With the pressing concerns of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), this issue covers many of the ways in which COVID-19 impacts the disability community. A departure from only reporting on wireless technology access activities, we include a range of COVID-19 resources and initiatives for people with disabilities. For example, the select provisions of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act are outlined, focusing on funds directed towards ensuring services for people with disabilities continue. Also, the Administration for Community Living (ACL) has created a web page dedicated to providing COVID-19 information and resources for people with disabilities and older adults. In light of the massive migration to remote work, the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Technology Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center published accessibility tips for a better Zoom/virtual meeting experience.
In the regulatory space, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has waived Lifeline Program rules to help low-income consumers stay connected during COVID-19. Further, the FCC’s Keep Americans Connected Initiative is working to ensure that Americans, regardless of socioeconomic status or disability status, can comply with social distancing measures through the use of affordable communications. The Commission also relaxed regulations so that relay service providers can preserve communications access for people with hearing disabilities. In a move to ensure public engagement, the filing deadline for stakeholders to inform the 2020 Biennial Report on the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act [CG Docket No. 10-213] was extended to April 15, 2020.
The Wireless RERC has postponed our 2020 State of Technology Forum. However, the important work of the Wireless RERC continues, and we turn our focus to producing a more robust Assistive Technology Journal Special Issue. We are currently accepting paper abstracts. Read the full call for papers for details and deadlines. The Wireless RERC also continues data collection for our 2020 Survey of User Needs. If you haven't already, please consider taking this survey.
This issue also includes news about hearing aid compatibility, inclusive medical care, educational access, broadband, the 2020 Census, disability inclusion, accessible transit, apps, AI, and more.