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Question 4/2

Question 4/2 - Human factors related issues for improvement of the quality of life through international telecommunications
(Continuation of Q.4/2)
This Question is aimed at meeting the telecommunication/ICT needs of all members of society, including older people and persons with disabilities, to maximize the accessibility and usability of telecommunication/ICT services and products.
The studies in this Question should lead to the better understanding of human factors and the needs of persons with disabilities. The acquisition and application of the required knowledge and relevant tools should enable all persons to benefit from developments in telecommunication/ICT and ensure that no new barriers to accessibility and usability are created. Such studies are also needed to reduce the cultural and linguistic barriers associated with the increasing amount of travel and cross-border movement.
This Question is also aimed at increasing uptake of services and therefore revenues by maximizing the accessibility and usability of all services and products through "universal design"* . WHO estimates that persons with disabilities comprise 10% of the world's population, so that greater usage of telecommunication/ICT services and products by such persons will generate additional revenues for service providers and vendors.

* Universal design" means the design of products, environments, programmes and services to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design. "Universal design" shall not exclude assistive devices for particular groups of persons with disabilities where this is needed. (Article 2 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities)

This Question also responds to paragraphs 2(g) and 2(h) of Article 9 "Accessibility" of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which came into force on 3 May 2008.
(g) Promote access for persons with disabilities to new information and communications technologies and systems, including the Internet;
(h) Promote the design, development, production and distribution of accessible information and communications technologies and systems at an early stage, so that these technologies and systems become accessible at minimum cost.
The following major Recommendations, in force at the time of approval of this Question, fall under its responsibility:
E.121, E.122, E.123, E.124, E.125, E.126, E.127, E.128, E.130, E.131, E.132, E.134, E.135, E.136, E.137, E.138, E.161, E.181, E.182, E.183, E.184, E.330, E.331, E.333, F.901, F.902, F.910.
The following factors are important:
  • presently, Q.4/2 is the only Question in ITU where human factors regarding ITU's businesses find a home;
  • Q.4/2 recently acquired new importance being one of the two Questions with which JCA-AHF is "affiliated"; JCA-AHF meetings up to now have always been joint meetings with either Q.4/2 or Q.26/16, which may be regarded, as the "natural HF partner" and "natural A partner", respectively, of JCA-AHF;
  • as to combining Q.4/2 with Q.26/16, which has been considered earlier, the argument that it is not sensible to put these two, more or less related Questions in only one SG, still holds, since that would reduce the visibility to the ITU world, and maybe beyond, of both accessibility- and human factors issues ;
  • however, it cannot be denied that the number of regular participants to the Q.4/2 meetings is very limited. Occasional participants from areas of the world where "human factors" are fairly or entirely unknown typically participate just once;
  • since "human factors", or "ergonomics", has lost outside the ITU in its capacity to attract active participants as well, it could be considered to try and redefine the scope of these disciplines. Though this has been tried before, the recent start-up in Q.4/2 of the creation of an ITU-T Recommendation, with the descriptions of user experience from TD 132 (WP 1/2), and the, rather encouraging, reactions from SG 12, could be one of the starting points for such a "new look" at the disciplines dealing with strengths and weaknesses of users of modern multi-media technology.
Study items to be considered include, but are not limited to:
  • Which basic elements of the human interface, such as access and control procedures for important functions of services, presentation of address or user feedback information, presentation of tone signals to international telecommunication services, are relevant to multiple services, and therefore should be made consistent or standardized to a certain extent, to simplify learning and accelerate user acceptance?
  • How can a smooth dialogue between the user and the service be ensured if this dialogue is voice-assisted?
  • What can be done to facilitate entering alphabetic information (not limited to Latin script) in a terminal with only a numeric keypad, by providing at least a certain degree of consistency across systems and services?
  • What Recommendations on language-specific issues need to be developed, such as for a language-free indication to enter a code for the language to be used for an interactive voice response service?
  • What Recommendations on new symbols and pictograms to assist telecommunication users, including symbols for facilities and services that accommodate people with disabilities, older people, and children need to be developed?
  • What enhancements or new Recommendations need to be developed to eliminate, or at least minimize, the difficulties that older people and people with disabilities often face when using publicly accessed services, through public or private terminals?
  • What Recommendations are needed to specify, and thereby promote the development and production of, mobile telephones with reduced complexity and increased usability, also for persons with disabilities, older people and children?
Tasks include, but are not limited to:
Maintenance and enhancements of those Recommendations in the E and F series that are related to human factors, with regard to applicability, interoperability, new user interface layers or other requirements.
NOTE – An up-to-date status of work under this Question is contained in the SG 2 work programme.
Within Study Group 2
  • Q.1/2
  • Q.3/2
  • ITU-T Q.26/16
  • ITU-D Q.20/1
With other groups
  • CEN TC 224 WG 6, "Man-machine interface"
  • ETSI TC HF, "Human Factors"
  • ISO/TC 159/SC 4, "Ergonomics of human system interaction"