July marked the 31st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). As large gatherings are still approached with great trepidation, many advocates and members of the disability community celebrated virtually. President Biden, a co-sponsor of landmark legislation, released a Proclamation affirming the rights and protections of people with disabilities. Including equitable access to opportunities to increase economic self-sufficiency, independent living, and social inclusion. The National Council on Disability stated in a press release, “As a community, we are far better off today because of those civil rights protections than we were 31 years ago. We do, however, have a considerable amount of work to do to fully realize that promise.”
In regulatory news, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released statements about two new programs related to digital equity. The Emergency Connectivity Fund Program provides schools and libraries with grant funding to ensure students and economically vulnerable populations remain connected with digital devices. The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program has provided over four million households with discount vouchers to make internet connectivity affordable. Also, in an effort to addressed affordable communications, in a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking [CG Docket No. 12-375], the FCC is requesting public input on the functionally equivalent access and affordability of telecommunications for incarcerated persons with disabilities.
In Wireless RERC news, we submitted comments related to two matters: NTIA Draft Internet Use Survey and a Review of the CVAA. Both are summarized on pages 7-9 in the newsletter. We are also collecting data on several surveys. The wireless RERC’s first responder network project wants your input. We want to understand the experiences of people with disabilities when they interact with first responders (Take the Survey). We are also interested in first responders' interactions with people with disabilities (Take the First Responder Survey). Finally, Wireless RERC researcher, LaForce, wants to understand which communities are being served by the Atlanta BeltLine and how the BeltLine can be used as a pedestrian evacuation route preceding or in the wake of a disaster event (Take the Atlanta BeltLine Survey).
This issue also includes news about the nationwide test of WEA, adapted toys, AAC, eye-tracking tech, accessibility awareness, accessiBe, disability representation, and more.