Technology and Disability Policy Highlights - September 2019

In September, National Preparedness Month was celebrated, and many took the opportunity to inform citizens of the importance of being prepared in the event of a local or national emergency. For example, ReadyDC’s campaign objective was to provide information that was both accessible and readily available. Their website contains information and resources on how to create emergency kits, communications plans, and how to remain informed about various types of emergencies. Also, the site has preparedness information that is specific to the needs of people with disabilities. For example, persons with a speech disability are advised to plan how they will communicate with others if their assistive technology equipment is not working or not with them. The page also addresses preparedness for persons with vision disabilities, mobility disabilities, persons who need behavior support, and for those who have service animals.

In Wireless RERC news, we submitted reply comments to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Improving Video Relay Service and Direct Video Calling [CG Docket No. s 10-51 and 03-123]. The Wireless RERC supported stakeholders’ opposition to requiring a log-in for users of enterprise and public videophones. As asserted by the Consumer Groups, such a requirement runs counter to functional equivalency as defined by multiple pieces of legislation. While the VRS filing focused on technology access in public spaces, another effort was dedicated to improving access to smart home technology in our release of a video tutorial series for independent set-up of the Amazon Echo:

Part 1 - Out of the Box and Onto the Table-A Step-By-Step Guide to Unboxing and Powering On your Amazon Echo for People with Vision Disabilities.

Part 2 - Buttons at 12, 3, 6, and 9 O’clock-A Tutorial on the Location and Operation of Buttons on the Amazon Echo for People with Vision Disabilities.

Part 3 - Part 3: Synching your Echo to the Alexa App-A Tutorial on how to Set Up your Echo for People with Vision Disabilities.

This issue also includes news about 5G, spectrum reallocation, a novel brain-computer interface, smart cities, AI, a smart cane, Comcast, and more.

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