Canadian Wireless Providers Scoff at Accessible Hand Set Requirements

June 16, 2011.

COAT International Friend Neil Squire Society in Canada advised us of a recent government-commissioned report that confirms lack of accessible handsets in Canada for people with disabilities despite a directive in place for accessibility.

Apparently, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission ( CRTC), akin to the
FCC in the U.S., recently commissioned an independent study in response to complaints filed by the
Neil Squire Society and by individuals. In its complaint (found at link below), the Society alleges that Canadian wireless providers had not complied with the CRTC directive issued in July of 2009 that required that providers carry handsets the meet the needs of people who are blind, have moderate to severe mobility impairments and people with cognitive impairments.

Named in the complaint are Bell Canada, Telus, Sasktel, Rogers and MTS Allstream.

In its directive (“Broadcasting and Telecom Regulatory Policy 2009-430”) the CRTC requested wireless service providers to:

  • offer at least one mobile handset for persons who are blind and/or have moderate to severe mobility or cognitive disabilities
  • consult with groups that advocate on behalf of persons with disabilities to decide which handsets to offer, and to develop suitable packages of optional features for persons with disabilities
  • provide reasonable technical and lifecycle support for the handset to address special needs and assistive technologies

The March 2011 CRTC Report confirms Neil Squire Society’s assertion that wireless handsets that meet the requirements of that directive currently are not commercially available for
people with moderate to severe mobility impairments and people with cognitive impairments in Canada. It also confirms the need for formal procurement criteria by these companies for handsets that address disability accessibility.

For more on Neil Squire Society’s complaint, please contact Harry Lew, Manager of Technology Research and Development in British Columbia, Canada, via Email (

A copy of Neil Squire Society’s complaint to CRTC can be found at the link below.

Reproduced from