Technology and Disability Policy Highlights: August - September 2016

Date of Publication: 
2016 October

In September the White House hosted the Designing for All Showcase, a celebration that recognized the work and expertise of companies, designers, and engineers making strides in inclusive design, assistive technology, and prosthetics. At the event, many new technologies were announced, as well as government programs facilitating the inclusion of people with disabilities to engage in all aspects of society including school, employment, and recreation. 

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) has also been busy with efforts to improve technology and programmatic access. In August, the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau (CGB) issued a Public Notice [CG Docket No. 10-213] seeking comment on the accessibility of communications technology for the 2016 Biennial Report. The report, detailing the impact of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010, will address accessibility barriers to new communications technologies, effects of accessibility recordkeeping and enforcement requirements, and procedural matters. Turning the lens on themselves, the CGB commenced a review of Commission policies and practices in relation to their compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. They sought public input on their programmatic access and updates to the Section 504 Handbook. Other major FCC decisions included new rules enhancing Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs), additional Emergency Alert System (EAS) codes, revised hearing aid compatibility (HAC) rules to ensure that people with hearing loss have quality access to wireless devices/services, and the “iCanConnect” Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program (NDBEDP), formerly a pilot, is now permanent.

In Wireless RERC news, Principal Investigator, Helena Mitchell, and, researcher, Young Mi Choi, were honored by Georgia Tech’s Office of Institute Diversity and featured in the Faces of Inclusive Excellence Video.  Researchers were also busy with outreach efforts, speaking at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine workshop on “The Future of Emergency Alert and Warning Systems: Research Directions,” CTIA’s Accessibility Outreach Initiative Forum at Super Mobility Week, and the Integrated Public Alerts and Warning System (IPAWS), Office of Disability Integration and Coordination (ODIC) annual Roundtable.


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