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Furthering National Purposes for People with Disabilities

September 24th, 2009 by Elizabeth Lyle - Special Counsel for Innovation, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau

Elizabeth Lyle BBWe have tentatively planned for a panel at our October 20 workshop to discuss the potential for broadband to further health care, education, public safety and homeland security, job creation/worker training, civic participation/community development for people with disabilities.

Please give us your feedback on workshop planning issues (e.g., how to structure this panel, suggested questions and speakers, and helpful background reading material) and policy issues.

  • Health Care. Please comment and elaborate on the suggestion of one workshop participant that the "National Broadband Plan include a direction that the Health IT standards and funding be highly cognizant of the needs of people with disabilities."  Are there certain health care applications that are particularly beneficial for people with disabilities?  What policies are needed to spur the development of these applications?
  • Education. Are there certain education applications that are particularly helpful to people with disabilities?  Does Bookshare, the world's largest accessible digital library of scanned material for people with vision and reading disabilities, provide a useful model for those seeking to use broadband to further educational opportunity for people with disabilities? What policies are needed to develop and further the distribution and use of accessible educational media, accessible distance learning applications, and accessible school-home integration programs?
  • Public Safety and Homeland Security.  Are there certain public safety and homeland security applications that are particularly helpful to people with disabilities?  What policies are needed to allow users to send and receive public safety and homeland security messages in voice, real-time text, and video for sign language? What interfaces need to be available for those with cognitive disabilities?  What policies do we need to adopt to ensure that 9-1-1 services, including location capabilities, are accessible to people using wireless broadband services?
  • Job creation/worker training.  Are there certain job creation/worker training applications that are particularly helpful to people with disabilities?  We seek comment on the potential of broadband to further opportunities in teleworking, job creation, and worker training for people with disabilities.
  • Civic Participation/community development. Are there certain civic participation/community development applications that are particularly helpful to people with disabilities? What actions are needed to assure the accessibility of . . . [civic participation] platforms and applications?  We seek comment on the potential of broadband to further opportunities in civic participation and community development for people with disabilities.
  • What other information, including information responsive to the more specific questions in the Public Notice do you think would help us better understand the potential for broadband to further these or other national purposes for people with disabilities?

Please file your comments using our Electronic Filing Comment System, using either ECFS Express or our standard submission page if you need to attach a file.

4 Responses to “Furthering National Purposes for People with Disabilities”

  1. Jim Tobias says:

    Health Care: As health care records move to electronic formats, it is important that they be made accessible to people with disabilities who will be acting both as patients and as health care providers.

  2. Jim Tobias says:

    Education: Bookshare is indeed an exemplary program. It intelligently manages the intellectual property issues with publishers, without which the content would not be made available; at the same time, it reaches out to educational institutions with an easy-to-join, easy-to-use network. Bookshare recognizes that teachers, administrators, and end users need school-oriented technological tools to take advantage of the content. Perhaps most importantly, the large-scale commitment of federal education resources to Bookshare has guaranteed that it reaches the millions of students in its intended market; too many good ideas about accessibility remain only as "Potemkin prototypes".

  3. Jim Tobias says:

    Jobs: Too many online job applications, both public and private sector, are inaccessible to potential applicants with disabilities. An alternate method of applying forces the applicant to reveal a disability; it's not the best way to start a relationship with an employer.

  4. Jim Tobias says:

    Civic Participation: Of course all voting technologies should be thoroughly evaluated for accessibility, and the most stringent standards upheld. In addition, e-government communication channels, including web sites and video feeds of public meetings, should be as accessible as possible.

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