eA11 Transcript: Ed Vaizey MP


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Transcript of the Keynote video message to e-Access 11 from Ed Vaizey MP, Minister for Communication, Culture and the Creative Industries

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eA11 Transcript: Ed Vaizey MP

  1. 1. e-Access 11, 28 June, Westminster - TRANSCRIPT<br />Keynote: E-accessibility: maintaining the momentum in government<br />Speaker: Ed Vaizey, Minister for Communication, Culture and the Creative Industries (video message).<br />Good morning. I am very sorry I couldn’t be at today’s e-accessibility conference.<br />I am afraid I’ve had to go to a conference with ministers from all round the world to discuss the future of the internet, so it’s slightly relevant but I couldn’t get out of it.<br />I do intend to continue my support for the e-accessibility agenda, and will be having meetings with key stakeholders over the next few weeks to take forward the agenda.<br />We do now have a Cabinet committee established with colleagues from across Whitehall departments to take forward the e-accessibility agenda.<br />I’ve had a look at the agenda for today’s conference and it looks very full and very informative.<br />You’ll hear from Sandi Wassmer on the principles of inclusive design, as well as attending workshops and round tables on a wide range of issues including issues that face disabled and older people and their use of digital technologies now and in the future.<br />The good news is that there is a powerful case for ensuring that disabled and older people can participate fully online and in their lives through the use of digital technologies.<br />And not just for disabled and older people themselves but that’s good news for society as a whole.<br />By bringing older people and disabled people into technology use we can have a much more inclusive and productive society, so that’s one of the reasons I’m so passionate about this agenda.<br />The arguments are absolutely compelling, many have been put forward by champions in the audience here today. And that’s why I set up the eAccessibility Forum to bring together all the great work happening in the UK and launched the eAccessibility Action plan, last November.<br />When I spoke to this conference last year I highlighted what the government was planning to do to make IT products and services more accessible to all members of society, and most importantly for older people and those who have disabilities.<br />The eAccessibility action plan is a key tool to develop government policy in this area as well as providing business and other organisations with the right tools to enable everyone to contribute to the UK digital economy.<br />And so for this to happen we must create the right environment for businesses and third sector organisations.<br />So this is what we have done so far.<br />First of all, we held four workshops around the implementation of the revised EU Framework on Electronic Communications Networks and Services and you know that that that framework came into UK law at the end of May.<br />Our consultation was used to inform how best to implement the changes so that they didn’t increase the burden of red tape on UK businesses and organisations.<br />But the framework does introduce new provisions, particularly in the Universal Service Directive, on equivalence of access and choice for disabled end users.<br />The revised framework builds on and strengthens the provisions of equivalence in the Universal Service Order.<br />It sets out special measures that ensure that all end-users, including those with disabilities and special social needs, have access to certain services irrespective of their geographical location and importantly, at a price that they can afford.<br />OFCOM are now reviewing what future relay services would look like for disabled people in the UK, and I will be watching the outcome of that before I make any decisions, and they are planning to publish a consultation paper shortly which I am sure people in this room will want to respond to.<br />As I mentioned earlier, we have created the new Cabinet committee. It’s got the catchy Whitehall name of PEX (ER) to bring together all digital inclusion activity and policy within government. So that means the joining up of the Digital Services Strategy Team in the Cabinet Office as well as working with the UK Digital Champion Martha Lane Fox.<br />Secondly, we have to consider what consumer technology and digital equipment is on the market and how issues surrounding affordability and availability of assistive technologies can be resolved by designing equipment for all.<br />What that means is designing equipment for use by everyone, and with the needs of disabled and older already factored in before the equipment comes on the market.<br />When the purchase of specialist equipment is necessary, we need to work out how we can mitigate or offset the cost barriers to engaging in the digital world. The Forum has already managed to build changes into the government’s procurement process so that from now on all new major IT projects that we undertake, all products and services that we launch include the Cabinet Office single portal for Government AlphaGov, and that they are built with accessibility from the outset for both end users and employees and are not seen as an add on afterwards.<br />We are also discussing with the Department for Work and Pensions how we can bring down the cost of equipment on the Access to Work scheme.<br />Thirdly, we are going to look at how we can improve website services.<br />I know that Forum members have been heavily involved with producing guidance so people are aware of what they need to do<br />but you should also take a look at the ten principles of design that Sandi produced for the DCMS website.<br />I want to see an increase in the accessibility of government online services especially as we are now looking to go down the route of the single government portal Alpha.gov.<br />This includes the promotion of developing websites that enable the use of Assistive Technology such as screen readers and uses WCAG. 2.0 (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) and double-A standards.<br />Fourth, we will continue to work to remove barriers and make content accessible. This will involve looking at the issues that surround the rules and regulations for television subtitles and audio-description.<br />And the Digital Television Group, which is a member of the forum, is considering what needs to be done to deliver subtitles, audio description and text to speech services for connected television such as YouView.<br />The Forum will also look at how a wider selection of publishing material, such as e-books, which are now becoming all the rage, can be made more accessible to the visually impaired.<br />Fifthly, the Forum will, as I will, continue to promote and raise awareness of the issues of e-accessibility and ensure that we make the necessary progress to achieve an inclusive society.<br />Martha Lane Fox, The UK Digital Champion, will from now on be championing accessibility as well.<br />The plan has been well-received by industry and the voluntary sector since its launch and the eAccessibility Forum members have been actively working over the last 12 months on actions within the plan.<br />Its aims can only be delivered successfully if people grasp the opportunities that it offers. The digital economy depends on making sure that everyone can contribute and everyone can benefit. Too many people are currently excluded, and we want to see that change.<br />We believe it will be the collaboration and partnerships that will occur between business, the voluntary sector and the government that will make the difference.<br />So I want to encourage everyone here to take part fully in today’s conference, to attend the plenary discussions and make sure your voice is heard. Our vision is to make sure that everyone regardless of ability has the opportunity to take part and be part of the UK digital economy.<br />And can I also take this opportunity to thank my officials for all their hard work on this, to thank everyone from the voluntary sector who participates so enthusiastically in the work of the Forum, and to thank industry for coming to the table and engaging with us on these very important issues.<br />[ENDS]<br />