Technology and Disability Policy Highlights - March 2019

Date of Publication: 
2019 April

March saw the reintroduction of The Internet of Things (IOT) Cybersecurity Improvement Act of 2019 bill, with an aim to improve security for IoT devices bought by government agencies. This Act has implications for the devices used by people with disabilities, and its legislative approach is similar to that used to bolster compliance with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. That is, for technology companies to sell to the government, they must abide by certain security standards and regulations. In an effort to make diversity the standard, as opposed to the exception, the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce of the Committee on Energy and Commerce held a hearing entitled “Inclusion in Tech: How Diversity Benefits All Americans.” This hearing discussed the link between workplace diversity and innovation and included testimony from Jill Houghton, President and CEO of Disability: IN, who asserted that diversity must include disability. Contending that disability inclusion is a driver of business performance and technology innovation.

In the regulatory space, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to broaden the frequency ranges from 95 GHz to 3 THz for possible use with wireless communications as a 6G network. Ted Rappaport, the founder of NYU Wireless, provided five use cases for THz, including sensing for air quality detection, personal health monitoring, gesture detection, and touchless smartphones, explosive detection and gas sensing. The sensing use case also has implications for improving the accessibility of smart devices, and personal health monitoring could have a positive impact on the health and function of people with disabilities.

In Wireless RERC news, the team is preparing for our April 25, 2019 Leadership Luncheon, Contexts of Connectivity, where we will engage in a discussion on how smart spaces can support the independent living of people with disabilities. If you’re in the Atlanta area, we invite you to join us. Please see the details inside the newsletter (page 6) or follow the link above.

This issue also includes news about rural broadband, The State of Digital Accessibility 2019, Microsoft’s Accessibility Checker, a “Robot’s eye view,” assistive technology for educational access, 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.