Technology and Disability Policy Highlights - July 2018

Date of Publication: 
2018 August

July marked the 28th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Government agencies, advocacy organizations, academia, industry, and people with disabilities around the nation honored the day with activities, speeches, and educational materials detailing the gains made in the past 28 years; the current state of access, equity and inclusion; and the path ahead. For example, Autism Speaks highlighted their legislative activities that align with ADA provisions, and extend to areas such as the economic empowerment of people with disabilities. Aira, the company that launched a smartglasses navigation and object identification service for the blind or low vision population, discussed several areas that need improving in order to actualize the spirit and intentions of the ADA, including internet access, transportation access, educational and career access, and access to visual information.

In the regulatory space, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced its approval of FEMA’s request for a limited waiver of Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) rules which would allow them to conduct the first nationwide test of WEA on September 20, 2018. Comcast-NBCU requested a “presumptive waiver” or safer harbor for cable companies to allow for reruns of television shows during non-prime time hours be included in the accounting of the number of hours of video-described programming compliance. For example, television series marathons such as Mr. Robot and Queen of the South that air during non-prime time hours. NBCU asserts that this would allow for as much as 1,000 hours of video-described content per quarter to be counted towards compliance.

In Wireless RERC news, the Summary Report for the Using Technology R&D to Effect Policy Change Leadership Workshop was disseminated with a call for public input on the small group discussion takeaways regarding data sources, disability access policy priorities, and engaging stakeholders. We invite you to review the takeaways and submit concurring or opposing arguments. If you so choose, please send your comments to Salimah LaForce ( by August 24, 2018.

This issue also includes news about false Alerts, public awareness, and system testing for EAS and WEA; Driving New Modes of IoT-Facilitated Citizen/User Engagement; TechCheck, a quick accessibility assessment for employers; an eye-tracking headset for environmental control; 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.