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    Digital Interactive Television in the UK: is the opportunity for 'inclusivity' being missed?

    Accessible Design in the Digital World Conference 2005

    Dundee, Scotland, 23 - 25 August 2005


    Alex Carmichael, Mark Rice & David Sloan


    The switchover to digital television (DTV) will bring about an expansion of entertainment and information services available via the TV, and in doing so fundamentally changes traditional concepts of household viewing.

    From a UK perspective, the technological infrastructure of DTV has the potential to foster the social inclusion of vulnerable groups, such as disabled and elderly people, by improving their ability to receive enhanced access to content and other services available via this expanding medium.

    Yet, despite encouragement from a variety of stakeholders who recognise this opportunity (and the challenges along the way), and given the responsibilities of the regulatory body Ofcom under the terms of The Communications Act, progress so far has been disappointing. Far from increasing access for these vulnerable groups, there is a significant risk of increasing their marginalisation and disfranchisement, partly because DTV equipment is inherently more complex to operate than is analogue, but mainly because steps have not been taken to ensure that consideration is given to the wide diversity of abilities within the viewing population for the design of DTV equipment and services.

    This paper describes some of the fundamental issues that are stifling progress toward universal access in the development of DTV, and in doing so illustrates some of the barriers to this new infrastructure being an inclusive success.


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