Technology and Disability Policy Highlights – January 2021

Date of Publication: 
2021 February

The Wireless RERC conducted our annual content review of the Technology and Disability Policy Highlights newsletter. The top five most cited words were accessibility, assistive, COVID, broadband, and public. This past year’s hot topics mostly centered around expanding access to broadband amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This year we also celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Not long after, 2020 saw movement to codify inclusive access to virtual environments with an ADA amendment, the Online Accessibility Act [H.R. 8478], introduced to Congress on October 1st. The Act aims to provide a “predictable regulatory environment” for online commerce to ensure equitable access for all customers. Though COVID-19 resulted in many companies and researchers redirecting their attention to creating contact-tracing and social distancing monitoring methods, and accessible smart masks to combat the pandemic, innovation persisted in non-COVID related accessible wireless technologies; a testament to the tenacity of the mobile access and inclusion movement.

To that end, the Wireless RERC is currently seeking research participants with sensory disabilities from the Metro Atlanta area to participate in a study investigating the accessibility of various emergency alerting signals (audible, visual, tactile, and a combination of these) under everyday conditions and in their environments. If you are interested in participating, please email

Finally, the Wireless RERC will convene its State of Technology Forum Tuesday, March 23rd, from 8:50 am to 1:00 pm through Wednesday, March 24th, from 9:15 am to 12:00 pm. The Forum will examine the evolving nature and capacities of wireless technologies and identify opportunities to meet a range of community needs for access, equity, and inclusion. To maintain a roundtable-feel, the event is invite-only, and there is limited space. If you would like to be added to the outreach list, please email

This issue also includes news about broadband mapping, accessible COVID-19 resources, smart devices, wearables, augmented reality, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, WCAG 3.0, 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.