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Inclusive Design

Volume 405: debated on Tuesday 13 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) what steps her Department is taking to develop and promote the business case for inclusive design; [111169](2) what discussions her Department has had with manufacturers of digital radios on improving the accessibility of this equipment for visually impaired people; [111172](3) what steps her Department has taken

(a) to publicise good practice in inclusive design and (b) provide data, guidelines and case studies relating to inclusive design to those involved in the design and production of (i) digital television products, (ii) digital radio products and (iii) telecommunications products; [111170]

(4) whether her Department has produced a policy statement on inclusive design in relation to consumer equipment in the (a) telecommunications and (b) broadcasting sectors: and if she will make a statement. [111171]

The Digital Television Action Plan includes actions to ensure that digital television equipment and services are widely accessible. In 2001, the Government appointed CRSP, Loughborough University, to scope the human aspects of adopting digital television, including the needs of disabled people. The report was published in March 2002 and the recommendations fed into the Action Plan. The Action Plan's Technology and Equipment Group (comprising manufacturers, broadcasters, software/application providers and consumer groups) has an ongoing action to analyse the needs of disabled people and made reference to the issue in its first report. Copies of the reports are available on www.digitaltelevision.gov.uk.The Government recently appointed the Generics Group to undertake research on how consumers engage with and use digital television and this will consider individuals with special needs. We anticipate a report in July 2003. DCMS is working with the RNIB on a business plan for production of an audio description module. The Department of Trade and Industry's innovation programmes, in particular its Digital Testbed and LINK Broadcast Technology programmes, have explored using digital technologies to benefit elderly and disabled people. This includes work on automatic subtitling and an interface for portable digital radios.The Government continue to support and participate in work by relevant expert and advisory groups at European level to improve the availability and range of communications equipment available which is suitable or adapted for use by persons with disabilities. This includes the work programme being carried forward by a group called INCOM, which has a specific focus on inclusive communications.