Wireless RERC Comments on the Accessibility of the Nationwide EAS Test

Date of Publication: 
2013 October

October 2013 — The Wireless RERC filed comments in response to a Public Notice [EB Docket No. 04-296] issued by The Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (the Bureau) of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regarding issues identified during the first nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) on November 9, 2011. The comments filed by the Wireless RERC specifically responded to the Bureau’s request for comment on how the FCC can address the accessibility of visual text crawls accompanying EAS alerts. Wireless RERC comments draw from findings from a series of focus groups and surveys performed before, during and after the nationwide EAS test.  Overall findings from the focus groups and surveys indicate that during the nationwide EAS test, people with disabilities faced many accessibility issues, which included seeing the visual crawl.  Based on these findings, the Wireless RERC recommended that EAS messages have a standardized appearance containing both audio and visual content to enhance accessibility, while also providing slower text crawls in a larger size and improving the quality of all audio contained in the alerts. The Wireless RERC also recommends that the FCC not only revise its rules to include text crawl specifications for all EAS messages, but also include people with disabilities in the research and development process to determine these specifications.

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