf and people who don't speak English.

There are other things that we do and I am going to stop there and say that this is a rich area for research, development, and experimentation and it absolutely is an important area for development not only for people who might have disabilities, but also for people who will benefit from having access to these things.  For example, for someone who, for whom English is a second language, having captions can turn out to be quite helpful.  I stop you there, Mr. Chairman, and I thank you for allowing me to intervene.

>>:  Thank you very much, Mr. Cerf.  I would like to call upon Shadi to present.


>> SHADI ABOU-ZARA:  Just before I start, a small point of order.  I do not represent the Dynamic Coalition on Accessibility and Disability here.  I don't know how much coordination has been with the organisers of this event.  I am a participant of that Dynamic Coalition, but I'm here representing W3C, the World Wide Web Consortium.

I want to talk about why things are important to us at W3C.  The Web has been essentially built on being open and only was so successful because of its openness.  That is one of the key assets, the openness.

Importance accessibility in particular, open standards reduce the costs tremendously of being able to provide tools such as browsers, for instance, authoring tools; but also assistive technologies, being able to have royalty free standards in which we can provide assistive technologies too is one of the important effects for persons with disabilities to have the affordability aspect.

Some of the assistive technologies can be very, very expensive.  Even though there are open standards variance.  Having the selection is only possible through the royalty free and open aspect of the standards.

Another important aspect of open standards is the participation issue.  We can have the participation of people with different kinds of disabilities participate in the process, being able to contribute their needs and their requirements because, as Vint said, it's such a broad area with different needs, different preferences as well.  Some people who are deaf know sign language.  Others don't.  Others know sign language and prefer not to use it.  Others ‑‑ and so on.

So there is this whole range of needs and preferences that we have to put in account.  We can only take this into account if we have an open system that allows participation and allows us contribution.

And finally, another thing about open standards is it allows innovation.  It really allows the community to participate and to feedback ideas and thoughts and approaches like the body and head idea that was just raised.  To that respect, to the body and head idea, one thing I do want to raise is, what is often forgotten in the equation when we are talking about Web accessibility is the role of what we call the user agents, the browsers and media players, the things that actually go and access the content and provide it to you.

It is very often seen as what the Web developer needs to do.  The Web developer needs to provide this and that navigation or provide this and that color contrast.

There are requirements, there are guidelines for the user agents that are very often neglected.

Actually, the browsers have hardly changed since Netscape 1.0.  Of course, they've gotten much better.  They've gotten more standards compliant, but I think there's a lot more potential in the browsers to be able ‑‑ very, very simple example.  Now browsers have things like the speed dial where you can just click, for instance, on an image of the Web site rather than type in the URL.

This helps me a lot, but it helps my mom, who I recently was trying to help her learn how to use the Web much more because remembering Web addresses is a huge barrier for her.

So the point I'm trying to get across is, I think when we are talking about the Head of an application, we really need to recognize the role of browsers here and the untapped potential that we still have and the user agent guidelines there.  Thank you.


>> PRANESH PRAKASH:  Thanks, Shadi, for underlining the points of both affordability and access as well as innovation and the need for open standards as apart from just standards in this area.

Next I would like to call on Nasser.


>> NASSER KETTANI:  I work for Microsoft and my role is to look at standards and interoperability in the East African region, which means that I have not only very specific knowledge to the issue, but also specific passion to the topic, obviously.

At Microsoft we look at the accessibility from real responsibility issue.  In fact, our commitment to accessibility starts back from our mission statement, which is to enable people an businesses around the world to realise their full potential.

And I want to stop there because we really look to ICT as one of the enablers for people to do what they want to do, for businesses to do what they want to do.

For us, it is an opportunity and responsibility to address the larger population that could leverage ICT and really, the way we look into it is we look into it as a mainstream opportunity rather than like a niche market and this is how we look into how we build our products, how we build our services and technology going forward.

Just an example, when we did some research, recently we found out that actually more than 60 percent of the population, actually IT users could benefit from accessible technologies not only people with specific disabilities.

Which means that for the industry as a whole, it provides a huge opportunity to address that market not from kind of a niche specific, but globally.  I tend to agree with Vint on this, on his talk about, you know, everybody can benefit from technology and these technologies not only people with disabilities.

That's how I would look into it, an enablement.

On the open front, our experience shows that the best way to address the matter and best way to address the market is to look into it from a global ecosystem rather than just one provider going to market and providing technology.

And this is where open standards play its role.  We look into it as who are, how does the ecosystem look like.

And it is not about one vendor providing technologies that are accessible but also how do we enable others to build on top of what we do so the ecosystem gets much bigger.

This is our view about what standards can enable and how we can enable our partners.

I think as Vint said and of course as our friends say, we are at a major technology shift.  And we believe that innovations in this domain are yet to come.  I think we haven't tapped yet into the full potential of innovation.  This is why for us we believe in interoperable standards to achieve that potential and so there are a few things we have done to support that.  One is we actually took our accessibility APIs and technology and we put them under the open specification promise.

What that means is that we enable everybody to build on top of those APIs and we do that for free.  So we, even for those that have patents, we enable them to build and develop on those technologies, including, of course, the open source community.  We can build that larger ecosystem of vendors.

Also for the commercial ones because we believe that, we believe in freedom of choice.  We believe that anybody wants to bull technology should have the freedom of choosing the best business model and the best licensing model that they want to adopt.

What we have also done is we looked into where are these standard being developed?  Where are they being developed?  We looked into different places.  I soft, for example, is developing the standards in the S3 community in SJC31 and for that we are an active participant and we invite other people to join that effort and again, the open standards are about open collaboration, open participation and I think this is an opportunity for others to join the efforts.

And of course, you know, standards as WIC and developed in W3C together.

The other piece of building the ecosystem is about how we collaborate.  It's not only about standards.  It's not only about technology.  It's also about how you collaborate across the industry, how we collaborate with NGOs, how we collaborate with organisations like G3ICT, the DAISY Consortium, we work with local NGOs in different countries, in Tunisia we work with BASMA to do specific global things to work with the requirements.

To for us it is three pillars:  It is about enablement, it is about opening the technology and making it available to others to build a larger ecosystem and also about collaboration across all stakeholders to make that happen.

Thanks for the opportunity.


>> PRANESH PRAKASH:  Thanks, Nasser, for that.  I would like to call upon Eddan Katz to give us a policy angle to this talk.


>> EDDAN KATZ:  Okay.  I probably don't even need a mic.

Thank you.

I'm from Eddan Katz from the Electronic Frontier Foundation and we have done work, especially recently in regards to the copyright issues that arise especially on the policy level regarding eBooks and text.

And I would like to just describe a little bit of that and make some observations about the state of policy debate in regards to a proposed treaty for the visually impaired that is now being considered in the standing committee on copyright and related rights at the world intellectual property organisation in Geneva.

I'll start with where that is so that I can at least suggest the urgency of broader section of the community interested in accessibility and computing to become interested in this policy debate because I think it requires fewer lawyers ‑‑



>> EDDAN KATZ:  ‑‑ to make it happen.  At the recent SCCR, standing committee on copyright.  It was an historic moment in that nothing happened.  I know that's not necessarily unusual at the UN, but in this particular case at the SCCR, there wasn't even a report that was written because there wasn't agreement on the conclusions of what took place during the week.

>>:  What is SCCR?


>> EDDAN KATZ:  It is the Standing Committee on Copyright Rights.  The politics behind it I don't think are as much about this, about the accessibility, but the broader copyright wars and the effort on the international stage to move forward norm‑setting on exceptions and limitations to copyright as a, ascertain standards.

This is relevant to the library community and they have developed a set of model laws and norms that should be implemented in order to facilitate greater access in libraries all over the world.  It's also of great concern to the education community in open educational resources.  That's also something that we work on closely at EFF.

But the first part of this three‑stage process of moving norm setting at WIPO is the treaty for visually impaired which was developed by the world blind union in coordination with many other groups, including knowledge ecology international, significantly; but also a whole host of groups including DAISY Consortium.  I will be talking about standards, don't worry.

That's where the DAISY Consortium comes in.

So there's concern among copyright, certain parts of industries that are based particularly their value of their products on copyright protection.  I mean by that the entertainment industry, book publishers, record ‑‑ the record industry ‑‑ no longer records, but the music industry.

So there's this larger debate which should explain why it was so contentious because I don't think it's the accessibility issues.

There's a concern that a perception that introducing limitations and exceptions to copyright, making it so that there is a limit to the copyright protection, that someone doesn't have to ask permission to do something with a certain file or product, they don't have to pay licensing for a certain file or product in the accessibility case.  If someone does need to modify a certain, whether it be text or video or whatever, whether they need to ask for permission or when using a particular technological device, whether that needs to be licensed.

The exceptions and limitations in general are intended to make that flexibility more possible in removing the barriers that are based on licensing for their use.

So in the context of eBooks it's a very sad case that there's something like 5 percent of the books available in print are available in a format that is accessible to readers in the United States and in Europe.  And in the developing world it's less than 1 percent of books available.  I think that the term coined by this reading rights coalition that is pushing for the treaty for visually impaired as the book famine is an apt one.

It is provocative, but I think accurate as well.

In an era where there is such technological capacity for modification and adaptation, it is indeed tragic that it is copyright licensing that is in the way of these books becoming available.

So the problem of the availability of books in accessible formats was brought to WIPO in the world intellectual property organisation.  I should describe that the stakeholders platform was immediately implemented.  The WIPO reacted well, saying that we do need to address this problem.  It is a problem that needs to be addressed and they created a stakeholders platform and the participants included the DAISY Consortium and blind union and developers including book publishers and others and they are working on certain detailed engineering tasks that need to be worked out to make eBooks more accessible.

In the meantime, though, and this is happening behind closed doors and there is some limitations on and some disappointments in that process, but the norm‑setting part.  That is, establishing some minimum levels of exceptions and limitations that have to be implemented as part of the balance of copyright all over the world in different countries, this is what is being stalled in the political process.

Back to the stakeholders platform.  I won't talk or be able to talk as well on the standards problems that they are addressing from a technological sense, but I do know that the recent work as reported in the stakeholders report on trusted intermediaries is of relevance and should be important to people in this room and should raise a lot of suspicion in the sense that if the technology is there and capable of modifying and enabling accessible formats, that should be the end of the story.  It arrives at someone's laptop or desktop or what have you, special device, and if it's available on the free and open Internet, then it would be possible.  The framework, the process and the entire notion of how the distribution of copyrighted works for the visually impaired need to take place, I think is just upside down as it has been discussed even in the stakeholders platform.

The trusted intermediary notion is that in countries around the world the distribution of books that are in accessible format need to be done by a particular entity in that country that is trusted and the definition of trusted is sure to include the approval of the publishers and of copyright holders, which I also think is not consistent with the theories of copyright but nevertheless these trusted intermediaries are the ones that can distribute accessible works to those people who are presumably in their ‑‑ there are different ways in which this happens in different countries ‑‑ are registered.  They are formally, according to certain definitions, reading disabled.  They are the ones that are able to get these books.

The underlying concern which is not said but we raised, the EFF raised in the latest FACR, the concern is if there isn't some intervention either through trusted intermediaries as the distribution or with the digital rights management, the technological tools to prevent distribution without registration, that this would lead to mass privacy on the Internet and works that aren't through trusted intermediaries would flow freely.

I pointed out the pressure and the concern ‑‑ I started with the fact that they didn't even agree on what took place during the week.

To just call it out, the concern is that the blind will be the ones who will facilitate the mass piracy of eBooks.  Those who are proponents of that point of view are wrong and have no empirical data and should also be ashamed for pushing those positions without admitting to it.

So the, there is a treaty which is available.  All of this is available from the WIPO Web site, WIPO.EMT.

There is action taking place at WIPO.  There's a vision which is focused on this problem and there is attention paid to it.  I think it fails in misunderstanding the fact that in this era the modification should happen at the individual level and should not be subject to asking for permission or an intermediary.

There's a lot to say about this policy stall, but I think it would be more interesting to have that as part of the discussion, but I would welcome people and organisations interested in accessibility issues to pay attention to this particular policy debate because I think it really does touch upon the fact that accessibility and I look at it from a legal point of view in the U.S.  Public accommodation is sort of the notion that things should be made available and made in such a way that they can also be used by people with one disability or another.

That happen at the organised level, that that's not the way we need to look at it in this context.  It is not public accommodation.  The individual should be able to modify it to their needs and the kinds of disabilities and modifications ha are necessary are actually quite broad.  It's not just those who are legally blind who will need to make changes in their texts in order to make them perceptible.

The examples of the, not necessarily the elderly, but people who need larger print.  People who need to change the contrast in color.  I can go on and on.

These small modifications, the idea that copyright is in the way of text and in this particular case being perceptible because of licensing problems, even though we have the technological solutions available and easily distributable is tragic when we see that the end result is this book famine.

I will be happy to answer any questions and look forward to learning more about the particular issues on the panel.


>> PRANESH PRAKASH:  Thank you so very much, Eddan.

I would like to raise the issue of specially designed formats as an issue in copyright law.  And other things like audio books for persons and inclusiveness goes just beyond the question of accessibility for persons with disabilities in that sense because audio books would help I will illiterate people.  So there are so many other things that we have to consider.  We will come to that a little bit later.  Thank you very much for your presentation.

Now I would like to call upon MEP, Catherine Trautmann to speak to us about the policy situation in Europe and how we can get open standards, how issues of Accessibility and Disabilities are playing out there and how we can push for open standards.


>> CATHERINE TRAUTMANN:  Thank you very much for the organisation of this workshop because sometimes these questions are supposed to be minor questions or for very specific population.

But I will show in the debate in Europe that it is not the case.  I'm very glad that you in the IGF we can also speak of very important political issues of the moment.

So to see how we can do to offer a better access for people who have disabilities because it is not immediately the preoccupation of member states.  It is always a fight, I must say.  Always.

And we need to have a strong coalition in the European Parliament with NGOs to oblige Governments to accept the parts of amendments we have on these questions because they think like other questions for example medicines for very rare illnesses, you know.  They think it will be very expensive for a few people, if I can speak very frankly.

So we open systematically the debate about cultural industry, industry itself and ICT, of course.  But also because you have all the questions of the life that is the access to, you know, information, the access to school, the access to culture, the access to sport, access to sexual life and so on.

It is now very important period for us because we construct a strategy with the NGOs and we wanted to obtain some results on research and it was the case with the previous framework programme and now the question is about standards.

Our intergroup about disabilities is modeled on the question of standards.

So what is the situation today?  In the period just one year ago, the question was to vote on the text which could put the access at the front of all the directives which are given, which give the regulation for TICOs.  In article 1, in the first paragraph of this article 1 says this directive establishes harmonised framework for the regulation of electronic communication services, electronic communications networks, associated facilities and associated services.  So everything.

Around certain aspects of general equipment to facilitate access for disabled users.

So disabled users are concerned at the top front of the directive and the group of directives about all the services.  Technical or services given to the population.

In the digital agenda, after the debate we had, and it's too long to explain the debate, but you can imagine.  In the digital agenda which was proposed by the Commissioner and was presented just in the period now, we have by harnessing the full potential of ICT, Europe could much better address some of its most acute societal changes, climate changes, other pressures on our environment, aging population and rising health costs, developing more efficient public services, and integrating people with disabilities, digitising Europe's cultural heritage and making it available to this and future generations and other things.

So on the top of the digital agenda, this is a strong issue, a priority, if I can say.

And it is also said there is also need for concerted actions to make sure that new electronic content is also fully available to persons with disabilities, in particular public Web sites, online services that are important to take full part in public life should be brought in line with international Web accessibility standards.

This is to be able to be linked to international, of course, platforms.

Moreover, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities contains obligations regarding accessibility.

It was decided that the digital agenda will be in conformity with this UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

So it is an application which must be systematic and it is said so.  Systematically evaluate accessibility in revisions of legislation undertaken on the digital agenda.

Now it is not only the TICO package but every directive which can be linked to Internet or electronic communications.  Every text is concern, but not only legislation, but programmes of action like directives like eCommerce, eIdentity, eSignature, and this to find a correct application for this international, from the nation ‑‑ from the United Nations conventions.

Based on review of options made proposal by 2011, so this is now the work to do, that we will make sure that public sector Web sites, Web sites providing basic services to citizens are fully accessible before by 2015.

So we wanted to give an agenda because we know the problem.  You know, if you don't give an agenda, there is always another priority.  So now we work now on standards and after that, we need to see and evaluate.

In 2015, facilitated by 2012 in cooperation with member states and stakeholders a memorandum on digital access for persons with disabilities in compliance with the UN Convention.

This is the period in which there will be a dialogue and work together with NGOs on these questions.

This is very important why?  Because when we see what was said after in the text of the digital agenda, that is on R & D action, work with stakeholders to develop a new generation of Web‑based application and services including for multilingual content and services by supporting standards in open platforms through and for the programmes.  We know in the text of the commission it was open standards and platforms.  Now it is standards and platforms.  Why?

Because there was a debate in the commission and between the member states, just as it was said before excellently by our speaker, because the countries which are very attached to intellectual property rights, they refuse that we can emphasize the importance of open standards even these type of problematic access, you know?

So but of course we have the tools because we can link the text, about the telecommunications, the agenda and other texts.  Because we are obliged to take this preoccupation in every text.  So we have the legislature, we have the tools to oblige the member states to accept.  We did it in the directive television without borders, the member states refused the mention persons with disabilities for the access to television and programmes of television.

And they were obliged to accept it because it was a very big fight.

Why is it so difficult?  Because in the moment the debate is about some international agreement as actor, about counterfeiting.  It is about piracy and about IPR.  This is in the same moment and we have the experience of the battle between the tenants of IPR and the open sources and open standards and we don't have, we didn't have the capacity to finish the debate and to have a solution.

So it's a sort of, you know, disaster because for years nobody could be able to pop the discussion.  Now we have a fundamental debate.  That is, what is the right which is upper to the other?  It is in fundamental rights, the right of persons with disabilities to access freely.  So with open standards to the contents, to activity and so on.  Is it a priority, you know emphasized in the understanding of fundamental rights or is the right to the property a right which is superior to the rights of these persons.

So it is not finished because in fact the rights of the persons is something very important because it is the case law the right of people with disabilities must be taken as such and not cut.  And I think it's impossible.

So I think we have some tools for the debate.  But you must know that during this period we vote next week on an initiative report on intellectual property rights and this can be a pity for our debate.  This can be a pity.  Because the people who want to defend property rights, they use every possibility for that.  And this gives such a silly game about it.

So we know that we have our agenda and we will jump in, in all the possibilities to obtain the result we want.

Frankly, thank you for those who can explain also in the WIPO that the subject is not just to crush the property rights, but it is to open the capacity for these people to have access and open standards.

Now, a necessity.  It's silly just to consider that the debate is between two fighters, property rights and others.

But you spoke about the eBook and the libraries, but you must know also that when Google come and have some agreements with some libraries in cities in Europe, they don't help our cause, you know.  Because they did it in such a way that it could be a problem.

So there is also a question about the way, the private sector can come in in a public cause.  It must be a public interest for all that persons with disabilities can have the access through open standards.  That's it at the end what Google explained, it's public interest that persons with disabilities can have a better access through open standards.  We shall see because I think it's difficult to argue against.



>> PRANESH PRAKASH:  Thank you very much, Ms. Trautmann.

So we are in agreement that accessibility is not a niche consideration.  That when we are talking about inclusiveness, we are referring to a large swathe of people.  We are talking about the aged who find it difficult to remember Web addresses.  We are talking about the illiterate.  We are talking about persons with aural and visual impairment if not complete disability.

And we also understood that it's very tricky to standardise while keeping away from the temptation to over specify and ensuring that things are flexible enough for different forms of accessibility so that in response to different forms of accessibility and that this isn't just a technical consideration; that this is necessary for people to take full part in cultural life.

Now, I have a few questions that I do wish to pose to Panelists.  But before that I would like to see if anyone, either remote, any of the remote participants or any of the participants right here have any questions for us.

So I saw ‑‑ okay.  I saw your hand going first.  I would like you to please introduce yourself and, to introduce yourself, your affiliation and then the member of the panel whom you are asking the question to and then state your question.  Thank you.


>> CYNTHIA WADDELL:  Thank you.  My name is Cynthia Waddell, Executive Director for the Accessibility of ISOC on the Internet.  My organisation is accredited at WIPO for the ongoing discussions right now that you have raised.

I want to commend you for putting together this panel, number one.  You are talking about the cutting edge issues that are out there affecting my community of persons with disabilities.  And I want to echo that call that there is a dire need for the technology expertise to be in this public policy debate, both on the intellectual property rights and the rights of persons with disabilities, both at the European digital agenda effort and also at the WIPO effort.

I am a nongovernmental entity.  As an NGO, I don't have funding to put myself as a person with a disability and a lawyer by training, to be in these Forums to put my voice forward.

But I would echo with you to say, you know, this trusted intermediary is based on an archaic law, based on paper books.  And our organisation, we are a member of the reading rights coalition and I was privileged to attend one of the meetings.  Haven't been able to attend any other for funding reasons.

But we, the NGO has been following globally what has been happening regarding electronic textbooks, both in the U.S., what happened with the Kindle, the Department of Justice shut down before they got the text to speech feature.

I just wanted to point out that with the technology solution that enabled us to have, to mainstream accessibility features into mainstream products was an exciting, wonderful technology solution to bring accessibility to the rest of us and to be ‑‑ it would be an awful result if some copyright issue, archaic copyright issue went forward that squashed the innovation that is happening in technology right now.  And the greatest ‑‑ so that has been my greatest concern.

I am not a technologist.  I'm a public policy person, but I watch the great things that come through innovation and again, I just want to echo your call for participation of the technology community in this debate because of the technology solutions.

Now, back in 1998 when President Clinton held the first national conference on the digital economy, there was a paper written on the growing digital divide for access for persons with disabilities and that paper talked about how accessibility should not be proprietary.  It should be open.  And there was a reason for that.

So I just want to again echo my appreciation for your being here and echo that call for participation in the technology industry to get in there and break this log jam that is going on in public policy debate based on archaic law and archaic understanding and really a lack of understanding of what technology can do.

The one piece that WIPO, the people don't understand about, that I will just throw out, is this current issue where if I'm a library in Washington, D.C. and I want, I do not have an accessible version of a great book written by a Spanish author, that I cannot take that book and make it in accessible format to a person with a disability if they need it.  I have to contact the country of origin and I have to have a trusted intermediary in that country create the accessible version of that.

Resources are having to be doubly spent in order for that book to come back to the U.S.  There is not a free flow of information.  If books are stopped at the borders because of copyright issues based on, that prevent persons with disabilities from having access to culture and access to information.

So I'll leave it at that.  I'm sorry, I took up a lot of time.


>> PRANESH PRAKASH:  Thank you very much.  I think Mr. Cerf wants to respond quickly.


>> VINTON CERF:  I would like to get in the queue.  I suggest you get the other comments.


>> PRANESH PRAKASH:  Okay.  So a few other things that I want to just throw up as issues that others can also address from the audience, if possible.  One, the issue of technological protection measures which Eddan had raised within the standards for accessibility.  Then the question of, if we can have some reflection also on what Forums should we be looking at both from, to encourage good principles for standards design as well as to encourage good policies to enable these standards to actually fulfill their potential.

And also however much I try to avoid such a need dichotomy and this isn't a need dichotomy, at least through this workshop we seem to be facing up against copyright and patents versus access, innovation and inclusiveness.

Now, quite surely proprietary formats can also be accessible and quite surely openly developed formats can also be inaccessible.

However, we have to admit that the development of the standard, the process through which the standard is developed, if it is open, it encourages persons to address issues of accessibility and if what is finally brought out is openly usable, then it encourages the use of that standard, of that technology by persons suffering from disabilities, by all people, frankly.

So those are just some more ideas that I would like reflection upon.

And Jonathan?


>> JONATHAN ZUCK:  Yes.  Obviously I don't have problems with my voice.  My name is Jonathan Zuck with The Association for Competitive Technology.

A lot of important issues have come up in this panel.  My 82‑year‑old father while I haven't cleared this with him I'll share that he has trouble with both his eyes and ears at this juncture.

And we try a lot of different things to address them.  One of them is that he now has a Kindle.  He's no longer trying to read the newspaper with reading glasses and magnifying glass at the same time and making my mother wait four days to read the newspaper.  He has a hearing aid with a list price of $1,500, something like that, but through a series of subsidies, insurance, et cetera, that price is brought down to affordable yet still expensive for my father's depression mentality, but he waited a while to get it.

A couple points need to be driven home.  We don't need to assume that the tolls available for the disabled are necessarily going to be free.  There is in fact a lot of R&D and testing and things that go into these technologies and we have to make sure that we strike a balance between making things available and also incenting the people who are going to create the new technologies.

I have a special affinity for the kindle in particular because it was one of my members in Paris that came up with that technology and was purchased by Amazon.  My father was contemplating dangerous surgery on his eyes and freaking my mother out.  When he got the Kindle, he decided not to get the surgery.

These are serious issues, but innovation in both of those instances, there's patents involved in his Kindle and the hearing aid that we shouldn't be dismissive.  There are plenty of people with disabilities who are creating IPR as well.

I want to make sure we have a balanced discussion about these issues and while open standards are important and play an incredibly important role and fundamental standards like XML that are translatable very easily, in some cases alleviate the need to have so many specific standards developed because you can get at the underlying information.

Open standards are very important, but they are not a panacea.

When you can't count on people implementing standards to implement them in an accessible way.  One of the very first pieces of legislation that came into being mandating open standards was in Massachusetts.  Which was really an attempt to prevent lock‑in by Microsoft Office in Massachusetts.  It's completely understandable, but one of the first communities to object was the disabled community because the competing products that implemented the standard that was being mandated had not yet implemented any accessibility features.  Some of these accessibility features come as a function of market competition as well and it's not just everyone's generosity that leads to them.

I think these are all things that need to be taken into consideration.  It's a real balanced test around all of these issues.

So let's ‑‑ I don't want to be contrast, but it's very importance ‑‑ crass, but it's important not to be too glib about the role that intellectual property and innovation plays on the side of access to the disabled.


>> PRANESH PRAKASH:  So I would just like to underline that point, that open standards are important, but are not a panacea and I completely agree, but I actually don't really understand that talk about the balance, okay.

Because I don't see some of these as competing, especially the point of when we are looking at persons with disabilities ‑‑ now, in India a blind person is very unlikely to find a job that pays well, unlikely to buy a computer, unlikely to be able to buy jaws which sells for $1,000 in U.S. in India and is a very high amount.  It's not a question of striking a balance.  It's a question of whether people have fundamental access to certain things or not.

And so I would just like to highlight what I would ‑‑

>>:  (Off microphone.)

>>:  Mic, mic.


>> PRANESH PRAKASH:  I would like to make the point and allow other people to comment as well.

What I said earlier in the main session today is that open standards are very often a necessary condition for many things, but are almost never a sufficient condition.  I think that jaws ‑‑ jibes well with what you say open standards is important.


>> JONATHAN ZUCK:  Sometimes it prevents the entry of innovation into the marketplace.  The policy that was set in place in Massachusetts didn't prevent office from being procured by the Government because they now have a standards compliant format.  The Kindle, however, can't be procured by the Massachusetts Government because of the policies in place because it has a proprietary format.

So the mandate of standards can be just as exclusionary if we are not careful.  That's all.  That's what I mean by a balance.

I would like to see Panelists address that.


>> ANDREA SAKS:  My name is Andrea Saks.  I know a lot of the people in here.  My hat today is, I'm the Coordinator of the IGF Dynamic Coalition on Accessibility and Disability, which I would like you all to join so the IGF gets a bigger message when there's more people.

I want to say, people have to have an imagination about how to market.  The same thing could happen to the publishing industry as happened to the record industry, to the CD industry.  There is an artist called Prince who was a clever character.  He takes his CDs and puts them in newspapers in the U.K., which is where I saw this, and gives them away.

And then he then sells tickets to his concerts which he does all over Great Britain and cleans up.

The publishing industry, when you hold on to something and say:  It's mine, mine, mine!  It never goes anywhere.  If you give it away and say:  Hey, it's yours, take it.  It becomes the world.

If you have a million and one pennies, it's worth a lot more than $100 on 100 items.

They are not getting it.  The more it goes out there, the more it is worth, the more you make.

I think this is the biggest problem with proprietary standardisation that happens not only for publishing, but for telecommunications, for ICTs and I adore you for saying everything you said.  Thank you very, very much.

I was in rapt.  Please join the DCAD.  I need you.  I'll pass this over to the next person.


>> PRANESH PRAKASH:  There's a gentleman in the back who raised his hand first.


>> AUDIENCE:  Hi, my name is Arthud Katia from Thailand ‑‑ I'm just a messenger.  I found that in another room they are talking about U.K. IGF.  They say that they are going to make a universal design to be the approach for the U.K. IGF.

I think it's very interesting when we are talking about accessibility, it's here.  When thinking about everything well‑rounded, it' going to be like universal design, right?

Well if you're interested maybe you have a shot with people from the U.K. IGF.  Thanks.


>> PRANESH PRAKASH:  Thanks, Arthud.

One final comment from the audience and then we'll go back to the panel.


>> AUDIENCE:  Actually, I didn't have a comment.  I had a question.

So the first thing would be that the gentleman ‑‑


>> PRANESH PRAKASH:  Please introduce yourself.


>> AUDIENCE:  Mikkel ‑‑ Director of Internet Society Netherlands and the Board of Accessibility INL, an organisation that checks on performance of accessibility.

The first question for the person from Microsoft, if you look at the concept of book famine, information famine in general sorts, Microsoft is a big proponent of DRM and DRM is basically, would you consider it to be the elephant in the China shop of accessibility and access to information?  Because it is hurting a lot.  The fact that you guys as a major technology provider provided out of the box makes it difficult for people to contribute because it's there, it's easy to put stuff in silver light and people have to start fighting that they want to listen to the football commentator that presents the football match, but they have to have DRM encrypted version so they can't record it or submit it to Google so they can't get the captioning so they can't listen ‑‑ read actually the football comments as they come in like we have here.  It's immensely valuable to have realtime stuff available, but the fact that a company like Microsoft provides it makes it very difficult for people to undo that.  So that was my first question.

The secretary one is you mentioned that you have three pillar at Microsoft and some of the pillars tend to conflict a little because you have the role of a platform provider.  So you provide a platform in which other people build software, not necessarily platform only for ‑‑ software only for that platform.  So the gentleman in the back already described a situation where other people have software that is accessible on other platforms, like for instance open source Argus has been accessible on platforms like Linux, but it is not open, it is not an open standard.  You give and say you can implement our thing and if you rebuild your stuff to look like ours.  There is no collaboration with the other players.  That's the other pillar, with the other players where you can define a standard that everybody can work with.  So for instance you write something in XML.


>> PRANESH PRAKASH:  Could I ‑‑ so I think we will divert back to the panel now and Mr. Cerf has been in the queue first.


>> VINTON CERF:  Thank you.  Those are thought provoking comments and I appreciate them very much.

I want to make a couple of observations, one that has already been made.  Because something is an open standard doesn't mean it solves the problem.  So we need to be careful not to, I think you said it correctly, that it may be necessary but not sufficient.  It's even arguable whether it's necessary.  It depends a lot on how the standards actually work.  If there is an open API, for example, then independent of the internal implementations of the API allows you to provide for accessibility.  That may turn out to be a helpful step.

So we have to get the, the standards have to be right to enable accessibility.

Second, I would like to point out that we too often tend to associate accessibility with disability.  And here I think I want to reemphasize that isn't necessarily the case.  Language translation is a good example.  I don't consider myself disabled because I don't happen to speak Lithuanian.  The Lithuanians may think I'm disabled because of that, but I simply don't have that capability.

So I am benefited when translation is available.  So I think we want to be careful not to not too narrowly define what accessibility means.

I wanted to point out something interesting technologically.  We are preaching the point now where the objects, the media that we think of in the past as books, movies, videos, DVDs as distinct and separate things are starting to blend in a very odd way in the Internet environment.

So Bob Kahn and I many years ago and Bob continues to pursue the notion of digital objects.  These are more or less anything you can digitize.  They might have the interesting property that they are wrapped up in a form that you can't necessarily penetrate, but they are external interfaces allow you to say such things as:  Please render yourself in audio form.  Or please render yourself in large font.  Or please supply me with your print version.

And there may be conditions under which some of these requests might require payment and in other cases conditions where they don't.  This is intended to be very abstract observation, but what I find interesting about this is that if we create objects of this type and let us say they are lodged somewhere in the Internet, it is possible that those parties who are concerned about the replication and distribution of the objects might keep them wherever they are in the net and you could remotely say please render yourself in this fashion.

So if I needed an audio presentation, I might be able to get it streamed through the Internet.

Now, I recognize immediately the problem.  If you're not connected to the Internet or if the connection isn't adequate, the streaming result isn't satisfactory.  Yes, I understand that.

But what I'm trying to get at is the technologists need to open up as much as possible the range of things that you could do in order to make things accessible while at the same time struggling with this question of digital rights and control over intellectual property.

We all understand, I hope, that we are ‑‑ we have breached the technologies of the past.  Paper is no longer the only way in which printed material shows up.

Now, to make things worse, these segregated media of the past are blending together on the net so that the thing we thought of as a book now might play little bits of video, have some audio in it, have interactive properties with spreadsheets that you can plug now and use.  These are no longer objects that can be managed the way we used to.  They really require computer‑based, software‑based rendering in order to make them useful and accessible in the most general sense of the word.

So I think that one of the challenges for those of us in the technology world is to figure out new ways of helping people produce intellectual property that can be made more accessible.

Let me stop there and say that I think I'm very optimistic about our ability to do this.  Of course, the question will be getting the lawyers and the technologists together long enough to stop fighting over the old rules and figure out how to make new ones that will compensate people for their work.



>> PRANESH PRAKASH:  Thank you for that excellent response.

Now, Nasser has a comment.


>> NASSER KETTANI:  I would like to address the questions that were directly addressed to me.

The first is about the DRM, et cetera.  You know, we respect intellectual property of others.  And in that sense, you won't find us providing technology that will allow people not to, you know, respect intellectual property parameters.  That's fundamental.

Can we change the DRM to do things better?  As Vint said, allow people to provide contents which are on one side accessible on the other side and respect the IPR?  Certainly we can do that.  But we still have a fundamental belief that we as a company, we need to respect the IPR of others and also we need to have others respect intellectual property and we provide the tools to others not to do that.  That's a fundamental belief.

On the second question, I think this is, you bring different things.

The first thing I would like to say which has been, there is a lot of confusion when we say open standards.  There's a lot of thinking an open standard is free and it's free to implement, et cetera.

I need to make sure that, to address that first.  An open standard is a standard is a standard that has been developed in a process that is open, where different people come together and agree and come to consensus.  That's what an open standard is.  That's what ITU does and many other organisations do.  It doesn't mean that it doesn't have any intellectual property.  In fact, that is how many standards around the world have been developed.  It doesn't mean that all standards are that, but there are standards that have that are either Rand or Frand, I don't want to go into a lawyer discussion, but when I talk about ISO and ITU discuss about open standards and open standard has been developed in an open process.

To the discussion on technologies and how we are making them available, in fact what we have done through those APIs that provide accessible technologies, as I said we made them available for free.  So they are open in your sense, right?




>> NASSER KETTANI:  They are almost an ISO standard.  They are not proprietary Microsoft ownership.  They belong to by ISO.  There is a process in ISO to make them a standard, as other technologies in that space.  That's one.

They are free for others to implement.  We are actually working with Novel to make those APIs available on Linux, okay?  So we are providing the licensing, the technology, the support and the funding to make that happen.

So in this very space we have gone very far in terms of making those APIs available so that others can use those technologies on cross platform, not only on Microsoft Windows.


>> PRANESH PRAKASH:  Thank you very much, Nasser.  I have a few follow‑up questions, but first I would like to get Panelists ‑‑ let's keep this discussion going.  I think this point ‑‑ do you want to address this point?  Let's keep that going.


>> EDDAN KATZ:  Well, I'll say something briefly on the last exchange on open standards, but make an observation in regards to the relevance of the IPR debate and think that just as we reached some new ground on the technology side, I think we shouldn't rehash the debates that are had sort of about music and this kind of stuff because this is a different circumstance.  I'll explain why in a very serious way.

In terms of open standards, I think even the most constricting description of what an open standard might be would not limit itself to its development and even if it wasn't, didn't include the notion of royalty free, although I think many definitions might, it also includes the use of the standard.  So to constrict it to even just how it's developed I think is outside of even the range of what people are talking about in regards to open standards.

And I am suggesting that there is a range of what people define as open standards, but constricting it to how it has been developed is, I think, too narrow to even fall within that scope.


>> PRANESH PRAKASH:  No, it is included.  I'm saying it doesn't mean it is royalty free.  That's my main point.


>> VINTON CERF:  This is as you might imagine an interesting area.

One observation one might make is that an open standard is one defend, one definition of open standard is that it's freely available to practice the standard without any further licensing or possibly with a royalty‑free license.  I accept there are other views of this.  Let me start with that and point out that even in that case, the implementation of the standard might not be free.  You might in fact have claims about how you implemented the standard.  So just because the standard is open and royalty free doesn't mean that its implementations stay that way.  That is not necessarily a bad thing.  What is important, there are opportunities for multiple implementations and people can make them for free or not.  It's up to them.  That's why Google or Androids or chrome are made for free.  It's in our interest to do that.  Other people might have a different view.

I worry when there are barriers to implementation of standards.  If there are barriers, it prevents them from a primary purpose, that is to achieve interoperability and to allow parties to work together even if there isn't a bilateral agreement to do so.  The enabler is the one who permits that to happen.

We don't want to get lost in the open standard debate.  The thing I hope we can get at in the remaining time is what steps could be taken in order to make a lot of the content of the World Wide Web more accessible in the more general sense of the world.

I'll give you an example of how technology might help.

In the case of the open captions that we do on YouTube, the implementation has a very peculiar property.  We don't combine the video and audio with the captioning.  They are distinct and separate objects and they are delivered in a time synchronised way.

But the fact that they are distinct objects means that you can modify and do something to compute on the captioning piece, which means that you can translate it from one language to another and then in synchronous way present it.  We can switch from English to German to Russian to other languages without having to do anything to the audio and the video because the captioning stream is an independent object.

When we start thinking about both the blending ability of the Internet to deliver multiple things as if they were all one unified object, and the ability to operate on these things independently, we open up quite a variety of possibilities for people to help make things more accessible.


>> EDDAN KATZ:  On the intellectual property side, I'll try to say it really quickly.  I think that the balance that is suggested and the importance of innovation, there's two different answers to that.  On the innovation side as a legal matter and as a matter of norm‑setting in the world, it's not to require ‑‑ and in the case of the treaty for the visually impaired, it's not to require open standards.  If someone circumvents a standard in order to make it accessible, that should not be a violation of the law.  I don't think that undermines innovation in any way.  It specifically allows for the use of products, whether they have proprietary elements or not in an acceptable way without having to ask permission or without having to pay a licensing fee.

What is really important about the issue and the book famine being a term that is important.  When we talk about the innovation and how we need to talk about balance, it's in those circumstances where the market can solve the problem if we were to adjust the market and create certain licensing circumstances.

It has been demonstrated that there is market failure that is, that can't be surpassed in regards to accessibility of works in the developing world.

So that the adjustment in licensing, the adjustment will not solve the problem.  I understand and I emphasize that WIPO is also enabling a licensing platform that will make a lot more works available and they will put publishers finally once under ‑‑ once on the hot seat, to make those deals and to make them available.  Nevertheless, this is one circumstance why we shouldn't be rehashing other debates and bringing paranoias from other, from the piracy wars.  The reading disabled in developing countries, no matter what kinds of adjustments we make, the circumstances are such that they won't have access to works unless there's the removal of the obstacles of licensing costs and permission to circumvent in those circumstances.  And I think we should appreciate that fact and have those other debates about adjustment in licensing and innovation in other areas.

But this is a community and this is the empirical evidence shows that market, there's a market for failure and there needs to be intervention and an environment enabling accessibility to be on the part of the individual, whether it be through modifying hacking or open access open standards.

I just wanted to make sure we don't confuse the debates and rehash things, especially when there are so many people that just don't get access to books and there's no legitimate reason that they are not getting that access.


>> PRANESH PRAKASH:  I would like to wrap up this particular thread of comments with comments from Shadi, me, myself and have closing comments from each of the Panelists.


>> SHADI ABOU-ZARA:  I didn't want to interrupt the discussion there.  I want to react on a couple of things.  I think we did touch on several topics I think here.

The one is obviously the open standards discussion and the debates there.

I ‑‑ to rephrase, I do think that I should be able to build my own player in order to listen to music or read a document.  And be able to do that.  Also in ten years time or whatever, have the specifications for that.

I think that's something that is essential for accessibility in order to put on different heads to the body to put it in Vint Cerf's words there.

That doesn't mean that the document I'm reading or that the music I'm listening to or whatever's free or that the software that I'm going to be selling is free.  I think that's the business model that you were talking about earlier.

I think we should see that differently.  The open standard versus the software, there is a difference there.

The other, I think, slightly sensitive issue that we touched upon is the definition of accessibility.  I am the first person who will absolutely sign with, you know, all fingers that I have or whatever, that mainstreaming is absolutely paramount to accessibility.

If open standards go 1 mile, accessibility will go a zillion miles more in order to provide those features for everyone, features that we said.

However, I think there is a bit, we just have to be careful of some of the other discussions and the accessibility sphere about the definition of accessibility.  The example broad about not being able to speak Lithuanian, this affects all Lithuanian speakers equally.  However, there are accessibility issues that affect people on behalf of their disability more than they affect others.  The definition of accessibility and the definition of open standards are both very, very touchy issues, which doesn't mean we shouldn't have them and which doesn't mean that mainstreaming accessibility and thinking about inclusiveness and how a disability falls into the whole spectrum of abilities and diversity of humans generally I think is very important to recognize.


>> PRANESH PRAKASH:  Thanks, Shadi.

I would also like to just point out something that something Bernard ‑‑ pointed out in last year's main session.  He specifically said that they faced this problem of charging for implementation when it came to issues like the patents exercised or GIF image format.

So he highlighted the need for royalty‑free standards and spoke about requiring multiple implementations of these standards and interoperability rather than just pushing forward for multiple standards.

So I actually have one specific question also on the issue of TPMs and accessibility.  Now, Nasser, you said that they can coexist.  That there is no fundamental problem between them.

But I actually, so far I haven't seen any kind of implementation of a TPM.  It might just be me, but I can't imagine either how technological protection measures can be specified in such a way that without requiring permissions, without my getting a certification of some sort, that I am a person suffering from disability from my Government or manage of that sort ‑‑ something of that sort, how I can actually tell software that I need to access these features for accessibility reasons.

And while, when we are doing so, we also very much narrowed ‑‑ even if that is possible, okay, which I don't quite see how it is as of now, we are narrowing what it means to, what accessibility itself means.  You are narrowing what inclusiveness means.

Are we to say that for persons with disabilities we want to allow certain features, but for persons who are illiterate we don't?  Are we saying for poorer people who actually need translation of stuff into their own language who don't have access to English education, okay, that people in rural India, for instance, you won't enable certain features that you would enable for their neighbors?  I actually can't see how they can really coexist peace fully in that sense and having said that, I would like to hear just some closing remarks starting from the left and I'll allow Ms. Trautmann to have the last word.

We'll proceed in this fashion.  Eddan, closing remarks?


>> EDDAN KATZ:  I said a lot.  I'm happy that this panel happened.  Closing remarks, I think it would be a great benefit for technologists to be more involved in this public policy debate.


>> VINTON CERF:  Let me take a cue from you and be very brief.  The issue of intellectual property and its agreement that has developed over hundreds of years and is barnacled in many cases, with new technologies coming and new ways of producing intellectual property, it's time to step back and say:  Okay, reset.  Let's see if we can do a different and better job which produces accessibility in the most general sense.  So maybe time to blow up the ship and start over.


>> PRANESH PRAKASH:  What a thought!


>> SHADI ABOU‑ZARA:  In one sense I think I agree and I want to pick up on something that Cynthia said early on about having to go to intermediaries to get the content.  I really thought that in the 21st century we can move away from having people with disabilities needing help, having dependency on somebody to provide content or service for them and to really have accessibility by design.  This is really the benefit of ICT is the polymorphism of it and the possibility of having different heads on it and getting in the format that I need when I need it and where I need it.  So maybe it is time to blow up the ship.  I don't know.



>> PRANESH PRAKASH:  I hadn't planned to make any remarks but I will make one since it's close to my heart, the issue of copyright and accessibility.  I might be going outside the focus of this to I can, but when it comes to one issue we are facing in India right now is that, what the Government is proposing is specially designed formats be the category, be the touch stone for seeing whether some sort of conversion from one version to another is permissible for persons with disabilities, whether visual or.

Many things such as audio books don't fall within that.  This issue is very, very important because unlike in other spheres, other exceptions, limitations that really exist which are quite frankly issues of getting something at a lower cost or lowering the transaction costs, right, this particular exception that people are trying to get into copyright law really affects the issue of access without things being in a compatible format.  It affects whether or not it all has ‑‑ there is no halfway in many cases.  It completely affects access.  And in that way it is in a sense different from other exceptions and limitations that we look at in copyright law.

I apologize for perhaps hijacking the topic into a different direction.


>> NASSER KETTANI:  I want to conclude by going back to what I said initially.  I think this is a topic that still requires a lot of innovation.  This is a topic that requires more innovators.  We want to see more innovators and we need to incent them and any policy that is developed, we need to think about those new developers, though innovators coming to this market and in order to address it properly, because the only way we can address accessibility in the mainstream way, the way Vint described it is by having a full ecosystem of different players.  And unless we have that, I don't think, I don't see how we can address it properly.  And for that to happen, there needs to be an incentive for these people to come invest, innovate and we need for that to respect the idea that there are different business models, different licensing, different ways of doing that.  Not only free, free, free, but that's not going to happen.


>> CATHERINE TRAUTMANN:  I would like to insist on the point innovation is not just a question of property rights.  Property rights doesn't guarantee that we can have real innovation in some technologies.

So yes, we need an ecosystem and it is mixed.  It is made by private initiative and public policies.

And so I think that innovation can be in collaborative way to build a platform in which you want to build open standards and open use.  And this is very important because it is the process and the use.

And why it is important in Europe?  Because the problem is always it's too expensive.

We will never succeed for people who have disabilities, but if we decide to propose to have a collaborative and open platform, to have open standards, it is less expensive.  It is effective and useful.

The problem is to find the evolution of the economy and we are not stabilising the moments.  Because we think if we change something in the actual vision, the vision we have now of property rights, it will destroy a new economy emerging and very important for everybody, you know, in our countries.

But we can ‑‑ it is not a question of theology, you know, or just too much ideological.  We must too a question, a question of accessibility from two perspectives:  Accessibility through technologies.  When you speak of one format for people without possibilities to see, to read really, these are exceptions.  These are exceptions.  Why exceptions are not possible?  The property rights when it is for people who want to read books?

This can be accepted.  Why are member states, for example in Europe, they don't accept because they think through exceptions you will have, you know, generalisation of this situation, but you know, the intellectual property right must not be a barrier to obtain correct results and the right is not really the same.  You have also rights on technology.  You have patents, you have system and different things like that.

So we must be very precise on what we speak about, what is a pity about the convention which is blocked now, the draft convention for the blind and visually impaired is that these exceptions must not be taken in consideration because the argument of property rights and this is why I think it is silly to look to the two questions we spoke about and I think that we need really to see that we have the capacity to obtain correct open standards.  It is not against traditional standards.  It is new possibilities and these new possibilities can be accepted and decided by public and by private sector because it's a progress for the people concerned.

In the emerging world, how many people have no arms, no legs, has no eyes to see?  Did they decided to be so?  No.  It is a common role an a common responsibility of different countries who use these weapons, you know?  So now where are these people?  There are more members in the poor countries.  They have two disabilities.  One is the physical situation and the second is the accessibility for the contents, teaching.  And these thing.

So this is a real question.  And I think we need to look on that without, we say in French.

(French phrase).


>> CATHERINE TRAUTMANN:  Bad calculations.  We have the chance of these technologies for access.  If we have the chance, perhaps we can also be okay in a consensus to find just the solution for exceptions.


>> PRANESH PRAKASH:  I thank all our Panelists, the audience, and our remote moderators as well for ensuring this ‑‑ I personally really enjoyed this particular session and learned quite a bit.

And I hope all of you did as well.

Thank you very much.


(The session concluded at 1030 Central Time.)