By Sherrese Smith, Media Advisor to Chairman Genachowski, and David Goldman, Advisor to Chairman Genachowski on Wireless Issues
The FCC has worked since its inception in 1934 to help the people with hearing disabilities gain equal access to telecommunications and media. To mark the Commission’s 75th anniversary, Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. (TDI) honored the Commission on Friday with an award recognizing this vital work. When presenting the award, Dr. Roy Miller, the Board President of TDI, as well as other members of TDI, took the opportunity to note the FCC’s contributions towards access to communication for people with hearing, vision, and other disabilities. Chairman Genachowski accepted the award on behalf of the Commission and stressed the Commission’s commitment to these crucial issues and the importance of access to communications for all.
The Chairman is excited about this recognition of the hard and significant work done by the Commission staff. Nonetheless, he does not see this award as a reason for the Commission to rest on it laurels, but rather as a challenge to continue to develop smart policy in this vital area.
While people with hearing disabilities still face considerable obstacles, new technologies offer opportunities to overcome these barriers. For instance, as we learned in our broadband workshops recent developments have given this community of users greater access to 911 and other emergency services. In addition, advances in communications technology have helped other communities, such as providing people with vision disabilities increased access to books and periodicals, and people with mobility disabilities better opportunities for jobs and civic engagement. Hence, the Chairman believes the Commission should embrace a role that fosters investment and innovation in accessibility technologies and helps the industry develop best practices. The Commission should also work to ensure all communications consumers are able to take advantage of all of the latest advancements.
On behalf of the Commission, we thank TDI for the recognition and we look forward to working with them to tackle the ongoing accessibility challenges. We also join the Chairman in congratulating the Commission for its work in earning this award. Finally, we say “thank you” to the Commission staff for the continuing efforts to improve accessibility for everyone.