Technology and Disability Policy Highlights - April 2018

In April, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Public Notice inviting stakeholder input to Refresh the Record on Facilitating Multimedia Content in Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) [PS Docket Nos. 15-91 and 15-94] was published in the Federal Register, setting the comment and reply comment deadlines as May 29, 2018, and June 11, 2018, respectively. Keeping a laser-like focus on emergency communications, the FCC also released their final report of the 2017 Nationwide Test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS).  On the EAS participant side (television and radio broadcasters) of the continuum, the test was considered successful as the equipment and software worked to deliver the test message across the nation. However, on the public end of the continuum, some accessibility issues were reported including poor audio quality, instances where the text crawl was overlapped with other captioning or text on the screen, or its speed made it unreadable, among others. The purpose of the test was to identify areas for improvement, and the FCC report outlines measures that will be taken to advance the accessibility of EAS messages.

In Wireless RERC news, on April 24, 2018, we hosted academics, practitioners, and service organizations at the Using Technology R&D to Effect Policy Change Leadership Workshop. The morning panel, moderated by Dr. Helena Mitchell, addressed the importance of stakeholder engagement in policymaking, and attendees heard the perspectives of Robert Knotts, Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), Office of Government and Community Relations; Donna Platt, North Carolina Division of Services for Deaf and Hard of Hearing; and Hamish Caldwell, Wireless Insiders Network. In the afternoon, the attendees had three small group discussions and were tasked with distilling each discussion into three takeaways to share with the whole group. Inside the newsletter, you can read a teaser of the nine takeaways. A more comprehensive report detailing the small group discussions that led to the above takeaways will be produced this summer.

Recruitment for the Survey of User Needs is ongoing. To inform the inclusive development of wireless technologies and services, we are collecting data on people with disabilities’ user experiences and expectations. Take the survey online at http://bit.ly/2018UserNeedsSurvey.

This issue also includes news about a tool for accessible travel, a hands-free drumming machine, a silent user interface that understands nonverbal prompts, and more.

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