Fri, Jan 22, 2016 - Page 5 News List

Act to ease media access to disabled

EQUAL ACCESS:The proposal includes a system of alerts for natural disasters, closed captioning for announcements and mandated programming with narration tracks

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

The National Communications Commission on Wednesday proposed an act aimed at eliminating all barriers for disabled people to access broadcast media and telecommunications services, adding that it would soon submit the draft to the Executive Yuan after hearing opinions from the public.

The commission said that the act was stipulated based on the principles and spirit stated in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, as well as the nation’s People with Disabilities Rights Protection Act (身心障礙者權益保障法) and the Fundamental Communications Act (通訊傳播基本法).

The proposed act lists 53 specific measures to ensure that physically challenged people have equal access to online information, as well as content on broadcasting media and telecom services.

To prepare the proposal, the commission consulted experts seven times last year.

More consultation sessions are to be held this year among government officials, industry experts, college professors and disabled individuals, the commission said.

The commission invited a sign language specialist to Wednesday’s press conference to interpret the proposed policy for speech and hearing-impaired persons watching an online simulcast of the event.

Commission spokesperson Yu Hsiao-cheng (虞孝成) said that telecom carriers are to introduce a cell broadcasting system in April to quickly disseminate public messages on natural disasters to disabled users. The system would send an alert to users through their mobile phones via vibration mode or sound an alarm.

Yu said that telecoms are also encouraged to offer disabled users discounts on fixed and mobile network communications.

Commission Chief Secretary Jason Ho (何吉森) said that Public Television Service and commercial terrestrial television stations would be asked to produce 50 hours of programs each year that have additional narration tracks for visually impaired people.

Government agencies and television stations would also be encouraged to provide sign language interpretation when they make important announcements or need to deliver emergency messages, Ho said.

The image of the translator should not be smaller than one-sixth of the television screen, he said.

“Apart from sign language interpretation, we are also considering having simultaneous transcript aired on television screens or through mobile applications,” Ho said, adding that the commission still needs to hear from the experts.

Ho said the government agencies should invite disabled people to test their Web sites to determine if they are indeed user-friend.y.

Government agencies are also encouraged to secure the labels proving that their Web sites are barrier-free, he said.

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