April 2014 Technology and Disability Policy Highlights

Date of Publication: 
2014 April

In April, the Department of Justice reached a 10-year settlement agreement with the State of Rhode Island following investigations into the state’s day-activity service system for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Under the settlement, Rhode Island has agreed to redirect State funding to more integrated services to ensure individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities are afforded better employment and employment transition services.  Federal contractors have filed a class action suit against the Government Services Administration (GSA) regarding the accessibility of the System for Award Management website, www.SAM.gov, run by GSA. The case alleges that SAM.gov is not accessible for individuals who are blind or have low vision and does not adequately train helpdesk staff to assist blind or low vision individuals.  Robyn Powell, Attorney Advisor for the National Council on Disability (NCD), also testified before the Massachusetts legislature addressing the history of discrimination towards parents with disabilities and the rights of parents when pursuing assistance through the Child Welfare System and the family court system.

In regulatory news, The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced April 16, 2014 as the effective date for final rules governing delivery of accessible emergency information in video programming and the accessibility of associated equipment and apparatus.  They also issued final rules in accordance with Section 713 of the Communications Act to enhance the quality of closed captioning.  The rules, which require that captions are accurate and synchronous in portraying the spoken words and background noises, are present for the whole program and are placed in such a way that they do not block important visual content, become effective January 15, 2015.  Additionally, the FCC took immediate action to halt misuse of IP Relay services by eliminating the 911 exception, due to repeated fraudulent use that resulted in the unnecessary dispatch of first responders


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