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Federal Communications Commission



Policy Solutions and Recommendations for Broadband Access for People with Disabilities

October 5th, 2009 by Elizabeth Lyle - Special Counsel for Innovation, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau

Elizabeth Lyle BBWe are now planning to have an expanded two-hour policy roundtable on policy solutions and recommendations at our October 20 workshop.  We expect 15-20 stakeholders from the disability community, industry, academia, and government to have a high-level discussion of policy recommendations that should be included in the National Broadband Plan.  Among other things, the roundtable will discuss whether additional legislative and regulatory action is needed to address accessibility and affordability challenges; what non-regulatory actions the FCC could or should take to promote accessibility to broadband by people with disabilities; and what actions other federal agencies, state, local and tribal governments, industry and industry consortia and other national and international industry/consumer/government consortia, the disability community, consumer groups, and other non-profits should take to promote broadband accessibility for people with disabilities.

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

  • What additional legislative and regulatory action is needed to address accessibility and affordability challenges?
  • Should Congress require that the same kinds of accessibility regulations that have applied to telecommunications and media in the past be applied to broadband?  How successful have these regulations been?  Are there any differences between telecommunications/media accessibility and broadband accessibility which may affect whether regulation is effective and efficient?
  • To what extent should captioning requirements be applied to Internet content, including user-generated content?
  • What reforms should be made to the Interstate TRS Fund, particularly the funding of VRS?  Should the Commission consider funding VRS equipment through a separate mechanism?
  • Is there a mechanism in which the federal government could partner with state equipment distribution programs to ensure that there was a comprehensive broadband assistive technologies program in each state?  Could universal service funds be used to supplement state funds for broadband assistive technologies?  Under what circumstances should people with disabilities be eligible for universal service funds?
  • What additional funds, including research funds, should Congress appropriate to promote access to broadband for people with disabilities?
  • What actions are necessary to promote open standards and interoperability between broadband technologies and assistive technologies?
  • What is the best mechanism to ensure that meaningful data about broadband usage by people with disabilities is collected and analyzed?
  • What additional action should other agencies take relating to the implementation and enforcement of current laws? Should DOJ apply the provisions of the ADA to companies selling products on the Internet?  Should the Department of Education do more to apply the protections of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to services that are provided over the Internet?  Should the accessibility requirements that are applicable to the procurement of electronic and information technology by federal agencies be more broadly required?
  • What legal and regulatory actions are needed to implement an "overarching accessibility principle"?  How would an "Accessibility Impact Statement" be effectuated?
  • What non-regulatory actions should the FCC take to promote the accessibility and affordability of broadband for people with disabilities?  What kinds of outreach activities should the Commission engage in? Are there some broadband accessibility issues that may be better addressed in an interagency forum?  When might it be appropriate for the Commission to facilitate consumer-industry agreements or participate in consumer-industry standards forums?  Should the Commission make more information available to the public about the complaints it receives related to broadband accessibility?
  • What non-regulatory actions are needed by other federal, state, local, and tribal agencies to promote accessibility to broadband by people with disabilities?  Please provide more information about roles industry and industry consortia and other national and international industry/consumer/government consortia and standards setting groups can play and how effective these efforts are. What role can the disability community, consumer groups, and other non-profits play to promote and ensure accessibility?
  • What other information, including information responsive to the more specific questions in the Public Notice do you think would help us better understand potential policy recommendations related to providing accessible and affordable broadband to 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.

3 Responses to “Policy Solutions and Recommendations for Broadband Access for People with Disabilities”

  1. Ken Salaets /ITI says:

    Great event, Elizabeth! Thanks for including us.

    Cheers,

    Ken

  2. Elizabeth Lyle says:

    Thanks, Ken! We learned a lot!

  3. Ishak Kang says:

    Likewise, it was inspiring to hear the stories from many advocates about the widening gap between technology and universal access. Let's continue the work to create a triple-win scenario for the FCC, Industry and consumer.

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