Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, 6 August 2019
There is a need to update universal service fund (USF) legislation in the region, in order to allow USFs to deliver both universal service and access to telecommunications, to adopt an inclusive definition of disability in keeping with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and to include technologically-neutral language that enables them to fund projects for new technologies. Where necessary, USFs should also amend their legislation to ensure the sustainability of their underlying economic models, given the changing structure and revenue sources of telecommunications markets in the Caribbean.
Many persons with disabilities (PWDs) and their representative organizations in the region are unaware of the existence of USFs in their countries. USFs should use public awareness campaigns to increase PWDs’ knowledge of USFs and the availability of funding. Communications strategies should be tailored to the special needs of PWDs, including ensuring that they reach PWDs who have
no access to online information and are not registered with organizations for persons with disabilities. USFs should also engage directly with organizations for persons with disabilities and invite them to submit project proposals...
Caribbean countries would benefit both from up-to-date model USF legislation and a common regional space to discuss and find solutions to challenges facing USFs, including improving engagement with persons with disabilities and other target groups. Countries with unimplemented USF legislation could then amend their legislation based on the model legislation, while countries without USF legislation would be encouraged to adopt the model legislation with appropriate changes for the national context. Furthermore, countries with active USFs could update their legislation using the model legislation as guidance.