Technology and Disability Policy Highlights - June 2019


In June, U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Susan Collins (R-ME), and U.S. Representatives Jim Langevin (D-RI-2) and Chris Smith (R-NJ-4) introduced the Real Emergency Access for Aging and Disability Inclusion (REAADI) for Disasters Act [S. 1755 and HR. 3208] in the Senate and House, respectively. Extensive support for the legislation came from, among others, the collaboration of twenty-eight associations, the American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR), who composed letters to the House and Senate in support of the REAADI for Disasters Act. Cited heavily in the supporter’s arguments for the legislation was a May 2019 Government Accountability Office report (GAO), DISASTER ASSISTANCE: FEMA Action Needed to Better Support Individuals Who Are Older or Have Disabilities. The GAO report found that “A range of officials from entities that partner with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)—including states, territories, localities, and nonprofits)—reported challenges providing assistance to individuals who are older or have disabilities following the 2017 hurricanes.” If signed into law, REAADI would establish a National Commission on Disability Rights and Disasters to study the needs of individuals with disabilities, create a network of centers focused on training and technical assistance, direct the Department of Justice to review the spending of disaster funds, and create a grant program for increased inclusion strategies with people with disabilities.

In Wireless RERC news, two of our projects produced outputs related to building capacity in accessible design. Amelia (Amy) Lambeth, a research associate at the Interactive Media Technology Center (IMTC) at Georgia Tech, under advisement by Dr. Maribeth Gandy Coleman, completed an M.S. Human-Computer Interaction project. The project title is A Social Acceptability and Assistive Usability Audit of a Novel Wearable Computing Device. Additionally, Wireless RERC researcher, Dr. Young Mi Choi, presented Introducing Design Project Concepts in an Undergraduate Lecture Course at the Design and Ergonomics: Designing of Inclusive Learning Experience conference

This issue also includes news about ADA Live!, Video Relay Service, Smart Clothing, Comcast, HuskyADAPT, Apple, Hearings Aids, the “cocktail party effect,” and more.