Technology and Disability Policy Highlights – April 2020

Date of Publication: 
2020 May

In April, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to make 1,200 megahertz of spectrum in the 6 GHz band available for unlicensed use to help the deployment of WiFi 6. According to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, the agency suggests the use of the 6 GHz band for low-power devices like "accessibility technology for Americans with disabilities, virtual reality gaming, augmented reality glasses, in-vehicle systems, and other emerging technologies." However, while some actively await the opportunity of WiFi 6, other organizations have raised concerns. The opinions of those in favor and those against the FCC's decision are discussed in the newsletter. Also on the FCC docket is a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to expand video description regulations. Starting on January 1, 2021, and continuing annually for four years, the NPRM proposes that ten additional designated market areas be added; the FCC invites comment on this proposal, specifically seeking, among other things to understand the economic impact of COVID-19 on the reasonableness of the proposed expansion requirements. Also related to COVID-19, the FCC released a Report and Order [85 FR 19892; 47 CFR 54] establishing a COVID-19 Telehealth Program and a Connected Care Pilot Program.

In Wireless RERC news, we have extended the deadline for paper proposal submissions for a special issue of the Assistive Technology journal to May 15, 2020. Read the full call for papers for details. We also continue data collection for our 2020 Survey of User Needs. If you haven't already, please take the survey. Finally, the Wireless RERC submitted comments to the FCC in response to their Public Notice In the Matter of the Accessibility of Communications Technologies for the 2020 Biennial Report Required by the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act [CG Docket No. 10-213]. Overall, the comments indicated the industry's growth in the accessibility and affordability of advanced communications technologies, as evidenced by the increasing presence and richness of new accessibility features on Lifeline-provided mobile devices. However, some access gaps remain, particularly regarding new communications technologies.

This issue also includes news about video relay service, I-Connect Plus, Autism Spectrum Disorder, the Tech Access Initiative, Text-to-911, Smart Home Tech, and more.


The contents of this website were developed under a grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR grant number 90RE5025-01-00). NIDILRR is a Center within the Administration for Community Living (ACL), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The contents of this website do not necessarily represent the policy of NIDILRR, ACL, HHS, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.