The proposals will be of interest not just to service providers, but also to manufacturers of terminal equipment and retail outlets selling such equipment, who will need to keep abreast of any technical and/or sales requirements as the proposals develop.

The deadline for responding to the consultation was extended to 5pm on 6 September 2013.

The proposals in the consultation are based on matters raised and discussed at the Forum for Electronic Communications Services for People with Disabilities, taking into account a report published by the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (“BEREC”), issued in February 2011.

As the BEREC Report noted, people with disabilities are more vulnerable to isolation than non-disabled people, and therefore access to and choice of electronic communications services for consumers with disabilities is becoming increasingly important.

The measures proposed include:

  • a requirement that every entity providing pre-paid mobile services offer a SMS top-up facility which, inter alia, allows disabled end-users to pay for a top-up without the need to follow voice prompts;
  • a requirement that entities selling terminal equipment must provide a testing facility at their retail premises to allow disabled end-users who use a hearing aid or have a cochlear implant to test the equipment prior to purchase;
  • an accessible complaints procedure (including staff who are properly trained to deal with the requirements of disabled end-users); and
  • where subscribers are unable to use a phone book because of a vision impairment and / or have difficulty reading the book, special arrangements should be made to allow the use of a directory enquiry service free of charge.