Technology and Disability Policy Highlights: May 2016

Date of Publication: 
2016 June

In May, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) continued efforts to implement the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA). The FCC released and Order [10-210] extending the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program (NDBEDP) until June 30, 2017. NDBEDP, established by the CVAA in 2010 and implemented by the FCC in 2012, is currently a pilot program that provides up to $10 million annually to support organizations that distribute communications equipment to low-income individuals who are deaf-blind. The FCC is working on a rulemaking that recommends that the program becomes permanent. In other efforts to ensure communications access for people with vision disabilities, the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking [16-37] to expand video described programming to people that are blind or have low vision was published in the Federal Register establishing deadlines of June 27, 2016, for comments and July 26, 2016, for reply comments.  The proposed rules would allow people who are blind or have visual impairments to fully enjoy popular television shows. Finally, The FCC’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau (CGB) released a Public Notice [10-213], seeking public input on the level of accessibility of communications technologies covered by the CVAA. The report, among other things, will contain evaluations of industry compliance with the CVAA, persistent barriers to access to new current and new technologies, and the impact of the requirements of the CVAA on technology development and deployment.

In Wireless RERC news, The Envisioning Inclusive FUTURES Summit Proceedings have been published on the Wireless RERC website. The Summit focused on 1) key social, economic, political and technological forces at play in the migration from legacy, analog technologies to mobile, digital technologies, and 2) the consequential futures for people with disabilities. Transformative ideas and common visionary themes addressed wireless technologies and systems that could stimulate inclusive solutions such as robotics, wearables, the Internet of Things, next-generation emergency communications and alerts, and assistive intelligence for auditory and visual navigation. Looking to an inclusive future, not only were research and policy agenda items identified, but also challenges and recommendations on how to reach a future of inclusiveness.


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