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An ADA Celebration for the Broadband Age

July 23rd, 2010 by Karen Peltz Strauss

Monday’s celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act was a momentous occasion – and we plan on building from that momentum over the coming weeks and months.

The White House, the FCC and the Department of Commerce teamed together to sponsor an all-day event that started at the White House with accessibility-related technology announcements from all over the Federal government.

In the afternoon, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski launched the Accessibility and Innovation Initiative, which will bring together consumer, industry, government, technology, and academic stakeholders in collaborative efforts to explore accessibility solutions to access barriers. The Chairman also announced the start of the Initiative’s website, the establishment of the Chairman’s Awards for Advancements in Accessibility, and other disability-related challenges and events in which the Commission will be participating.

Commissioner Copps was also actively engaged in the day’s activities, and gave remarks during a morning panel at the White House and the afternoon program at the Department of Commerce. Both Chairman Genachowski and Commissioner Copps toured some of the 40-plus accessibility and technology exhibits arranged by the FCC and on display at the Department of Commerce.

The afternoon included a moving program with musical and dance acts by the Wild Zappers (a deaf dance troupe) and Gallaudet University students, and an FCC original video chronicling personal stories about the impact of technology on people with disabilities. Watch for this video, which will soon be posted on the FCC’s website.

On Monday, the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau (CGB) also released a Public Notice seeking comment on the accessibility of the Commission’s activities and programs (to fulfill its Section 504 obligations) and CGB and the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau jointly released a Public Notice seeking comment on accessible mobile phone options for people who are blind, deaf-blind, or have low vision.

The day ended with a brainstorming discussion by technology developers and persons with disabilities to identify and prioritize technology barriers to people with disabilities and to explore possible solutions to those barriers.

Today, the FCC participated in Apps4Access, an event being hosted by the Committee on Disability Power and Pride that is focused on giving consumers an opportunity to become better acquainted with wireless and other applications that are accessible to people with disabilities. Stay tuned for more about this event, as well as future blog posts on other exciting disability-related announcements and events involving the FCC.

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