In June, The Federal Communications Commission announced the six winners and three honorable mentions of their Fifth Annual Awards for Advancement in Accessibility, also known as, the Chairman’s AAA. The awards are meant to recognize and honor innovative achievements in communications technology benefiting people with disabilities. This year, the awards were presented at the M-Enabling Summit at the Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel in Arlington, Virginia. Among the winners were an emergency support app for people with cognitive disabilities, a gesture control technology for smartphones, a wearable sign language recognition system, and a wearable system to help people with low vision. For people with vision loss, specifically for those that are deaf-blind, the FCC extended the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program (NDBEDP) until June 30, 2017. The NDBEDP provides up to $10 million annually to support organizations that distribute communications equipment to low-income individuals who are deaf-blind.
In Wireless RERC news, we submitted comments to the FCC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) In the Matter of Amendment of Part 11 of the Commission’s Rules Regarding the Emergency Alert System [15-94]; Wireless Emergency Alerts [PS Docket No. 15-91]. The recommendations made are intended to facilitate the maturation and modernization of both systems, empowering all to make informed choices that result in maximizing message diffusion and ensuring the same timely and effective access to alerts and warnings for people with disabilities. We also submitted comments to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration's (NTIA) inquiry: “Notice, Request for Public Comment, The Benefits, Challenges, and Potential Roles for the Government in Fostering the Advancement of the Internet of Things [IoT] [Docket No. 160331306–6306–01]. Our comments addressed, among other things, IoT’s potential to advance the social inclusion and independent living of people with disabilities; and improve the dissemination of emergency information.