Federal Communications Commission

Expanding our Blog Coverage to Promote Accessibility

May 24th, 2010 by Pam Gregory

This is the third in a series of blog posts seeking public input on the establishment of an Accessibility and Innovation Forum ("A&I Forum" or "Forum").  The first post sought input on clearinghouses and the second one sought input on the Chairman's Award.

This post seeks input on expanding our blog coverage to promote accessibility. Beginning in July, we plan to expand our blog coverage to highlight best practices, accessibility announcements, and ongoing efforts in industry; standards groups; international fora; government; academia; the disability community; and in other fora and venues.  We tentatively think that we should solicit "guest bloggers" from outside the FCC to blog about these efforts. 

We would like to have posts which announce accessibility breakthroughs, such as the introduction of innovative new products, the finalization of new standards, or the establishment of new practices in the private or public sectors which promote accessibility. We would like to learn about models of accessibility at the international, federal, tribal, state, and local levels.  We also would like to learn about progress in ongoing public-private collaborative partnerships and efforts in the disability community and by students and academics.

What current efforts or upcoming announcements or events do you think our blog should highlight? Should we set up a mechanism which would allow individuals or entities from outside the FCC to sign up to do "guest" blog posts? We seek your input on what guidelines we should have for these posts.  We also seek your comment on other new media tools that we should consider using or expanding to promote accessibility.

We welcome any suggestions or models that you may recommend. You can respond directly to this post, file a comment in docket CG10-100, or e-mail comments and suggestions to AND  We would appreciate feedback as soon as possible but ask that you file any comments no later than Thursday, June 10. 

You can also sign up to receive periodic e-mails about the Forum's activities and other Commission accessibility issues by sending an e-mail to  We look forward to hearing from you!

4 Responses to “Expanding our Blog Coverage to Promote Accessibility”

  1. Guest says:

    This is an incredibility short sighted plan that will SERIOUSLY limit internet access in huge parts of rural America. VERY ill-advised. WDay

  2. Guest says:

    This blog has been very informative and seems to contain well designed posts that develop a pragmatic view on a broadband buildout. I would like to see that continue. If a guest blogger can offer a similar, 'common sense' stance on the topic, the more the merrier; if rhetoric begins to switch to a forum designed to sway opinion based on the interests of individuals, politicians, or corporations, and not what makes the most sense for the benefit of the broadband user group, then no thank you.

  3. Mary Brooner says:

    I find myself confused about what is the purpose of an FCC Accessibility Blog, what would be the criteria for participation, and how or whether blog entries would be reviewed or edited by FCC staff. These questions should be addressed before the FCC walks too deeply down the blog path.

    What criteria would the FCC apply to select or invite guest bloggers? This is a very important issue because it could be perceived as an indication of how open or closed to various views the agency may be. How important are facts and fact checking as opposed to personal opinion?
    Would the criteria be the guest's personal views or that the guest is representative of a large group which would be identified in the blog? This is the difference between personal opinion and representative advocacy. Both writers and readers should have the benefit of knowing the criteria.

    These are not new questions about blogs, of course, but the use of blogs by the FCC is new. Newspapers such as the New York Times, distinguish between news blogs, which exist to report and analyze, and opinion blogs, both written by reporters. Further, the editors represent that all blogs are edited and have standards for accuracy and fairness. While the Times is a news institution and the FCC is a regulatory agency of the government, it seems to me that standards for accuracy and fairness are critically important to the quality of both.

    I support the way the FCC staff has used this blog to float ideas and get feedback informally. I’m sure it both helps the staff and creates more work. Several of the ideas suggested by Pam Gregory in her blog entry fall into the category of soft news – new product introduction, status of standards, the progress of partnerships. It is important to talk about these topics and to inform the interested public, and it may be that an FCC blog space is as good as any other, but I do worry about the impact of the “regulating agency” being the sponsor and the filter.

    Thank you for considering my views.

    Mary Brooner
    MB Consulting, LLC

  4. Mary Brooner says:

    Thank you for the opportunity to address the FCC’s interests in expanding its workshops, field events and facilitated dialogues to include accessibility topics. Workshops and field events have long been a tool of the FCC for information gathering in other areas of FCC regulation, such as spectrum planning and emergency communications.

    In his initial blog, Greg Hlibok, FCC staff, asks a number of questions. One is about frequency. My response to this question is it depends, but recognize that a workshop is a time commitment for preparation by the participants as well as the FCC staff and an expense to most participants. In short, there has to be more value than burden to participants for optimal success.

    I recommend that the FCC set some topics – a variety of issues – and then consider some workshops in Washington and some co-located with other events where industry and/or advocates will be in attendance. The advantages of co-locating are greater diversity of participants/listeners and reduced travel for at least some of the participants. Co-locating an FCC workshop with a consumer accessibility show such as CSUN or ATIA will allow a diversity of accessibility developers and users to participate, as well as ICT industry representatives. If the FCC co-locates a workshop at a large industry trade show such as CTIA or CEA, a greater diversity of manufacturers, and a wider range of developers and providers are likely to be in attendance and for some the cost of travel to participate will be reduced. Strange as it may sound, not all knowledge and experience is inside the Washington Beltway.

    As for a workshop on best practices, it is important to remember that there have to be practices in place to have "best" practices. In other words, best practices follows the introduction of a new service, technology or policy. So, for example, there might be best practices with in US Government agencies covered by Section 508’s undue burden requirement, because there has been at least a decade of experience with the regulation. But, best practices for industry and service providers with undue burden, doesn’t exist, although readily achievable best practices might well exist. This is a good example of another contribution the FCC could make – to facilitate dialogue within government agencies, as well as with industry and consumers.

    Lastly, I have some reservations about facilitated dialogue. The concept is important and worked well with Hearing Aid Compatibility. However, the distinction is that HAC dialogues occurred between manufacturers, consumers and providers. Periodically, the status of dialogues was reported to the FCC – the regulating agency. The dialogue would likely have been different if the FCC had sponsored or attended every dialogue meeting. Also facilitated dialogues can get down in the knitty details; my experience is that they do and are therefore time consuming. It is a commitment of resources by all parties and should be reserved for the few issues where this type of commitment is appropriate and necessary. A single or a few sessions of facilitated dialogue will not likely achieve the depth that results in understanding of complex issues and eventually consensus.

    Mary Brooner
    MB Consulting, LLC

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