The ITU Plenipotentiary Conference 2018 renewed ITU's mandate in the area of ICT accessibility, in
ITU Resolution 175 (Rev. 2018) on “Telecommunication/ICT accessibility for persons with disabilities and persons with specific needs". It also approved the
Connect 2030 Agenda, which sets out the vision, goals and targets that ITU and its Member States have committed to achieve by 2023. All three ITU Sectors have approved specific resolutions on accessibility at their respective Conferences.
ITU's Member States are fully committed to advancing ICT accessibility implementation in their countries and regions. The
Connect 2030 Agenda includes a bold target directed at cultivating government commitment to make the ICT sector inclusive of persons with disabilities and specific needs:
Target 2.9: Enabling environments ensuring accessible telecommunication/ICT for persons with disabilities should be established in all countries by 2023.
ITU has developed a series of resources to support ITU Member States in creating enabling environments ensuring accessible telecommunication/ICT for PwDs, and in building inclusive digital societies in their countries and regions. According to ITU's latest data, by 2019, 84 countries had established a regulatory framework to ensure ICT accessibility for persons with disabilities (Figure below). Regulatory frameworks can include accessibility requirements for: mobile communications; web accessibility; public procurement of accessible ICT; TV or video programming; and public ICT accessibility, as well as other areas.
Source: ITU Annual Report on the Strategic Plan 2019, page 42, available at:
ITU's Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R) promotes accesible wireless technological development to improve the accessibility of ICTs and to reduce the digital disabilities divide. It supports the advancement of a global disability-inclusive agenda for radiocommunication and broadcasting matters. Examples of relevant ITU-R deliverables on accessibility include:
Recommendation ITU-R SM.1896 - “Frequency Ranges for Global or Regional Harmonization of Short-Range Devices", which includes a new harmonized band for “Telecoil Replacement Systems (TRS) for persons with hearing disabilities".
Recommendation ITU-R M.1076 - "Wireless communication system s for persons with hearing disabilities".
Recommendation ITU-R RS.1346 - “sharing between the Meteorological Aids Service and Medical Implant Communication Systems (MICS) operating in the mobile service in the frequency band 401-406MHz."
- The technical criteria for high-quality comfortable images in broadcasting.
Recommendation ITU-R BT.1702- “Guidance for the reduction of photosensitive epileptic seizures caused by television.
Report ITU-R SM.2153 - “Technical and operating parameters and spectrum use for short range radiocommunication devices" for wireless applications in healthcare, such as hearing aids, guiding systems for the blind and medical implant communications systems (MICS).
Report ITU-R BT.2448 examines methods of making sign language available to end users.
Report ITU-R BT.2342 examines closed captioning methods for persons hard of hearing.
Report ITU-R BT.2207 addresses accessibility and hearing disabilities; sight impairment; aging audience; receiver user-friendliness for broadcasting services.
Report ITU-R BT.2447 - “AI systems for programme production and exchange".
ITU's Standardization Sector (ITU-T) develops international standards known as ITU-T Recommendations. Its work on accessibility started in the early 1990s with ITU-T V.18 text telephone. Since then, a number of ITU standards on accessibility have been developed within ITU-T SG16,
Question 26/16 on accessibility and
Question 24/16 on human factors and cooperated with advocacy organizations (such as the G3ict, WFD and RNIB), in addition to other technical groups such as ITU-T, D, R Study Groups and ISO/IEC JTC1 SC35. A sample of which is found in the ITU-T
Accessibility and Standardization.
Recently approved ITU-T Recommendations on accessibility include:
ITU-T F.791 (08/2018) provides accessibility terminology and terms with definitions harmonized with UN CRPD definitions.
ITU-T F.921 (08/2018) describes how audio-based network navigation systems can be designed to ensure that they are inclusive and meet the needs of persons with visual impairments.
ITU-T F.930 (03/2018) describes functional description of four common types of relay services in use today: text relay; video relay; captioned telephone service relay; speech-to-speech relay.
ITU-T H.702 (11/2015) defines the basic functions of accessibility services on IPTV.
H.871(07/2019) provides characteristics of Personal Sound Amplifiers and suggests ways of informing consumers about the potential unacceptable noise levels when using these devices for prolonged periods of time.
ITU-T Y.4204 (02/19) (ITU-T SG20) provides accessibility requirements for the Internet of Things (IoT) applications and services.
ITU-T also produces various
Technical Papers on accessibility:
FSTP-ACC-RCS (2018) provides introduction to remote captioning services, with background, technical, security and quality aspects.
FSTP-ACC-RemPart (2015) provides guidelines to ensure that remote participation in meetings is accessible for persons with disabilities.
FSTP-TACL (2006) provides checklist to ensure accessibility of specified services and features from the beginning of standards development process.
ITU's Development Sector (ITU-D) work in ICT accessibility supports the advancement of the global disability-inclusive agenda and the development of inc lusive digital communities. ITU-D helps raise awareness, build capacity and provide policy and strategy advice to ITU members. ITU-D has helped countries by implementing regional initiatives and activities linked to ICT accessibility in the Africa, Americas, Arab, Asia and Pacific European and CIS regions, through direct assistance to countries, development and provision of relevant guidelines, development and delivery of on-line and face-to-face trainings, toolkits, and reports, and by facilitating joint working platforms such as Study Group and regional “Accessible– ICT for ALL" knowledge development forums enabling stakeholders to share good practices and engaging in national and regional digital accessibility implementation. Finally, ITU-D is supporting members' efforts in mainstreaming digital accessibility to ensure the full and effective participation of everyone in the digital economy by developing and making available a series of useful resources.
ITU-R Resolution 67-1 governs “Telecommunication/ICT accessibility for persons with disabilities and persons with specific needs".
ITU-T World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA) Resolution 70 (Rev. Hammamet, 2016) addresses “Telecommunication/ICT accessibility for persons with disabilities".
ITU-D World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC) Resolution 58 (Rev. 2017) covers “Telecommunication/ICT accessibility for persons with disabilities and persons with specific needs".
Last update: October 2020