Technology and Disability Policy Highlights - June 2018

In June, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced the winners of its 2018 Chairman's Awards for Advancement in Accessibility (Chairman's AAA). The Chairman's AAA is part of an FCC program that seeks to identify "innovative developments that improve the experience of people with disabilities in telecommunications and technology." Winners for 2018 were recognized at an awards ceremony held in conjunction with the M-Enabling Summit in Arlington, Virginia. The FCC also released a proceeding In the Matter of Misuse of Internet Protocol (IP) Captioned Telephone Service [CG Docket No. 13-24]; Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech Disabilities [CG Docket No. 03-123]. In the R&O and Declaratory Ruling sections, the FCC adopted rates for Internet Protocol captioned telephone service (IP CTS) that stand to save an estimated $399 million in just two years. They also adopted rules that allow for the use of automated speech-to-text technologies for the provision of captions on IP CTS.

In Wireless RERC news, we submitted reply comments to the FCC in response to their 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]. The Wireless RERC submission stated general agreement with comments that supported the inclusion of multimedia content in WEA messages. Despite sometimes having different rationales, many commenters indicated the importance of multimedia message content in motivating people to take appropriate protective actions, and/or advancing accessibility of WEAs to people with disabilities.

This issue also includes news about WCAG 2.1 guidelines, accessible public transportation, the SpeakSee app for people with hearing disabilities, improvement in 911 location accuracy, smartwatch integration with campus services, and more.

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