The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Wednesday released a consultation paper on ‘making ICT accessible for persons with disabilities (PwDs)’ to identify key areas where policy interventions are needed to understand the barriers being faced by these people.

With this consultation paper, the authority wants to understand if affirmative actions at policy level in the form of recommendations to the government or formation of regulation or advisory to equipment/ service providers or a combination of these, it said.

“While many policy measures and government schemes have been set rolling, not much has happened on the ground. This indicates that a thorough review of measures already implemented should be undertaken and a new strategy needs to be designed for future measures,” TRAI said.

Some of the questions that TRAI raised in the paper include -- should the government incentivise the manufacturing and development of ICT tools and devices like tools for mobile accessibility, TV accessibility or for web accessibility for PwDs – and if any funding mechanism for the development of applications, devices and services meant for the PwDs be considered.

What measures can be taken so that emergency services are made more accessible for PwDs and should the implementation of these measures by TSPs be made mandatory by the government, it asked in the consultation paper.

If the device/ handset manufacturers be mandated to manufacture at least one model of handsets for PwDs which is having accessibility features and which are compatible with assistive technology features such as hearing and visual aids including emergency buttons, TRAI solicited in the paper.

It also asked if the government or the authority itself can mandate that the devices used for watching television provided through cable, satellite/ DTH, fibre and the likes can be made accessible to PwDs.

Quoting studies from Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, TRAI said there is an increase in number of PwDs observed between 2001 and 2011, as per the last census data in India.

This increase has occurred both for urban and rural areas. The percentage of PwDs to the total population grew from 2.13 per cent in 2001 to 2.21 per cent in 20113 with 2.68 crore PwDs in the country. Therefore, the country needs policy intervention, to help those persons, TRAI observed.

It has sought for comments January 22 and the counter comments by February 2018 from the stakeholders.