Technology and Disability Policy Highlights - November 2018

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a Public Notice announcing their call for nominations for the eighth annual Chairman’s Awards for Advancement in Accessibility (Chairman's AAA). Nominations are due by February 28, 2019, and can be made for various categories including accessible mainstream technologies, assistive technologies, technology standards, and best practices in delivering accessible solutions. Congruent with identifying best practices, but in the emergency communications domain, the FCC authorized a reexamination of the Wireless Resiliency Cooperative Framework which was created to ensure sustainable wireless communications during disasters. The comprehensive review sought to determine how the participating wireless companies utilized the framework during disaster events and implementation best practices.

To further ensure that FCC rules regarding hearing aid-compatible (HAC) mobile phones have the intended effect of improving communications access, the FCC adopted a Report and Order (R&O) In the Matter of Revisions to Reporting Requirements Governing Hearing Aid-Compatible Mobile Handsets [WT Docket No. 17-228]. The revised rules require that (1) each service provider offer its buyers a variety of HAC devices with differing levels of functionality, (2) manufacturers provide a publicly accessible online listing of all HAC models offered, the rating of these devices, and an explanation of the rating system. Prior comments of the Wireless RERC submitted to the FCC support the changes made in the R&O. For example, the Wireless RERC has long asserted that for people who use hearing aids, when purchasing a handset there are other mainstream and accessibility features to consider in conjunction with HAC compliance. One should not have to sacrifice phone features to ensure they are purchasing a HAC compliant phone.

In Wireless RERC news, project director, Maureen Linden traveled to Seoul, South Korea from November 5 – 11, 2018. Ms. Linden’s invited lecture at South Korea’s National Rehabilitation Center summarized her research in accessible education and inclusive wireless emergency communications. And speaking of research, if you have not already taken the Survey of User Needs, what are you waiting for? Sharing is caring. Please submit your experiences with and expectations of wireless devices and services, and ask others to do the same. Scan the QR Code to open the survey on your mobile device.

This issue also includes news about accessible gaming, transportation access, smart cities, an inclusive voting platform, aging with a disability, and more.

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