is one of the main tools of our everyday lives. We call our friends,
family, doctor, dentist, office, bank, library, the citizen's
advice bureau, helplines, our lawyer, transport enquiries, information
directories - in fact almost everyone is available at the end
of a telephone line.
In our homes
the telephone gives easy access to the outside world. For many
people it is their main link with others. This is particularly
so for disabled and elderly people. However, the telephone can
be a barrier to communication if it is difficult to use.
- not such an easy tool
and elderly people have difficulty using telephones. For example,
buttons can be difficult to distinguish and some telephones can
be difficult to hold without accidently pressing the keys. The
huge range of telephones in all shapes and sizes that come packed
with features can also present problems for even the most able
has been produced to show how important it is for telephones to
be designed so that they can be used by as many people as possible.
In particular, this booklet aims to inform the companies that
design, manufacture and sell telephones about the features that
elderly and disabled people would find helpful.
for a response
is also designed to inform regulators within Europe that if the
competitive market does not deliver suitable equipment, the provision
of appropriate telephone terminals may have to be underwritten
that can make all the difference
example of the features outlined in this booklet is dial-out buffer
memory. This feature can be very helpful to people who cannot
dial quickly. Many elderly people find it difficult to read a
telephone number and dial it with speed. With a dial-out buffer
memory a person can carefully dial a number at their own speed,
read it on a screen to check it is correct and when ready press
'dial'. This Website outlines 44 beneficial features such as this
which could be selectively incorporated in domestic telephone
terminals. The features are matched against disability groups
with an explanation of the way the features can improve access.
wish to encourage manufacturers to make use of this publication
when planning their own market surveys so that appropriate questions
can be asked. The ultimate aim is to ensure that telephones are
designed to be a convenient gateway to communications for as many
people as possible.
Most of the
features described in the Website will be seen as desirable options,
but for many disabled and elderly people they will be the essential
means to enable telephone access. When considering the cost of
these features it is necessary to balance cost against desirability.
elderly people make up a much larger group of society than many
people realise. They are also helped by many friends and relatives
who notice how difficult it can be for them to use such basic
tools as the telephone. This group in total is a large customer
base for telephone suppliers so it is important to maintain goodwill
by responding to their needs. This booklet defines cost categories
for adding accessibility features. Many of the features can be
added at little or no extra cost if included at the design stage.
drives the provision of telephones which are accessible to disabled
people, and the accessibility features have not been built in,
replacement of equipment could be expensive and disruptive, particularly
for the managers of premises and facilities who are under obligation
to comply. For manufacturers, the high cost of retrofits to existing
designs will make it wiser to consider accessibility requirements
as early as possible.
design for disabled people is often good design for everyone