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Conference “An Accessible Future” held

In the digital society, it is important to provide all with access to services, content, and information, and this is only possible through coordinated actions.

ZAGREB, June 14, 2022 - Following the invitation of the organizer, the Croatian Regulatory Authority for Network Industries (HAKOM), the International Conference on the “Accessible future” was held on Tuesday, June 14, in Zagreb. It refers to the persons with disabilities in modern (digital) society. The aim of the conference was to exchange experience and ideas on improving accessibility for persons with disabilities in the markets for which HAKOM is a national regulator (electronic communications, rail services, and postal services), but also to generally find models for how certain solutions can improve accessibility beyond the mentioned markets. The conference further sought to raise society's awareness of common aspirations for universal solutions (universal design) and to point out that technology is in many cases a solution to a range of challenges faced by people with disabilities. One of HAKOM's fundamental tasks is to protect the interests of all users (consumers), which includes vulnerable consumer groups, including persons with disabilities. In the digital society, it is important to give everyone access to services, content, and general information, and therefore a part of HAKOM’s protection activities are based on cooperation with the academic community and civil society organizations in order to achieve greater accessibility for persons with disabilities in an increasingly digital society. One of HAKOM's priorities is to create a framework for as accessible as possible services in the fields of electronic communications, passenger rail transport, and postal services, but always based on the involvement of persons with disabilities and a scientific approach in addressing these challenges.

Conclusions of the conference
In addition, the conference dealt with topics of the new legislative framework in the field of electronic communications and further clarified the provisions of Directive (EU) 2016/2102 on the accessibility of websites and mobile applications of public sector bodies, as well as of Directive (EU) 2019/882 on accessibility requirements for products and services whose transposition into national legislation of the Republic of Croatia is still expected.
The conclusions of the meeting are that it is necessary to include associations of persons with disabilities in the process of making accessible solutions and develop a manual on the appropriate treatment of persons with disabilities, maintain a link between FER-associations-stakeholders in the markets regulated by HAKOM, implement an accessibility project in relation to railway transport, distribute the “Susretnica” application in the Croatian elementary schools, intensify regional cooperation among regulators in order to exchange knowledge and ideas, support accessible communication solutions in relation to number 112, and educate older people about the way of the electronic age.

Coordinated action until satisfactory changes
In his opening speech, Tonko Obuljen chair at HAKOM stressed that ensuring preconditions and taking all available actions for the inclusion of persons with disabilities is one of the fundamental pillars of HAKOM's activities as a national regulator for electronic communications, post, and rail markets. This activity is of great importance the at EU level. Electronic communications services are crucial for citizens' everyday lives and are an important backbone of the country's economic progress. Information has become the basis for the development of the economy and further prosperity of society, and access to information is the main fact in the personal development of the individual and also his ticket to participate in contemporary digital events.-The wish and responsibility of HAKOM is to provide a platform for effective and efficient application of user equality, which we strive and will continue to achieve through active cooperation with all competent authorities in the Republic of Croatia and primarily through cooperation with all associations for persons with disabilities. Only joint coordinated action can achieve the results we all strive for."

About 600 thousand citizens with disabilities live in Croatia
Darijo Jurišić, Deputy Ombudsperson for Persons with disabilities, stressed that the EU strongly encourages and supports accessible information and communication solutions, auxiliary technologies, development of digital skills and essential enhancement and facilitation of participation in disadvantaged persons both; in the digital society and their presence in the single market. In the Republic of Croatia, about 600 thousand citizens live with some sort of disability, and in 27 EU Member States more than 80 million people or almost every sixth person. Achieving preconditions and ensuring equal participation and opportunities for achieving an active and more active role for persons with disabilities in society is a priority for everyone. Regulatory bodies play a significant role in this, and this accessibility window is becoming increasingly important because many of our needs and processes are moving to the digital sector. The challenges of today's life in the digital age are certainly different and bigger than those we have encountered in the past, and such trends will continue. Therefore, it is important to learn about the problems of persons with disabilities, technologies, and assistive technologies, which can contribute to their solutions and plan other future accessible solutions. It is important to take into account the key challenges of accessibility and the necessary appropriate forms of protection of persons with disabilities as users of services and their active involvement in a challenging and growing environment of digitalization. Cooperation with the academic community, technology and standards experts, and cooperation with institutions and market operators is very important in recognizing these new circumstances. The obligation to existence and development of accessible websites and applications already exists in the Republic of Croatia and it is in force for all public sector bodies. But we have to pay attention to respecting the quality of these obligations. We also hope that everyone else in the real sector will recognize the need for accessible web to be a much better and more efficient way of transmitting information and messages we want to communicate – Jurišić said, recalling two important concepts, reasonable adjustment and universal design, important tools for making content more accessible to everyone, all with the aim of having equal opportunities for everyone in society. 
Presentations and panel discussions
A number of presentations were held within the scope of the conference, and the panel discussion on “Key Challenges of Accessibility”, moderated by Denis Marijon (SUMSI), was attended by Nevena Zubčić (Association of Ideas), Tatjana Varga (Spinal Injuries Zagreb), Suzana Suvajac (Association of Disabled Workers) and Branimir Šutalo (Association of Blind Persons). Tanja Zaninović from HAKOM held a presentation on “An Accessable Future”, and Amela Odobašić from the BiH Communications Regulatory Agency held her presentation as well. “An Inclusive ICT for disasters and emergencies” was the title of Dušan CAFA from the Digitas Institute (ITU), and the application on “Inclusive Digital Policy in Sweden, opportunities and challenges” was held by Mia Ahlgren from the Swedish Disability Rights Federation.” Accessibility for All” was the subject of a presentation by Marija Livajušić from the Centre for Research, Education and Applied Knowledge UP2DATE. The Platform Slavica – WEB RTC was presented by Zdravka Baštijan and Tea Domin from the Croatian Association of the Deaf, while the presentation on “Life in the Digital Age” was held by Josip Koštan from CeDePe.

The topic of “Technological solutions for digital accessibility,” was held by D.Sc. Ivana Rašan from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing of the University of Zagreb. She spoke about all projects and activities undertaken so far in cooperation with HAKOM and FER on the issue. The presentation entitled “Assistance Technology for a better life of Persons with Disabilities” was held by Prof. Miroslav Vrankić from the Faculty of Engineering, University of Rijeka. “Accessibility of persons with disabilities” was the subject of a presentation held by Željko Posavec from Ludbreg High school, and a presentation on “Innovative technology for detection of multi-sensory interactive digital images” was held by Željko Khermayer from Feelif d.o.o. "We have talked a lot about ideas coming from all around the world, which we assume and try to implement in Croatia. In this area we are good, we started long ago with accessibility for all, and we had been working on it for 15 years while there was no law, no Directive, no obligation. “We have started to “migrate” some knowledge and experiences from Croatia to the EU,” Ignac Lovrek, a Full professor at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing at the University of Zagreb, emphasizing FER's project “INNOSID - Innovative solutions based on new technologies for improving social inclusion of persons with disabilities.” The aim of the project is to develop multilingual support for European applications developed in Croatia and to create new IT tools to help improve social inclusion and improve the higher education system.

PHOTO: Davor Puklavec/PIXSELL

For additional information please contact:

Croatian Regulatory Authority for Network Industries (HAKOM)

  • Roberta Frangeša-Mihanovića 9 Street
  • 10110 Zagreb, Croatia
  • Tel. + 385 (0) 1 700 70 07
  • Fax + 385 (0)1 700 70 70

Media inquiries can be submitted online using HAKOM’s official website:

About Hakom

HAKOM - Croatian Regulatory Authority for Network Industries – ensures preconditions for a fair market competition, stable growth and environment for innovations in the electronic communications and postal services market. HAKOM protects users’ interests and the possibility of choice among various communications and postal services at affordable prices, defines sustainable competitive conditions for operators and service providers under fair conditions for return on investment, and provides support to economic growth, public services and the quality of life in the Republic of Croatia by using modern technologies. HAKOM’ strategic goals are: to promote regulation of the electronic communications and postal services market, to support growth of investments and innovations in the electronic communications and postal services market, to provide efficient use of limited resources, to accelerate the growth of broadband products and services, to provide affordable offers of communications and postal services, to provide protection and informing of users, to build an efficient and comprehensive information system, to define and implement efficient processes, and to acquire multi-disciplinary expertise in market regulation.