Technology and Disability Policy Highlights - May 2018

In May, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted several waivers related to emergency communications. In a Memorandum Opinion and Order [12-107], the FCC’s Media Bureau granted requests for waivers of the audible crawl rule, permanently exempting analog-only cable systems, and temporarily waiving requirements for television broadcasters to audibly describe visual, non-textual emergency information. The FCC also granted a limited waiver of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) protocol to allow for an end-to-end test to be conducted in the State of Minnesota on June 18, 2018. The waiver was required because the rules allowing for end-to-end testing of WEA are not effective until May 2019. However, Minnesota emergency communications officials want to move up that timeline and requested temporary waiver in light of the recent large-scale emergencies.

 

In Wireless RERC news, comments were submitted to the FCC in response to a Public Notice In the Matter of The Accessibility of Communications Technologies for the 2018 Biennial Report Required by the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act [CG Docket No. 10-213]. In anticipation of this Public Notice, we conducted a 2017 Mobile Phone Accessibility Review, preliminary results of which were reported in the submission. Additionally, the comments were informed by recently conducted focus groups on the use of “new communications technologies” by people with disabilities. The comments highlighted a perennial barrier to full access, device setup, which quite literally allows the user to gain entry to the device. This initial process needs addressing to move the needle forward on people with disabilities’ independently accessing advanced communications technologies and services. 

 

This issue also includes news about a smart cane, National Disability Employment Awareness Month, Global Accessibility Awareness Day activities, a Mobile Accommodations Solution app, the BeMyEyes app, and more.

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