This June, the Broadband Adoption Act of 2015 [S. 1472] was introduced with the goal of reforming and modernizing the Universal Service Fund (USF) Lifeline Assistance Program. If passed, the legislation would require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) to 1) establish a national database to determine consumer eligibility for Lifeline and to prevent duplication, and (2) establish a broadband Lifeline Assistance program that provides low-income Americans living in rural and urban areas with assistance in subscribing to affordable broadband service. Incorporating the provision of broadband into the Lifeline Program could potentially increase adoption by some people with disabilities who have cited affordability as their main barrier to becoming a broadband subscriber.
The FCC was also a matter of consideration for the Government Accountability Office (GAO) who conducted a review of the Commission’s efforts to implement provisions of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA) [PL 111-260]. After conducting a survey of stakeholders, of which the Wireless RERC was included as a respondent, the GAO suggested that the FCC evaluate the “quality, quantity, and timeliness of the outreach program.” In June, the FCC initiated more action regarding the CVAA when they released a Request for Comment - Petition for Partial Extension of Class Waiver of Commission's Rules for Access to Advanced Communications Services and Equipment by People with Disabilities [CG Docket No. 10-213]. The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) asked the FCC for continued exemption from CVAA rules requiring video game equipment and software to be accessible. The ESA requests the extension of this waiver because of the technical issues in making assistive technology for video games. By October 8th, the FCC will decide if they will grant the extension.
In Wireless RERC news, the App Factory 2015-2016 Call for Proposals is still seeking developers based in the U.S. to submit proposals for financial support to develop assistive and/or accessibility apps for mobile platforms (e.g., Android, Blackberry, iOS, Windows). Additionally, the Wireless RERC's research team is pleased to announce the launch of the 2015 Survey of User Needs (SUN) for Wireless Technologies. Please consider participating in the Survey of User Needs. You can participate on the web, on the phone, or we can send you a paper copy with a postage paid return envelope.