April 2012 Technology and Disability Policy Highlights

Date of Publication: 
2013 April

This month, the TDPH highlights recent legislative actions concerning emergency communications. The Next Generation 9-1-1 Advancement Act of 2012 [P.L. 112-96] was recently signed into law in order to establish a 9-1-1 Implementation Coordination Office responsible for the coordination of 9-1-1 services as well as the facilitation of grant programs for state, local and tribal entities providing these services. In addition, The House Homeland Security Committee recently passed The Integrated Public Alert and Public Warning System Modernization Act of 2011 [H.R. 3563] to establish common alerting protocols and operating procedures for warning systems. The Act stresses the accessibility of alerts by calling for the alert content to adapt to users’ needs, especially for people with disabilities, and for the dissemination of alerts to be subject to a users’ geographic location and personal preferences.

Regarding regulation, the FCC issued a Third Report and Order (R&O) “In the Matter of Amendment of the Commission’s Rules Governing Hearing Aid-Compatible Mobile Handsets” [WT Docket No. 07-250] revising the Commission’s rules on hearing aid compatibility (HAC) technical standards to include the 2011 ANSI standards for HAC. Enforcing HAC compliance, the FCC issued a Notice of Apparent Liability For Forfeiture proposing a penalty of $819,000 against T-Mobile for violating the FCC’s rules for HAC mobile handsets [47 CFR §20.19 (c)(2)(d)(2)].  In addition, the FCC issued an Order on Reconsideration “In the Matter of Amendment of the Review of the Emergency Alert System” [EB Docket No. 04-296] revising the rules to allow the use of text-to-speech (TTS) by Emergency Alert System (EAS) participants. Lastly, The FCC’s Video Programming Accessibility Advisory Committee (VPAAC) issued a Report concerning Video Description and the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010. The report makes recommendations concerning the delivery and use of video description by program distributors, and the FCC is seeking comment on the report.

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