Next Generation 3G Solutions Get Accessible for All

Major telecommunications companies pick up technology originally developed for deaf people's communication. Telecommunication features of essential value for deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind and speech-impaired people have been incorporated in a recently approved mainstream standard for 3G and Next Generation Networks.

"This is a big step towards the goal to make mainstream telecommunications useable for all", says Gunnar Hellstr?m, CEO at the accessible information technology company Omnitor, and original author of the standard for real-time text communication now picked up as one medium in the 3G Multimedia Telephony specification approved by the international 3G standardisation organisation 3GPP.

The new 3G standard includes real-time communication in both video, real-time text and voice, and is a great promise for disabled people, who often experience that mainstream communication leaves the features they need behind. Good smooth video for sign language and real-time text with immediate flow as typed are features of great importance for all telecom users who have limited or no use of voice telephony.

"I am sure that these media will prove to be popular among all users", says Gunnar. Already, Instant Messaging with its slower sentence-wise communication style has become popular, so that is a good indication when text services now can be enhanced by using real-time text with more lively flow of the conversation. Usability evaluations show that it matches the modern style of immediate communication required by the young generation.

The standard now included in mainstream Multimedia Telephony is called "RTP Payload for Text Conversation". It is already referenced and recommended in connection with accessibility, e.g. in the Swedish Handicap Ombudsman accessibility guidelines and the European Commission INCOM accessibility report from 2004. The uptake in a mainstream state-of-the art multimedia standard is yet another step towards the goals of Omnitor to contribute to a communication society for all.

The approval of this standard is a step towards fulfilment of many society communication goals. Omnitor has involvement in European actions towards accessible mainstream telecommunication services as well, where the now approved 3G standard has a place as an answer from mainstream industry on the strongly expressed need from European disability organisations to be provided with fully functional telecommunication services suiting their needs, including emergency services.

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