July 2, 2012 –The Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau of the Federal Communications Commission launched the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program on July 1, 2012. The goal of the program is to ensure that individuals who are deaf-blind will receive the specialized customer premises equipment needed to effectively access telecommunications services, Internet services, and advanced communications services. Specialized customer premises equipment is defined by Congress as “equipment employed on the premises of a person (other than a carrier) to originate, route or terminate telecommunications.” It may include mainstream, off the shelf equipment and/or assistive technology.
As part of the Commission’s implementation the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA), a total of $10 million, via the Telecommunications Relay Service Fund, has been made available annually for the program. Fifty-three organizations have been selected to become authorized equipment distributors. Once all organizations complete the certification process, all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands will be running the pilot program. In order to ensure the success of the program, a holistic approach has been adopted, allowing program funds to be used for the distribution of equipment, as well as equipment installation and maintenance, individual assessments, individual training, and local outreach. [Source: Federal Communications Commission]
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The Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center for Wireless Technologies is sponsored by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) of the U.S. Department of Education under grant number H133E110002. The opinions contained in this website are those of the Wireless RERC and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Education or NIDRR.