Technology and Disability Policy Highlights - July 2019


July 2019 marked the 29th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). Local celebrations were held around the United States, and national access and inclusion initiatives were highlighted, as well. For example, at the local level, to kick off the 29th Anniversary of the ADA, Rapid City, South Dakota an official proclamation for the city was signed to recognize July 26th as ADA Awareness Day, emphasizing inclusion. At the national level, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) demonstrated inclusivity by releasing their We Prepare Everyday video with both captions and a certified Deaf interpreter.

In regulatory news, on Wednesday, August 7th, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and FEMA will conduct a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS). In a Public Notice [15-94], the FCC reminded EAS test participants of their obligation to ensure that the test message is accessible to people with vision and hearing disabilities. This upcoming test differs from the test conducted last September in that it will not include Wireless Emergency Alert messages. The purpose of this test is to assess alerting capabilities in the absence of internet connectivity.

In Wireless RERC news, Wireless RERC project director (PD), Salimah LaForce, and DeeDee Bennett, former Wireless RERC PD and currently, assistant professor at the University at Albany, The State University of New York co-authored Text-to-Action: Understanding the Interaction Between Accessibility of Wireless Emergency Alerts and Behavioral Response. The chapter describes accessibility considerations across the warning process; receiving, factors that impact understanding, and responding (i.e., the decision to take protective action) to alerts and warnings. Among the studies summarized in the chapter are those that were supported by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDLRR). Wireless RERC partner Tools for Life, in collaboration with LeadingAge Georgia, will convene the annual Tech and Aging Summit on August 20th. Attendees will hear presentations on the role of technology in enhancing the health and wellness of older adults.

This issue also includes news about digital inclusion, RAZ Mobility, small cell technology, assistive technology for people with learning disabilities, Tech4Good, public transit, and more.