In March, legislative activities saw the introduction of two bills ADA Lawsuit Clarification Act of 2017 [H.R. 1493] in California and the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017 [H.R.620] in Texas. These bills propose that the complainant engages in negotiation and remediation prior to filing a private civil suit. The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) and Coalition Partners oppose H.R. 620, stating that it “would create significant obstacles for people with disabilities to enforce their rights under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to access public accommodations, and would impede their ability to engage in daily activities and participate in the mainstream of society. Rather, the burden of protecting the right to access a public place is shifted to the person with the disability, who first has to be denied access...”
In the regulatory arena, Honda received an extension from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Media Bureau to comply and implement accessible in-vehicle rear entertainment systems. This is one of many issues the FCC is addressing to move the U.S. forward with innovation and inclusive technology. In FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai’s address at Carnegie Mellon, Bringing the Benefits of the Digital Age to All Americans, Chairman Pai outlined his priorities and specific proposals that the FCC will pursue are aimed at closing the digital divide and bringing access to Internet-based technologies to all Americans.
In Wireless RERC news, March was a busy month for presenting and policy input. Presentations from the 2017 CSUN AT Conference have been published online: [PDF] Smartphone Use and Activities by People with Disabilities: 2015-2016 Survey; [PDF] Wireless RERC Policy Retrospective: Strategies to Effect Policy Change. In continued efforts to inform policy, the Wireless RERC submitted reply comments to the FCC In the Matter of the Transition from TTY to Real-Time Text [RTT] Technology [CG Docket No. 16-145]. Comments supported transitioning from TTY to RTT technology and concurred with other stakeholder recommendations that the manner and speed in which it is done take into account those most at risk of losing all text communications access if TTY becomes unavailable. Also submitted were comments in response to the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research’s (NIDILRR) request for input concerning their Draft Long Range Plan, 2018-2023. Additionally, comments were submitted to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Request for Comments on the Benefits, Challenges, and Potential Roles for the Government in Fostering the Advancement of the Internet of Things [IOT], strongly recommending that NTIA specifically articulate policy recommendations that support early stage inclusion of people with disabilities to further accessibility and usability of IoT technology and services before development and deployment of the same.
This issue also includes news about inclusive computing, accessible online educational materials, awards for digital inclusion and broadband adoption, and more.