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Our Actions, Outputs and Stakeholder Engagement...

In February 2010 the Panel commissioned the independent research agency Ricability to conduct research into the usability of mobile phones. The aims of the research were to:

  • Identify which, if any, features increase the usability of mobile phones for mainstream users; and
  • Assess whether these feature also improve usability for older and disabled users and which additional features, if any, would further increase usability for this group.

The Panel worked closely with specialists in access and inclusion at Ofcom to help scope and commission the research.

The research included a literature review, interviews with manufacturers, operators and third sector organisations, user trials and focus groups. The user trials included people of a wide range of ages with and without disabilities. As part of the research process Ricability also formed an expert advisory group to help guide the research. This included members from Which?, Age UK, RNIB, RNID, the Engineering Design Centre at the University of Cambridge, the GSMA trade association and the Mobile Manufacturers' Forum (MMF).

Using the research findings the Panel continued to engage with the expert advisory group, as well as with representatives from manufacturers, retailers, mobile network operators and voluntary and third sector organizations, to help interpret the research and develop the recommendations. In November 2010 the Panel organised a stakeholder meeting with representatives from all the different interested parties in order to discuss recommendations and next steps, and continued to engage with stakeholders as the report was finalised and the findings and recommendations disseminated. This helped secure buy-in to the recommendations, creating a platform for implementation. The final report was published in January 2011.

Copies of the report and letters highlighting the key findings were sent to all key stakeholders, including the Ministers responsible for consumer affairs, communications and disability, and the relevant All-Party and Select Committees.

Since publication the Panel has been talking to a number of other bodies to discuss how to take forward the recommendations set out in the report, in particular the eAccessibility Forum and Ofcom.

The e-Accessibility Forum is an initiative led by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). It brings together Government, industry and the voluntary sector to explore and understand issues surrounding e-accessibility so better and more inclusive services can be developed, enabling users and industry to benefit from sharing best practice across all sectors. BIS has agreed to share the findings of this report and help bring together key players to develop the recommendations set out in this report. The Panel will be presenting the findings and recommendations from the report to Forum members in April 2011.

We are also in discussion with Ofcom to examine how they might continue to bring together manufacturers, mobile operators, retailers and voluntary and third sector organisations to progress the recommendations set out in this report.

The Panel is also seeking other dissemination opportunities. In March 2011 it will be presenting the findings and recommendations at a Westminster eForum event on The Future of Mobile. Members of the Panel team will also be providing an article on the research for the March issue of Ability magazine.

>> Making Phones Easier to use: Views From Consumers

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