Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Disability Broadband Proposal

Paul Budde has released a "Australia - National Broadband Network - Disability Broadband" (22 August 2011). This proposes a national coordinated strategy to use the NBN and on-line services to improve access for those with a disability. While this is a good idea in principle, the document is vague about what it proposes be done.

Universal service obligations are a complex area. See "Telecommunications Policy In Australia and People with Disabilities" which I published for Michael J Bourk (2000) for some history of this area.

Paul Budde Communication Pty Ltd, have provided their report as a free nine page PDF download (270 Kbytes). Unfortunately, as this is PDF it is less accessible for those with a disability, than a web page meeting W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, have been. Here is an excerpt from the report:
New technologies are offering unprecedented opportunities for people with disability, older Australians and people experiencing illnesses to develop a much more inclusive and accessible infrastructure for a range of communication, information and social applications.

A new approach using the significant investment being made by the government in the NBN, and its related trans-sector policies in e-health, e-education, e-government, e-commerce and smart grids,
would allow the disability community to break through the many inflexible silo-based structures that have been created over the last 50 years. It could also help to break down the inflexible, vertically-integrated structures that impede competition and innovation while at the same time increasing costs.

There are many silo-based systems within this sector, mainly due to the technical limitations that have existed in the past. Broadband technologies now give us the chance to take a fresh look and explore ways of introducing more innovative applications, which will enable a more seamless integration of services to these communities into the broader array of services in our community.

The trans-sector approach is a crucial element in the creation of a more inclusive society.

The government and the wider community should take all of the new opportunities into account, consider the all of the new possibilities that broadband has to offer the more disadvantaged groups in our society. This report provides a broad outline of what these opportunities are and how they can be
further developed.

Taking these new developments and opportunities into account a new policy scheme should be designed and funded – one that is framed, not in line with the current silo-based environment, but according to the trans-sector approach, since this would better meet the long-term needs of the people addressed in the review, their families and carers.

With the proposed inclusive broadband infrastructure, using cloud computing as its IT utility, employers will see reduced accommodation costs and employees will be able to get to work right away, without having to specially provision each workstation they need to use.

By utilising new technologies such as those developed by broadband and internet media companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, etc a demand-based service can determine the people most in need of support, the services that should be available to them, and the appropriate service delivery arrangements.

A trans-sector approach based on broadband is far more efficient and effective than the dozens of often competing and uncoordinated processes currently used by many of government departments and agencies. Apart from this, the lifestyle improvements that can be achieved by this new approach offer enormous social and economic benefits to the people involved, as well as to their carers, employees, friends and families.

Government leadership is needed to break through the many silos, as it is extremely unlikely that these changes can be achieved from within the silos structures of health, aged care, informal care, income support and the injury insurance system.

This report proposes to commence the transition – from the present rather outdated communications technologies to a much more efficient and effective system. Such a transition could be developed in parallel with the rollout of the NBN.

At the start most users would still use existing technologies and other traditional services as they are currently used by the communities. However, towards the end of that period a full transition will have been made. Obviously there will always be a need for some highly specialised stand-alone services for some, but in one way or another even most of these people will benefit from this new inclusive access infrastructure – for example, with many ATs (assistant technologies) being linked through systems such as the IoT (Internet of Things). ...

From: Australia - National Broadband Network - Disability Broadband" Paul Budde Communication Pty Ltd, 22 August 2011

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