Presentations Technology and Disability Highlights - November 2017

Date of Publication: 
2018 January
In the wake of a record-breaking hurricane season and the California wildfires, the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system received public scrutiny and concern as to why it was not uniformly used to deliver emergency messages. One challenge of using WEA was its current limitation on the granular targeting of alerts, which according to one Harris County Official is why his local government did not use the system during Hurricane Harvey, "because it does not want to potentially alert the entire county when a WEA message may only pertain to a certain portion of the county.” The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) addressed this concern in the Enhanced WEA rulemaking, that, among other things, mandated more precise geo-targeting. In a recent Order on Reconsideration in the Matter of Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) [PS Docket No. 15-91], the FCC denied CTIA’s (wireless industry association) and the Competitive Carriers Association's (CCA) separate petitions to defer compliance deadlines for embedded references (i.e., URLs) and the more granular geo-targeting requirement. Regarding the latter, the Order stated that “we find no basis for granting relief.” Therefore, the “best approximates” geo-targeting compliance deadline remained November 1, 2017, for all participating providers. In efforts to maintain regional carriers’ voluntary participation in WEA, the Order did grant relief from embedded resources compliance deadline to all carriers except for except for AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint and U.S. Cellular.
In Wireless RERC News, we are continuing data collection on our latest Survey of User Needs (SUN). If you have not taken it yet, please do.  The SUN is the Wireless RERC's cornerstone survey on wireless technology use by people with disabilities. User responses will help designers and engineers make new wireless devices and services that are accessible to and usable by people with a variety of disabilities. Data from the SUN also provides important information to the wireless industry, government regulators, and other researchers to help them make wireless technologies and services more accessible and useful. Please Take the Survey and Share the Survey so we can continue to provide evidence-based policy and technology recommendations. 
This issue also includes news about universal design, virtual reality, wearables, accessible gaming, exoskeletons and more.


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