Blaik Kirby, president of Bell Mobility in a statement to our source said, "Nearly 14 percent of Canadians 15 and older live with a disability and often face barriers that limit accessibility to the many benefits of mobile technology. Bell is helping break down these barriers with our leading lineup of accessible products tailored to meet the needs of all our customers." That is a large portion of society, and many of those with disabilities would love to participate in the wireless and mobile world – our excitement and freedom from connected wires, may mean more to them than it does to us. Just as many of us buy mobile devices for safety purposes – dear old Mom out on the highways by herself or for our kids to keep in contact – with a disability, the need for protection from your vulnerabilities are magnified.
Having access to equipment and a network able to handle such devices is imperative…and the right thing to do. It is not only the right thing to do, but the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has mandated that carriers in Canada must offer at least one mobile headset to people who are "blind and/or have moderate to severe mobility or cognitive disabilities." Bell has added several devices under a dedicated section that will fit that description – ones that emphasize "speech, cognitive, physical, hearing and vision related disabilities." The section is setup for the individual to select a device that meets their specific requirements.
There are devices such as the Doro 824 and Doro 824C designed specifically for those that need larger buttons, icons and text for the seeing impaired and those with hearing aid compatibility and a dedicated emergency button. Only available for Android devices, Bell offers a free Mobile Accessibility app that will read to you out loud what is happening on your displays.
A Bell spokesperson also told MobileSyrup that in the upcoming months they will offer a dedicated wireless plan for those "that are deaf or hard of hearing." No details were given as to how much it will cost nor what unique features might be included in the plan – but we should be reading about it in the near future and we will keep you informed. Possibly, this is only the start and other carriers will follow in catering to those most in need.