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Committed to Connecting the World - EFHOH at International Telecommunication Union (ITU)
Since last year, EFHOH started close cooperation with International Communication Union (ITU)
You may remember our communications in relation to interference issues possibly affecting hard of hearing people using Assistive Listening Devices (ALD) and how sales of new mobile networks can potentially affect us. Since we were active on this issue at the European level with EHIMA (European Association of Hearing Aids Manufacturers) and AEA (European Association of Hearing Aids Professionals), we have been invited to attend working meetings at ITU. It is not the first time EFHOH is involved in development of standards. We were previously involved with European Standard on Services offered by Hearing Aids professionals.
We received an invitation to bring our input to develop international standards. This has been quite natural step forward. At the ITU, persons with disabilities are represented through Global Initiative for Inclusive ICT (G3ict), a full Member of ITU. Since I became their consultant, EFHOH has been able to make direct contributions and propose new work on standards. Andrea Saks, who is the Head of G3ict delegation to ITU has been this year’s keynote speaker at our joint conference with NADP in London.
EFHOH has been active in the development of Safe Listening Recommendations, which will become an international standard in joint cooperation of the UN organizations of WHO and ITU. In the past we have taken part in the development of the EU Directive and the standard on safety levels of music players that are sold in EU.
Currently, ITU-T is looking to develop a new Standard called Remote Captioning Standard. It is important a development, which will help everyone from organisers of events to providers of programs and films; and to those who actually need captioning themselves.
With the small number of speech to text reporters available to support us, remote captioning is presenting the opportunity for better inclusion, especially in countries where such services are not available. With increasing involvement and awareness of the importance of captioning, there is a pressure to provide accessibility especially in the area international advocacy. This is vital in exchanges where English is so the called “working language” during proceedings.
Lastly, following the International Conference on Hearing Loops and Technology in Berlin, we are now working closely with experts to bring new, improved standards on hearing loops and assistive listening devices.
It is important to add that ITU is a UN Agency and has been working hard to make sure that persons with disabilities are involved in the development of standards from the beginning. The wonderful work and encouragement of Andrea Saks, who supports all persons with disabilities from G3ict as well as fantastic support from staff at ITU secretariat is a testament to that commitment.
I am truly excited by the opportunities that have opened up for us!
EFHOH Vice President
Consultant for G3ict