Industry group GSMA outlined a framework for increasing digital inclusion for persons with disabilities, urging the industry to address current barriers around using mobile-enabled products and services.

Marking the UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities (3 December), the GSMA launched Principles for Driving the Digital Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities, which aims to close “the mobile disability gap”.

The initiative calls for action around embracing inclusivity at every level of an organisation in the industry and removing any barriers to accessing mobile products and services by placing “persons with disabilities at the heart of the design process”.

Mats Granryd, director general of the GSMA (pictured), explained it is “time for the mobile industry to take steps to ensure our products and services are accessible, unlocking the power of connectivity so that all people thrive”.

The Association noted mobile phones are “cost-effective tools to enable greater inclusion and participation for persons with disabilities”, as they can combine multiple assistive technologies in a single device.

Research by the GSMA in low- and middle-income countries found persons with disabilities were less likely to own smartphones and use mobile internet than those without disabilities.

The framework has already been signed by a number of operators including Dialog Axiata, Optus, Orange, Safaricom and Telefonica.