Technology and Disability Policy Highlights: January 2017

Date of Publication: 
2017 March
In January, the U.S. Access Board published revised guidelines and standards pertaining to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Section 255 of the Communications Act of 1934. They cover Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines for buses and vans, medical diagnostic equipment (MDE), and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Standards and Guidelines (ICT-Refresh). ICT-Refresh standards are effective March 20, 2017, and January 18, 2018, is the compliance deadline. The Federal Communications Commission FCC) also set the effective date (February 22, 2017) for the Final Rule concerning the transition from legacy text telephone communications (TTY) to Real-Time Text (RTT). In other efforts to push the needle forward on communications access, the FCC announced the second term of the Disability Advisory Committee and published the list of 2017-2019 committee members, of which is our very own Dr. Helena Mitchell, Wireless RERC Principal Investigator. They will continue the mission “…to make recommendations to the Commission on its full range of disability access issues and to suggest ways to facilitate the participation of consumers with disabilities in proceedings before the Commission.” Speaking of which, Wireless RERC researcher, Salimah LaForce, will be presenting on how to identify and develop policy assessments or appropriate policy responses to federal rulemakings at the 2017 CSUN Assistive Technologies Conference. The presentation, among other things, discusses using empirical evidence to support policy recommendations. To that end, Wireless RERC researcher, Dr. John Morris, will also present an analysis of the Survey of User Needs, concentrating on the impact of demographic variables and disability type on smartphone use by adults with physical, sensory and cognitive disabilities.
Finally, in case you missed the announcement last month, changes were made to the Wireless RERC’s newsletters, the Technology and Disability Policy Highlights (TDPH) and Re: Wireless. The TDPH will continue as a monthly release with content curated for a policy, industry, and research audience, while Re: Wireless published bimonthly with a focus on Wireless RERC news for consumers. As we re-sort our mailing lists to represent these new focuses, you may receive both newsletters, or you may be receiving the TDPH for the first time. We welcome you as a reader and hope you enjoy the newsletter! Should you wish to unsubscribe from the TDPH, send an email to  If you are not currently a Re: Wireless reader and you would like to receive consumer-focused updates, you can sign-up using the following link: or text WIRELESSRERC to 22828. 
This issue also includes news about the FCC’s plan to promote digital inclusion, self-driving cars, a Makeathon to prototype accessibility solutions, and more. 


The contents of this website were developed under a grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR grant number 90RE5025-01-00). NIDILRR is a Center within the Administration for Community Living (ACL), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The contents of this website do not necessarily represent the policy of NIDILRR, ACL, HHS, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.