Technology and Disability Policy Highlights: July 2017

Date of Publication: 
2017 August
July 26, 2017, marked the 27th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law. The ADA codified civil rights protections for people with disabilities, prohibiting discrimination that hinders access to programs and services within and outside of the government. In recognition of the 27th anniversary of the ADA, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) released information on how they are guiding policy and enforcing laws to advance a more inclusive society for people who experience a disability. The FCC’s Acting Chief of the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, Patrick Webre, published a blog post, Celebrating the 27th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, explaining the FCC’s role in complying with the ADA and outlining FCC initiatives that advance information and communications access by people with disabilities. Earlier in the month, the FCC announced new video description regulations, increasing the hours of described video content from 50 to 87.5 hours per year. Video description provides people with a visual impairment access to onscreen actions and other nonverbal content that is visual and provides meaningful detail. The new rules will take effect on July 1, 2018.
In Wireless RERC News, principal investigator, Dr. Helena Mitchell, was interviewed for the IBM thinkLeaders Blog, Innovating for people with disabilities: Why companies should invest in universal design.  The article discusses many pathways to inclusion, including the Internet of Things, incorporating universal design principles into all mainstream devices, and advancing assistive technologies. In efforts to advance accessible emergency communications, Frank Lucia will serve as the Wireless RERC representative on FEMA’s National Advisory Council (NAC), Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) Subcommittee. Over the two-year term of the NAC IPAWS Subcommittee, the members will generate recommendations to enhance the delivery of emergency messages in the event of a natural or human-made disaster. Wireless devices are fast becoming the most common way in which people receive emergency information. To facilitate access to these messages, the Wireless RERC’s YouTube channel was recently updated with new How To videos on customizing Wireless Emergency Alerts and other accessibility features on Android devices. Links are included below:
  • How to customize the Wireless Emergency Alert Settings (Android)
  • How To Turn on The Pulsing Light Feature (Android)
  • How To Turn on TalkBack, Android's Screen Reader
  • How To Turn on Magnification Gestures (Android)
  • How to turn on Captioning (Android)
This issue also includes news about Net Neutrality, the App Factory, wearables, assistive technology, design awareness, mixed-reality, artificial intelligence 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.