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Towards an Inclusive Future

Towards an inclusive future
the coming years. To achieve these objectives, it is important to make everyone aware that
eAccessibility is a positive factor for the competitiveness of our industries. Technology is
pointless unless it ultimately meets the needs of society. This must be fully reflected in the
European policies for building the Information Society. eAccessibility is thus essential to
achieving an inclusive society and key for the success of the i2010 initiative, A European
Information Society for Growth and Employment.
European funding on research and development for accessible technologies and services
is not the only precondition to building an information society for all. To ensure that
everyone has the opportunity to benefit from these impressive technological advances, it
is also essential to create a legal and economic environment in which these European
socio-economic objectives can be achieved. The various factors that can contribute to the
risk of exclusion are indeed often interrelated, like poverty, low level of education,
unemployment, disability and old age. These need to be addressed in a consistent and
coherent policy framework.
A truly inclusive Information Society must be socially and economically sustainable. For
many years, accessibility efforts have been concentrated on removing existing barriers. But
this is not enough. COST 219 activities have been pioneers in preventing eAccessibility
problems by promoting a Design for All approach for telecommunication products and
This book addresses the accessibility of next generation ICT networks and services running
on them. Some of the specific issues in this context are: how to ensure accessibility to new
IP based communication solutions? What features do we need to build in next generation
networks to ensure real time multimodal conversations? How to ensure the accessibility
of emergency numbers? Next generation networks offer immense opportunities for
having, besides voice, good quality real time video communication using sign language
and text, including for example display in real time virtual Braille. This would open up new
communication opportunities in particular for deaf-blind persons.
The time is ripe for addressing these issues, asking questions such as the ones above. This
book will certainly contribute to the debate and stimulate the implementation of
accessible solutions in next generation networks. I welcome this important contribution to
the telecommunications field and to the construction of an Inclusive Information Society
in Europe.
Viviane Reding
Member of the European Commission
for Information Society and Media