>> MODERATOR: Good morning, everyone. Why don't we get the workshop underway? I know people will probably be joining us, but I know you all have a busy schedule at the IGF and I don't want to keep you longer than we have to this is Workshop Number 32, which is called Mobile and IoT Expand Inclusion for Persons With Disabilities, and as you know, speakers and participants.
My name is Barbara Wanner. I'm the vice president of the ICT Policy for International Business, which co‑organized this workshop along with the Ministry of Education and Science in the government of Portugal. Special thanks to Portugal's Ministry to organize this.
To give a little bit of introduction, we live in an age where we are increasingly seeing ICT, machine‑to‑machine technology, and the Internet of Things, some very innovative ways for people with various disabilities to live fuller lives and make important contributions to the digital economies. This is miracles of technology. This is a very exciting development. But importantly, the technology will be used in ways to provide society's benefits. Submitted one million people are living with disability. In this workshop, people will share how to support people with disabilities. We will look at technical requirements and policy requirements, and the like, to effectively engage these underutilized talents of the segment of the global population. At the end we'll offer some best practices and strategies that hopefully we would take home with you, aimed at realizing continued progress.
I'd like to introduce our speakers. We have compiled their biography, which may be accessed at the Web link on this PowerPoint slide. I won't read it out to you, but it's posted on my organization's website. We just felt that was a way to go green rather than give you more paper, load you up with more paper.
Moving to our speakers: First we have Andrea Saks, who is a long‑time highly acceptable advocate for ICT and playing leadership role in the ITU Joint Act.
Next we have Jacquelynn Ruff of Verizon Communications, who will discuss emerging technologies as part of their services to the broad cross‑section of their users.
Next we'll have Racquel Gatto of the Internet Society, who will explore innovations from the technical community's perspective.
Then we have Anna Esterhuysen who is joining us from Russia and special thanks to Freedom House. She will share her experiences promoting the Metro for All project. We are also honored to have three speakers of governments participating on this panel who will talk about what their respective governments are doing in this area. Hopefully we have remote Shakweer Abeer from the government of Egypt, Jorge Fernandez from the government of Portugal. We have Tracey Weisler from the Federal Communications Trade Commission. And we have someone from Australia that works very actively in government procurement.
Last, but certainly not least, I'd like to recognize some important members of the team who will play an important role in making this content available to a broader audience. Our rapporteur is Judith Hellerstein, and Michael Kennedy of the Internet Society is supporting us. And we support our remote moderators from Brazil, who are in the back, hello, who will help us broaden accessibility to this workshop.
Okay. Just to begin, I'd like to take advantage of Andrea's extensive advocacy and ask if she can provide a historical overview of how she has observed the evolution of accessible ICTs drawing on her personal experience.
>> ANDREA SAKS: Certainly, Barbara. You did warn me you wanted me to do this. How this kind of started was back in the 60s with the first TTY, which started in the U.S. by my deaf father and two of his deaf colleagues. He was a physicist and the other one ‑‑ my dad was a businessman. They had to use people to make phone calls. They also did not have the ability to have the independence an adult would have.
I was dragged all sorts of places: to the bank, to the lawyer's office. And I sat there just in case the translation problem got a bit difficult, because my parents did not sign. They lip read. So once we got the technical expertise, shipped me off to U.K., and my mother went to school. She did sign, but they got there, if they did in those days. Then the telephone network evolved. What happened, though, is that each country had a different protocol; so they couldn't work back to back. It ended up with it was the most inaccessible place for persons with disabilities to attend.
So it started in 1991, and this evolved with other areas. The ADA did not get up until 1989. The public was not aware that people had rights to access of anything, as well as buildings and ICTs, education, and many other aspects. And the international Telecommunications Union gave me a home, because I learned very quickly that international standardization was the key to getting everybody to be doing the same thing, but also my work does entail making persons accessible. We have captions, fellowships for persons with disabilities who have expertise to come, sign language, many different delegates from many different countries to broaden their awareness.
And I want to give Brazil a compliment. They have done very, very well in terms of accessibility here. That's a brief overview.
>> MODERATOR: Would you say there was one specific development during all these many years that was specific that out there at the ‑‑
>> ANDREA SAKS: There were two. We did the first Translantic call. People thought nobody could talk over the Internet, and the other thing was the fact that the ADA was the first legislative document that gave people rights. It would not have happened unless the deaf community was able to lobby. There were many people, in fact, one of our colleagues, Karen from the FCC, who Tracey knows quite well, was one of the authors of this that later we had. That was probably the biggest breakthrough, because countries have used that particular document to pattern their own ‑‑
>> MODERATOR: And ADA is ‑‑
>> ANDREA SAKS: ‑‑ American with Disabilities Act.
>> MODERATOR: If I could turn now to Racquel, the Internet Society's paper, which served as the background document for this workshop, it's a variety of barrier states by persons based on their specific disability.
>> RACQUEL GATTO: Thank you first for joining the panel and, Andrea, for sharing her historical perspectives. I also, at the Brazilian on the table, want to say a big welcome for all of you and hi for the remote participants with Michael V., through the collaboration of our staff and the membership experts, one of them who joins us today. I was looking for her. So she authored this 2012 paper and helped also with other expertise and materials.
So before going down into these studies, I want to bring back us back to the STG, the Sustainable Development Goals, which just occurred in September, just because disability is mentioned several times in this document, access to education, on reducing inequality and so on. Specifically, I was reading the text and highlighting some of the quotes that we envisage a world of universal respect to human rights and human dignity, tolerant, open, and socially inclusive world in which the needs of the most vulnerable are met.
Further on, people who are vulnerable must be empowered and include people with disabilities. More than 80% live in poverty. That's 80%, eight zero. So that's a really significant number. And we should also remember the number that Barbara stated in the beginning. We have about a million people living with some form of disability ‑‑ one billion, yes, one billion. Sorry.
So those numbers show something; right? And we can go in several directions, but the fact that we are facing ‑‑ the issue that we are facing today in this workshop is how to expand inclusion for technology, and that's where Internet got in; right? That's where the Internet is an opportunity, offers the opportunity for inclusion.
It's not by coincidence that I wanted to mention that last year International Day of Person with Disabilities also brought the team sustainable development, the promise of technology. So this all has been converging. So Internet technology has the ability to give persons with disabilities a more equitable basis in a matter that previously was not possible, why it has been traditional to address the disability issues related to Web accessibility, the expansion of multiple devices interconnected is growing. The growing use of Internet is important to everyone, and users with disability use more mobile services. We have our global 2015 Internet report that was authored by Michael that highlights the 58% of respondents with moderate disability use mobile to access the Internet. People with low vision is even higher. It's about 80% of those who are serving that took mobile accessibility. With 30% of those who are using mobile as their primary Internet access device and 63% using accessibility settings from their phones, like the iPhone, the voiceover and so on.
But it's important to take this. It's the title of the panel and this idea that this small device that we bring with us has several features: Like there is a camera; the touch, there is a lot of potential to help people with disabilities. We also highlight interglobal Internet reports. Some of the examples, some of the applications that exist, like BYI, who help people who couldn't see and bring in voice is what they are looking for.
It's not only mobile, the device in the world for the ubiquitous Internet. We are all connected. Consumer products, durable goods, cars, trucks, component sensors, we have a lot of objects combined with Internet connectivity and the way we work we live and we play. That's Internet of Things happening now. And so it promises fully connected smart world as the relationships between objects, their environment, and people become more time intertwined. And it should be noted for persons with disabilities, yet we do have challenges to achieve this goal and consider if you wanted to achieve the potential and benefits for all.
So the path is clear. We need to overcome these barriers, and which are those barriers. I'm sure the panel will bring up several examples. I'm going to bring three barriers that I want to highlight. And I think they're the ones we should tackle with priority. Accessibility: Meaning that people with disabilities should be able to use a product or service as effectively as a person without it; right? They should have access to it.
Remember the number I said in the beginning. 80% are in poverty. So we need to have ‑‑ so based on their low income and sometimes limited educational opportunities, we need to have lower costs for this device, for the connectivity. In several layers we need to think about affordability. I wanted to mention that over a hundred governments signed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. And it brings obligations to lower the costs to bring to a minimum costs that is for people with disabilities. The third one is availability. Availability ranges from the access to the Internet, the ICTs, and to range from this to the limited availability of technology.
When barriers are removed, persons with disabilities can fully contribute to society. Other stakeholders should take into account to create an environment of full participation on the Internet and bring Internet opportunities to all. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Racquel, and particularly for linking us in with the Sustainable Development Goals. I think that's an important overarching theme of this IGF. I have a question for both Andrea and Racquel. To what extent do cultural factors, particularly in emerging economies, inhibit progress in this area?
>> ANDREA SAKS: Probably the lack of broadband and wireless connectivity. One of the other things, global telephony has been a major breakthrough because of being able to communicate over wide places of distance. Because Africa is a huge country, for example. And in South America there is a very dense population as there is throughout the world. Would this be an opportune time to speak about the problem or talk about that later?
>> MODERATOR: You certainly can.
>> ANDREA SAKS: That's probably the main thing that I would comment on at this point.
>> RACQUEL GATTO: And I think Andrea already tackled the culture in terms of Developing Countries and access infrastructure. There is one not related to the technology itself, but also on taking people with disabilities on the same crown as anyone else. It's fulfilling this society role that is not taken as pity or shame, this culture that needs to be worked on with technology.
>> MODERATOR: Great. Thank you. Now let's consider how businesses are endeavoring to make their services more fully inclusive to communities as a whole. Jackie Ruff of Verizon communications. Jackie has been a long‑time provider of a range of services. Could you share with us how these have evolved over time and taken advantage of important innovations such as mobile, cloud computing?
>> JACKIE RUFF: Thank you. Thanks, everyone, for being here in this section. I look forward to the part of the session where we can have a conversation and a dialogue, hopefully, with many of you who are in the room. And I also am going to take a personal moment, because we were talking about the Americans With Disabilities Act, and I act as a staffer at the senate committee that really took the leaderships, Senator Harkins. I still have a photo of the day. It was an outpouring of lobbying of persons with disabilities coming to our Congress. It's so clear how necessary this was. It was a major change.
Nationally, we're the largest of the wireless providers outside the U.S. We offer enterprise services. So if you look at our customer base, in the United States about one in five of Americans has some type of disability. These are our customers and we are highly motivated to do everything possible to make our own service inclusive. So it was around 1989 that as a company we adopted universal design principles, and over the years made our customer service centers accessible.
So introducing a video phone, customer service that was ‑‑ that would work for persons who were using sign language, the mobile side, and were recently trying to use, as Barbara said, all of the technologies, mobile service, cloud service where data could be stored, have access all around and also potentially all around the world. I think Racquel did a very nice description of the use of the sensors, the data analytics, taking data that we not make any sense at all but then making it usable by everyone but including particularly our focus today: Persons with disabilities. I wanted to give a couple examples of what we're doing in that area and talk about three product services we have developed recently as Verizon, and then one that is a little bit more general. The first one is called Telesense. It's the simple idea of combining a number of different applications; in our case it's on the Android platform, to assist the blind with higher level tasks and independence. It's a combination of access to commands that are activated. Those include mapping, color recognition, directions, magnifiers, and reading of bar codes in the supermarket, figuring out the price of your purchases.
Another one that's even more recent and part of a very interesting program that Verizon does is called Sesame phone. The program is called Powerful Answers. I think this is the third year that we've done it. We do a global competition where we ask people to come with new services, new applications, and to propose those. We've got one ready right now, which is using different services for responding to emergencies, healthcare, natural disaster. We put $6 million out there. There are three $1 million prizes. One of the winners is a company based in Israel that developed something called Sesame Phone. And the company is called Sesame Enable. It's a movement tracking phone.
In this case that's what allows it to function. It's intended to bring independence to persons who have developed a debilitating illness, or conditions such as severe arthritis, or Parkinson's, and it's very easy to use. That's one of the keys here. It comes straight out of the box with preinstalled software. As I said, it has motion tracking and voice commands. So this is we do a global push‑out, come in with your proposals, we'll help you work with them, what they look like, and then this $1 million award last year.
The other example, I know I should have it on my phone, and I could, but to me this was just so striking, an article in our Washington paper last week or so. And it says, "App serves as eyes for the blind." And it's a story of an Android. It's called Navcoc, navigation application. The person is walking through a college campus. She has her earbuds on. She looks like nine out of ten of us would be walking through that campus if we're listening to music or doing something else, but what is happening is that her phone is a sensor and there are beacons, calling them beacons, throughout that campus that are giving her either voice or vibration the way and in the future that could be combined with facial recognition or other ways of having computer and the ability to navigate the environment and be on a much more, standing to others remarkably even enhanced. It's very important and exciting.
I wanted to give you a couple thoughts on how we make these things happen. It's very much about multi‑stakeholderism, because you have a business here, business relationships, partnering with the technical community that are built in this network Internet of Things potential, with input from Civil Society, and close contact with our government. FCC is very much a leader around this and are active participants, and even our Congress, going back to our initial story about the legislation that was passed. Getting this right and making progress really has to be done in this way.
The specific thing that we're now doing to bring this back to IoT or Internet of Things, is Verizon several weeks ago announced something called Thing Space. This is an IoT platform, again, our innovation centers, which we have in San Francisco and in the Boston area, we've created a setup and an opportunity for everyone to come, whether you're a developer of an application or somebody who wants to be helpful in how it can be used and integrated and other things. It's very much about an open environment. You don't have to have a pre‑existing relationship with Verizon. It gives you the ability to work with experts, the connectivity of the network to use to try to experiment with things, ideas on how to work with the data that you get with Internet of Things. So we can talk more, perhaps, about public policy. I think that can encourage all of this, but I hope by giving you a sense of some of the things, a process of continuity for many decades, but to take this issue to the best of technology, which hopefully can be leapfrogged into Developing Countries.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Jackie. I really appreciated your drawing in the multi‑stakeholder model as serving as a basis for a lot of this innovation. I think we all need to be reminded of the importance of that, particularly at this IGF. Another important overarching theme. I would like to turn to Anna, because she also can talk about she is involved in, Metro for All. Could you tell us a little bit more about this?
>> ANNA ESTERHUYSEN: Thank you, thank you for letting me speak on this panel. I would like to start by that's what I thought about, really for a long time about multi‑stakeholder model and this is because I represent both technical community and business and to some extent Civil Society.
First, let me explain what Metro for All is. This is the project and the application which helps people with disabilities, specifically people with reduced mobility, to better navigate how they transfer networks. Right now we do it by providing applications which provide detailed information about the accessibility facilities, all the possible barriers that they will encounter on their way while they use this operating systems.
At the same time this data and this application also can be used and are indeed used for analysis for search for tracking down the access problems, the particular stations, and the particular networks. Our project is also about monitoring accessibility situation in public transport systems.
So as for the use of jurisdictional technologies, the Metro for All project is supported and we focus our area of expert is basic technologies. So, for example, this is like really sophisticated information with systems which are used for building public roads and communication and so we're used to working with big amounts of data which relates to objects which I distributed in space, but at the same time connected to each other. We constantly develop new technologies, which help process this data. So what we wanted to do and what we are trying to do is to bring those technologies. Right now they are all in the prototype stage, but there is a lot of development going on the way, including positioning inside subways and we really hope to work with technology. So to sign up the Metro for All project is power contribution to social issue and to the human rights issue, and the right to free movement, and also for us it's really interesting technological challenge.
>> MODERATOR: Just a quick question. Where does Metro for All get its accessibility data? From the official subway website or other public sources?
>> ANNA ESTERHUYSEN: Barbara, that's a really good question. Indeed, now we are present in 14 cities in seven countries. None of the cities, none are the official sources in this city has the data which we use in our applications. This is the data about, for instance, the maximum slope of the ramps or the width of the doors and the number of steps which a person with disability will encounter in a subway station. We had to do the data collection ourselves.
We are doing it and we have volunteers joining us. And the result is really, really interesting, because at the moment the data we collected, which is available, it is also used by official subway employees, as a resource to help people with disabilities. And in official docs they informed us that it's much easier for them to use our obligations than the official ones than to request the same data inside the subways from the minister department.
But as I said, just to be clear, we are based in Moscow. It's the ultimate public transportation system. That's where I tell many people really not a lot has been done to make accessibility. But now we are expanding.
>> MODERATOR: Again, that's another wonderful example of how stakeholders working together, each stakeholder brought an important perspective to the table. And between all the stakeholders, you develop something that was superior to the product of just one stakeholder.
>> ANNE ESTERHUYSEN: Yes, that's exactly right, I think.
>> MODERATOR: Excellent. Actually, I'd like to pose a question to Racquel and Andrea. First I'd like to ask Racquel to enlighten us about the importance of standards development related to accessible ICTs, and Andrea, let's go to the point we talked about earlier. Some forms of mobile telephony can interfere with assistive listening devices and share with us that.
>> RACQUEL GATTO: I'm not a technical person, so I'm not going to go on the technical issues, but the underlying message is whenever you're developing the technology, you need to consider the people with disabilities, the limitations and the technical aspects that we include those people, those persons. So we do have a couple of examples while in the technical centers of development. I'm sure Andrea will tackle the ITU and others with more expertise. We have accessibility, especially the Web content, accessibility guidelines, which are good points to highlight over this process, considering persons with disabilities on the developing process.
Also, I want to highlight the IGF work. The Internet Engineering Task Force, each has its own and that's where the protocols are developed. It has been working for a while also on some of the disabilities issues like providing real time, protocols which are important for the deaf people who has hearing impairment, and it has also been involved in other working groups. So it's open for anyone for the participant of anyone interested. Most of the discussions are done through mailing lists, and so you can join ‑‑ you can bring in your expertise. You don't need to be fully technical to bring those issues. We have, for example, human rights and others. Just to highlight these opportunities for the time of the development that needs to be intertwined.
Also, on the foundation, that's another aspect that is important. While you were a technician, not directly involved on the development of the protocols and standards, but we are developing technology. You are creating this technology. You also need to have tools that can help you understand where are the limitations, and if your product or service is ‑‑ I'm trying to avoid the lawyer wording "compliance," but that's where kind of it's the word that came to mind that you need to have this kind of foundation. So that's mine. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you, Andrea.
>> ANDREA SAKS: Thank you, Barbara. Standardization has been my life since 1991. I've learned a great deal from the engineers. Impersonally not an engineer, but by proxy I might as well be, because I've learned a lot about technology, especially in the situation of including persons with disabilities and preventing new barriers and solving the barriers that already exist.
I'm not going to go into too much detail about the ITU other than the fact we have three sections. We have the ITU‑t, which is the telecommunications standardization part, which handles multimedia. We have some product casting as well. We have the ITU‑r, which does satellite spectrum for radio, and other issues regarding mobile telephony. Then we have the ITU‑d, which is the development sector, taking all the information in the developing world and having them have a voice. I mainly work in the ITU‑t sector. The ITU‑r and ITU‑t have joined forces to work together.
One of the last things we found out in the last year and a half is that long‑term evolution, mobile phones which were in fact often called LTE, or 4G, are interfering with what we call assistive listening devices, which we also called LTS ‑‑ so I try not to use the acronyms ‑‑ and also short‑range devices, which are things like Bluetooth and wireless and our Zigbee applications. That may not seem so terrible, except if you have a hearing aid and you cannot use it or it gets blocked or stopped because of a mobile phone in close proximity to that device, and I mean close in terms of five meters, which is especially unacceptable. Some were saying maybe we can get it down to two meters. That's still unacceptable. We have the same problem earlier in our history with GSM, the main phones we currently use.
Now, the problem is I'm going to give you all just an overview, because I think if I teach some of these words to you and make you understand that this is not rocket science. Everything works on spectrum. In the world of short‑range devices, a very limited period of spectrum is available. It's 2.3 gigahertz to 2.4 gigahertz. Just remember it's like that big. It is overcrowded.
Now, if countries sell the spectrum that is being released by England and the Department of Defense has released theirs and the upper band above and there is space just below to the mobile industry for them to use to sell more devices or be able to make these devices be upgraded without taking into consideration that the actual transmission level may be way, way, way too high and unacceptable, we'll have a major problem.
We already actually have a problem in some cases, because you'll probably all gather that I have a huge interest because of my background in deafness. But in the education of children in school, they use assistive listening devices to hear, to learn to speak. Deafness is on the rise. We have a huge population of deaf people that people are losing their hearing, it just wears out, and I'm one of them. Hearing aids, as you know, you don't see them very much. They're tiny, tiny things.
Some of the boys in the ITU‑r think that the hearing aid manufacturers can solve the problem. It's too small; we can't put a filter in it. So the studies are starting, but not before the different organizations that control spectrum are already giving it out. So the problem is already there. And I might just touch on the fact that deafness is increasing and combine the two. That might save you time, too.
We also have another problem. Deafness is on the rise. Now, all of you have earbuds. I've seen you all with them. And you listen to your music. You listen to your phone calls. But at what volume and for how long? Now, one of the most uncontrollable parts of our population is the teenagers. I was one. You were one. It was a long time ago. The volume. I used to listen to Janis Joplin, and some in San Francisco in front of the stacks, I knocked off the top range of my hearing in one go. It's that quick, but if over long use, if using earbuds or microphones that don't have the protection that industry requires young people are going to lose their hearing, not when they're old, though it will be worse, but now. They'll lose a lot of their hearing and it will be permanent. It will cause tinnitus. It will cause discomfort and pain. If all of you have time to go to the ITU website, there is a testimony that's up. It's called hearing loss,www.itu.int.com, listening to his iPhone, and it's not the iPhone per se; it's how it's used. But when you see apps that increase the volume and the industry is not taking responsibility, and my partner in crime here knows about this, and it's not the industry itself, it's called people don't know. That's why I'm bringing it to your attention. The industry will, perhaps, help, but there is a distinct problem. I'm just going to quote something. A lot of times industry doesn't think it's worth their while because of financial constraints to go down a certain road. Not because they're the bad guys, but because they have stockholders and it just doesn't seem to be a good idea at the time without some kind of pressure from the particular world that we live in. I'm just going to bring up the documents and have something in front of my face here.
One of the things I have to mention, though, at this point, is this has not been fully tested. The testing is preliminary. But empowerment that this is going to impact of things, if somebody is using Bluetooth; someone walking by your window will knock your remote control out. It's just Bluetooth. There are all kinds of impacts that are going to happen to the regular population besides the fact that popular ear implants or hearing aids may be impacted and other medical devices like an insulin pump. It's the current lack of recognition of this particular problem, which is embryonic at this moment for the moment. We have a chance to do something about it if more people will know that it will exist.
We are communicating, and I'm working with ICT, who I am representing officially, and I'll give you some information where you can come later next year to find out more about this. But it's actually 1.3 billion persons with disabilities worldwide, but there is a more interesting Figure 2.2 billion, like about 4 people per person. That means there's $1 trillion of disposable income, from the U.S., person persons with disabilities and those emotionally attached. This is an important statistic to tell the industry that it is worthwhile to make devices. All of us are not radio engineers. We don't know when we buy something it will interfere with our devices. What does a child do, a little baby, using a hearing aid, talking to his mother, and I'm thinking of England when I'm on the tube train and the guy is standing at the bottom of the carriage and looking at his LTE carriage, has to be on, and the kid's hearing aid knocks out. Is the child going to understand why? Is the school going to understand why? Are people in the street going to understand why? They won't. It is really something that I would like people to begin to recognize that we have to do something about.
This particular figure of one trillion disposable income in the U.S. has actually been estimated now that $8 trillion disposable income worldwide for persons with disabilities emotionally attached. If you want to know where that comes from, it comes from the Global Economic Disability Report of 2013. So I'm sure these figures have risen.
I'm not knocking the mobile companies, believe me. There are many divisions the problem is we can't go to the higher spectrum. If it's in the body, we can't ‑‑ it doesn't work. We are not protected. There are primary considerations that protect spectrum. For ones, the phones that are disappearing in our land, are the landlines. They have a primary function, mobile have number two. But these devices that we rely on that are going to affect not only persons who have severe hearing loss who are who have medical problems or who need them strictly for educational purposes or to keep themselves alive, are going to be impacted without knowing why. And so we have to take this as a very serious problem and open the dialogue between the mobile companies and everybody else regarding this particular problem.
Children have to be educated that they can't listen to the volume. So we want to get the makers of mobile phones to maybe look at that on makers of earbuds or the makers of hearing aids of infants, to take into consideration of filtering. They can probably do it in headphones, but I have no idea about earbuds, maybe apps that signal when this is too loud for too long. So I just want the world to understand this problem exists. It's very, very serious. And I hope ‑‑ someone is popping in here next to me. I'll make room. I'm hoping you'll ask me some questions, because spectrum is jammed in this little area. I mean, we don't have protection. We can protect a spectrum that would be assigned to the hearing aid industry and popular ear implants. The Federal Drug and Food Administration is looking at the problem at one point about two years ago. How far that got, I don't know. I have to follow up on that.
But if anybody has any questions about that, please see me afterwards. So I hope you've got kind of an overview and learned some new words, assistive listening devices, hearing aids, short‑range devices like Bluetooth and Zigbee. Your future is dependent on the fact that new technologies, expanding technology, does not create new barriers, not only for persons with disabilities but the rest of us.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you Andrea. I believe we have our remote participant ready. Hello? Are you on the line?
>> SHAKWEER ABEER: Hello? Thank you, yes.
>> MODERATOR: Yes, we can hear you.
>> SHAKWEER ABEER: Great.
>> MODERATOR: She is joining us from the government of Egypt. We have a terrible echo in the room. I'd just like to invite you to share with us what the government of Egypt is doing to create a better future for our speaking for persons with disabilities.
>> SHAKWEER ABEER: Okay. First of all, I'm glad to thank you for giving me the chance to participate remotely. I would like to make sure that the meeting went quite well ‑‑ are you hearing me quite well?
>> MODERATOR: Yes.
>> SHAKWEER ABEER: I have to say that the main changing of persons with disabilities in Egypt is actually the exclusion for a long period of time. This, of course, has led to a lot of problems from the mindset about persons with disabilities have to deal with them, the infrastructure. So we at the ministry, we actually understand technology and information technology in particular can help to a great extent the inclusion on persons with disabilities.
So we developed a strategy in 2012 for empowerment. The first is the technological accessibility of services, and the development of assistive technologies which supported, because this is actually where most assistive technology for people that use it do not support. So when it comes to services, we talked ‑‑
‑‑ grants offered, and also we are working with the Ministry of education to equip schools for persons with disabilities and the equip the schools with the required infrastructure and the required assistive technologies. So far we finalized 260 schools in two years out of 1000 schools.
We also equipped one center for people with disabilities in each public school for public university with the software, with Braille printers, other required accessibility.
To be better able to communicate through ICT, and it's very challenging to us is the training for employees, and this is in cooperation with ICT companies and NGOs, and it focuses on defined things in those countries, and training and then we go back and hire them at the cooperating companies.
At the beginning of this project we had a problem. Most people were not
So for the first six months it is completely by the NGO. For the next three months, 50% has to be paid by the company
‑‑ they are going very well ‑‑
>> MODERATOR: We're having audio problems. We are not ‑‑
>> SHAKWEER ABEER: You are not hearing me anymore?
>> MODERATOR: Yes, we're having trouble hearing you.
>> SHAKWEER ABEER: Okay. So would you like me to mention any of the things again?
>> MODERATOR: Can you just wrap it up with one main point that you would like us to take away with from this meeting?
>> SHAKWEER ABEER: Yes. I would like to mention that in the Arab world and the Arab persons with disabilities, we have different challenges. In the developed words things are much different than here, but what we did that we put in place a strategy that in cooperation of persons with disabilities we are now, I think, working in the right direction to have equip the schools ‑‑
>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Shakweer. We appreciate your remote participation. It was tremendously enhancing to us in this workshop. Thank you again.
Why don't we move to our other government speakers? Governments have an important role to play, not only to the access to these technologies, but also in creating a policy environment that encourages innovation in this area. Portugal is one of the European countries that has devoted particular attention to the benefits of the Information Society for people with disabilities. Can you explain briefly how you're doing this?
>> Good morning, everyone. I will try to ‑‑
I will give you some keys we are using in our policies in promoting Information Society for people with disabilities. In a green book of the information society that was produced by the Ministry of Science and Technology, in 1997, we could read for the first time in the political document that the Information Society has a great potential for inclusiveness and participation of people with disabilities in society. And we and we ask why the information as a society have these kind of potential? And the more important key is the access of the information, the digital information have benefits that it is impossible when we are using, for example, analog information.
It is important to have in mind that the digital content could adapt to the user, to the user needs, or if you want the user capacities or reading, for example. In accessibility and digital accessibility, if you read, for example, the Web content of the accessibility guidelines, the preamble of this document, speaks about a concept that is racially transformation of the information. So you could use, for example, what we call in our days the multimedia information, that is images, text, and sounds. You can use any of these elements to transform in another one to give you opportunity to people to access. For example, text images, and you have, for example, sign language. You could use any kind of this transformation.
In the document ‑‑ in the policy documents that we produced in 1999 and in 2003, we have two specific plans to Information Society and to improve the Information Society to people with disabilities. We use three important keys to do that. So we know that if people access information or informational communication, assistive technologies, so we need to have the political ‑‑ the strong vector about specific technologies. People need to access and need to have assistive technologies. People need to have information ‑‑ digital information with guidelines of accessibility and people also need support services. If you have specific technologies, if you have information, follow the guidelines. But people don't know how to use it. They don't use it.
So we need also support services in the training. You need it in education. So these three pillars, these three vectors, are very important and we put it on our policies in 1999 and 2003. Today we have it in the work places. We have assistive technologies in work places. We have finance in education, and also the Social Security if the people are not sturdy anymore, or if the people aren't working yet, or don't work. They also could be supported with assistive technologies through the Social Security.
>> MODERATOR: You developed sort of a comprehensive policy environment that encourages both education and finance and access?
>> MODERATOR: Excellent.
>> For you have an idea, we have a financing package about 12 million Euros to this kind of financing.
>> MODERATOR: If we could move now to ‑‑ talk to us about your work on accessibility and government procurement.
>> Thank you very much, Barbara. Thank you for your invitation to speak in this workshop. Really, we are all quite selfish when we work with disability, because there's a good chance that we will benefit from the policies, the research, the standards that are being worked on. And that could be a temporary disability, we might break a leg. There's a fair chance that we'll all get some sort of disability. Andrea mentioned about hearing impairment. In Australia we talk about one in six people with hearing impairment, which is going to one in four.
Andrea's examples of young people and music is a real danger in the future. So I'll talk about public procurement. It sounds pretty boring, but government purchasing, which it is what it is, can have a huge influence on how products and services are more and more accessibility in the future. Why is this important? Well, we're talking about mainstream ICT. We're talking about mainstream products. And how with accessibility built in and we are seeing that in the Apple iPhone and the Apple iPad, having something out of the box that a blind person can use means it's the same as anyone else. For an iPad, someone with a communication impairment, to be using an iPad, certainly when it first came out, was pretty cool. And for a person with a severe disability to be using that really, really makes a difference.
So including accessibility criteria in government mainstream ICT purchasing has a huge influence on the market, because obviously we want to negotiating and be successful in government contracts. Governments are large contractors in ICT. So it means that generally more and more products are going to be designed with accessibility. Importantly, it can increase employment opportunities for persons with disabilities and government agencies, when there is mainstream ICT that's more accessible. In some countries, and we heard in the U.S., with the Americans with Disabilities Act, in Australia we have similar legislation for that. It has a flower effect. It was a flower effect of generally increasing accessibility with ICT.
And that means that there is a reduced need for expensive assistive technology for some people with disability. Not everyone. There will always be a need for assistive technology, but when you have at interoperability.
What is being done? In the US, there is Section 508. I won't go into these, but they provide guidelines on the type of functioning requirements when it comes to accessibility. There's a more recent European standard, and that's was created to harmonize as much as possible with the refresh Section 508 guidelines, which haven't gone through Congress and been approved yet, by the way.
In tandem with this is revised European Union directive in public procurement from 2014. That is a specific process about people with disabilities. For example, number three referred to the U.N. Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the need to incorporate accessibility in public procurement and processes.
It also talks about technical requirements and interoperability. That's important when we talk about Internet of Things. Not only is it in the environment of the government, but in the environment it's been a very expensive environment to control for people with significant disabilities in older people. Now with smart housing coming on, it means that the affordability is going to improve, but we need that interoperability with assistive devices and the devices themselves.
So, again, this procurement, winding up. We don't have much time. Together with a colleague in Australia, we have done research advocated in Australia for the government and we're very fortunate. So now just late last year there was request for tender that included the accessibility clause. That's a first for Australia.
There might be more standards coming in. The G3ict has done a lot of work; it has worked with a number of elements, including Mexico, to see how this can progress. Franchesca from G3ict is right there. There is another accessibility tool kit, which includes hot off the press, and well worth reading when it comes to looking forwards. And it talks about industry and industry is really key in round tables. Industry is key because there is a possibility of developing more accessibility in products, once governments state we want this and more and more governments are doing this. It's a great pathway, not only in the developed world, but in the mobile so that they can, again, be that flower of affordable, mainstream accessibility ICTs.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much. And this goes back to a point that Jackie raised earlier about governments creating sort of an enabling environment.
I'd like to turn now to Tracey. I know this issue of ICT accessibility and inclusion is a priority for your chairman. Could you just discuss that a little bit with us and talk about what you think needs to be done to foster progress.
>> TRACEY WEISLER: Thank you, Barbara. Thanks so much for having me join the panel. I know I'm between you all and a coffee break. I'll go through five headlines by the FCC U.S. environment what's going on in the space and what we've done to push forward, as Barbara indicated the chairman's wish for policies to develop in this area and to get a move on, as he says.
First, I did want to reference teenagers, because we have talked a little bit about them. I actually have one. And I live with him and he tries to live with me, but he was very excited about the panel that I'm on today when he heard about what I was doing. And he decided to do some research for me, which I thought was quite adorable. He sat at the computer for a couple of minutes and Googled his way. And he found things that astonished me, because I wasn't even sure what he would find. He said, "Mom, look at this. It's a GPS enabled cane or walking stick." I said, "Really?" "No, really, look at this. This is a Google Glass that actually live captions nearby speakers." I said, "Really?" He said, "Mom, they've got an iPad out that translates sign language into audible words." He said, "Mom, this is good stuff. This is really cool. This is my world."
And I thought well, it's really everybody's world, because these things really highlight the central theme that I wanted to talk about today, which is the power and importance of broadband technology to attack the challenges facing all of us as we age, and especially those living with disabilities today.
At the FCC we like to say we're all about broadband. It's really not broadband per se that is transformational in my view. It's really what it enables us to do. So a broadband connection, coupled with the power of the IP protocol‑based technologies, is really a magnificent moment here where we can push out and adapt and innovate across these technologies so that we can enhance all our lives.
So with what we call the broadband revolution, we have an opportunity to get in on the ground floor, the basic fundamental level. What our chairman likes to say is accessibility has to be a first thought, not an afterthought. And so the FCC has really determined to seize these opportunities. I want to tell you about five of them.
First, we have adopt the rules governing the quality of closed captioning that was actually, and I have to say I'm ashamed to say this, it was a petition that was filed with the FCC in 2004. It took us ten years to move on that petition. And so while I would say that the FCC is certainly on the move now, we haven't always put these issues first. And it's this chairman who has really, as I said, pushed it forward.
So the rules make sure that the captions are accurate, complete, timely, displayed appropriately on the screen. They also require a newer enhanced version of what we call electronic news room technique, which is intended to make those who are deaf and hard of hearing have access to a greater amount of the local news programming. And so we're monitoring, actually, in real time the extent to which this technique has been successful in our ongoing efforts to achieve full access for folks. And if it isn't, we're going to actually consider the need for further action in this space.
We also, and this is, I think, very interesting, we've expanded the captioning requirements to include Internet content. So this means viewers who are deaf and hard of hearing can have access to news clips and other important information that have already been captioned on TV and retransmitted via the Internet. This doesn't include user‑generated video. You can't do YouTube yet, but we are hoping to see progress.
We are transitioning to our National Deaf/Blind Equipment Distribution Program. This is a program we call I Can Connect. We spent about $10 million annually, services 5‑ or 6,000 families. This is a way that we can take a pilot program in the U.S., now put it into a permanent status, and ensure that low income people who are deaf/blind can get the communications they need to participate fully in society.
Thirdly, another good news spot, we have improved our rules requiring access to emergency information on TV for people who are blind and mentally impaired. We have mandated this not only be mandated on TV sets, but also on the second screen. These are laptops, tablets, cell phones. This is actually in the interest collaboration of multistakeholders, it's a team of 40 consume her accessible mandate, actionable, which means you can really do it, recommendations on policies to improve communications access. The DAC was off to a great start. As of last March we received four important items that the commission is currently reviewing and trying to implement before the end of the year.
Fifth, we're looking inside ourselves. That is to say we want to make sure that the U.S. Government is actually a leader through our practices, our daily service to the public. Around a year ago the FCC became the first federal agency to use broadband interactive video to allow callers to use ASL. And we have seen a tremendous success. Most of you have or will call in to your regulator to say something about your bill, something about your contract, and want to have some help, assistance in information. Now this is available to the full community in the U.S. More than half the issues raised by consumers who call our ASL video line, they have their resolution of the problem right on the spot, within the hour. So that's something I think we can be proud of and we've been trying through gentle persistence to work with other government agencies, such as our Social Security Administration, our census bureau, who are taking our census every ten years, and others to try to help them implement the same service inside their walls.
So I think I'll close with those five read outs from the U.S. I want to point out, should you need to learn about any of the programs I referenced or want to hear more about some of the technical issues, I'm happy to provide with you some websites.
And I guess to Barbara's last point, which is what are we gonna do internationally? Who are we as a community internationally? How do we build this thing that we call accessibility in ICT services? The FCC is very interested in collaborating. We don't always get it right. We want to learn from Australia, Portugal, and Egypt. We believe there is a way we can launch by the beginning of next year a dedicated part of our portal website at the FCC to host a library of these functional programming tools translated in various languages for those that need, and actually develop a chat room with our experts in‑house who are actually implementing these programs so that regulators and collaborators and multi‑stakeholder entities could come together and actually use this as a reference tool. I'll leave it at that. Thank you very much.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much. We have time for ‑‑ well, I saw two hands, so two quick questions. How is that? The gentlemen right here and then the second gentleman.
>> AUDIENCE: Hello, everybody. My name is Viktor. I'm from Brazil. I'm part of the Youth at IGF program. Racquel is our tutor. Thank you for the opportunity. I have right now here during the conversations I write some thoughts, and I'd like to share with you. To even enhance the quality of life for people with disabilities is to encourage the technical community, business, and Civil Society use, create, and chair open source hardware and software.
Many applications can be done easily if we can escalate the production and let this kind of technology accessible to everyone. We already heard in the beginning about an application created by university to blind people. With accessible device between fruits of the real work and the conditional power, other applications like wearable devices, mobile applications, commercial and residential information systems, connective processes and so on, can be easily implemented. I believe that with this approach we can reduce the costs of the infrastructure needed to run this kind of application. With this, we enable the companies without to fulfill in gap of products and applications to include those with disabilities.
With this open material, we also permit and facilitate the capacity building to host and to learn and make its own application at home or inside research institutes.
>> MODERATOR: Could we wrap it up? I want to make room for the other people, too.
>> AUDIENCE: Working on open source project, hardware, and on this product right now. We have a couple of examples running. I'd like to share just one example, just one idea, to help persons with disabilities. It's very similar to the application presented about the trains, the subways. Here in Brazil we are doing the project with the bus. You put one of the device on each bus and one device on each bus stop. With this we can enable that people with disabilities can have all their cell phones information about the buses, can get some pushes, get some notifications about their travel, about their tracks, and some sound notifications and so on, vibrations and based on these feedbacks that I'm receiving after opening this project and based on the comments I hear, I'm completely convinced that we need to keep on this way to look for collaborative and cooperative ways to solve issues related to the issues of persons with disabilities. And I think that open technology is one of the keys to enable this kind of scenario.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much for sharing that. Thank you. An important contribution to the substance of today's program. The gentleman that is ‑‑ yes, thank you.
>> AUDIENCE: My name is Frederick. I'm responsible for a project called F123. There are three items very quickly. (?) I think it's very interesting to see the case of Verizon, for example, which recognizes with an award, and I think it's very interesting to see the initiatives that are taking place in Russia, in Egypt, you know. One of the things that is clear is that we need to find ways to cooperate to partner. I think the panel is right on target, because it's not so much that there is no interest. It is that there is a high level of complexity. And everyone in the panel needs help from organizations such as ‑‑ (?) Organizations such as F123, which make accessibility easy, no cost, and scalable for persons who are blind as well, makes low cost hearing devices for persons with hearing disabilities, because, very quickly, ten years ago Facebook started, approximately. When did they start having a large‑scale effort to make their online resources accessibility? Well, this year, earlier this year.
Persons with disabilities cannot afford to wait a decade for disability for accessibility to become a priority. And this was not because they have little budget, because necessity did not have the technical expertise. It's simply because Internet companies have enormous pressures, competitive pressures. There is a high level of complexity if you do not get our community involved. So I encourage you to do more of what Verizon is already doing with its awards, and more of what Russia and Egypt are doing in getting NGOs involved in their projects. You need us as much as we need you.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much. You have five seconds.
>> AUDIENCE: Can I speak in Portuguese?
>> MODERATOR: I'm sorry, I don't understand Portuguese.
>> AUDIENCE: Good morning.
With social inclusion, there we observe the difficulty of including people with disabilities. The key difficulty is proprietary, open source software. I have a doubt, a question. With this kind of discussion about these technologies that in my view are not inclusive because the people that need to have access to these kinds of technologies would not necessarily have the money to have access and participate and be truly included. So a point I want to raise, before we think about inclusion ‑‑
>> MODERATOR: I think we can quickly address your question, since we're running out of time. Just quickly, please.
>> ANDREA SAKS: I'm just going to tell you that all standards are not costly. We do use open standards. I'm speaking from as the ITU perspective. Can you translate that for me, Fernando? Fernando? All ITU standards are downloaded free. So if it's a standard on the ITU, you can have it free.
So there's one small problem. If open source standards are not maintained, then sometimes they go by the wayside; so one has to take a look at both sides of the coin. And we are using in, for instance, the FCC ace relay platform, open standard relay service platform. But it does have regular standards in it. Open source is on its own is not the solution. We all need to work together and get the right kind of standardization, the right kind of open source inclusion, and we need to communicate. So come see me afterwards and we'll have a chat, and I'll get somebody to translate.
>> ANNA ESTERHUYSEN: Metro for All is totally open source and open data. You can come and talk to me afterwards as well. Sorry.
>> I think open source has a very important role and an example is screen‑reading software for mission impaired people called NVDA. And it is free for users. It's based on open source available on the Microsoft platform. But it costs money still to develop. So I just wanted to make a point that it is important. It can be successful because it means that the end user benefits with free software.
>> MODERATOR: Quickly.
>> I'd like to add, for example, if you see the screen readers market, you see that if you buy a screen reader, if you need to buy a screen reader, is completely different when you have mainstreaming technology that already have the screen reader. We need to jump from the units of thousands to billions of units that all has paid and use who need it. This is the mainstreaming technology. I think this will happen when the companies don't see the accessibility like social responsibility, but a vector of quality of products.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much. And we have run over. We clearly needed another hour to go through everything. But I just wanted to thank all of our speakers for generously sharing their expertise. And I hope everyone here got something of value from this workshop. That was the intent.
I think we've touched on a lot of very important issues. Again, I keep hearing the importance of multi‑stakeholder, having multiple stakeholders at the table to grapple with these issues. We've talked about new challenges. We've talked about the importance of standards development and interoperability of standards. We've talked about the importance of reaching out and cooperating internationally. So I think we have a lot of food for thought here. And hopefully this will serve as a foundation for a follow‑up workshop next year at the IGF. And another important thing about the IGF is we wouldn't be having ‑‑ it serves as an important venue for these types of conversations and information sharing. So thank you all for attending. And let's thank our speakers.