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Archive for November 2010

Gearing Up for Open Developer Day

November 4th, 2010 by Greg Elin - Chief Data Officer

 This coming Monday the commission will play host to a one-of-a-kind event in federal government. We’re calling on coders, programmers and developers of all stripes to join us at FCC headquarters for our first ever Open Developer Day. This will be a rare opportunity for developers in the public and private sectors to join forces. Out of this gathering will come innovations, collaborations, and continued open government partnership.

Central to Monday’s event will be three tracks weaving their way through the day. Equipped with our laptops and the fellowship of sharp friends we’ll be working through accessibility solutions and open APIs; and we’ll host a Free Develop, an open-ended developer free-for-all. FCC tech minds and leadership will open the event, situating our Developer Day within the larger open government movement.

Programmers from the Yahoo! Developer Network will be on hand to demo their tools and provide guidance. They will give an overview of YQL, their query language which allows developers to “access and shape data across the Internet through one simple language, eliminating the need to learn how to call different APIs.” We will also see a demonstration of their YUI Library, a set of “utilities and controls … for building richly interactive web applications.”

An undertone, pervading a significant strand of the discussion, will be the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act. In signing the act last month, President Obama said the act “will make it easier for people who are deaf, blind or live with a visual impairment to do what many of us take for granted…  It sets new standards so that Americans with disabilities can take advantage of the technology our economy depends on.”

The full day event will start at 9:00am and take place in Washington, DC at FCC headquarters. All developers are welcome free of charge. Bring a laptop and RSVP soon. If you’re not in the DC area and are unable to make it down here, we will be live streaming portions of the day. You can also join the discussion on Twitter using the hashtag #fccdevday. To email questions write to livequestions [at] fcc [dot] gov. You can participate by visiting Accessible Event, and entering the event code 005202376. For any TTY issues please contact Pam Gregory (pam.gregory [at] fcc [dot] gov).

Start getting excited for Monday. We’ll see you there.

Lifted By the Cloud

November 2nd, 2010 by Elizabeth Lyle - Special Counsel for Innovation, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau

By Elizabeth Lyle, Pam Gregory, and Jamal Mazrui

President Obama has repeatedly made clear his commitment to equal opportunity and full inclusion for people with disabilities in all aspects of life, including access to technology.  He most recently made this point when he signed into law the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010, which provides access to advanced technologies for people with disabilities.

Chairman Genachowski has embraced this commitment wholeheartedly.  In addition to leading the charge on implementing the recently passed legislation, in July he established of the Accessibility and Innovation Initiative, as recommended in the FCC's National Broadband Plan.  The A&I Initiative promotes collaborative problem solving and uses the tools of public and private sector innovation to address accessibility barriers.

As part of this initiative, on October 21 the FCC partnered with the Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities at the University of Colorado and Raising the Floor, an international coalition of individuals and organizations who promote internet accessibility for people with disabilities, to launch "Lifted by the Cloud:  Visions of Cloud-Enhanced Accessibility" on GSA's new challenge.gov platform.  The challenge solicits short multimedia presentations from the public on their visions of how cloud computing can create new opportunities for people with disabilities.  Find out more information about this challenge, which will run until May 1, 2011.

To understand what an opportunity cloud computing can be for people with disabilities, you first have to understand the barriers that people with disabilities currently face to communications technology.  The National Broadband Plan found that only 42 percent of people with disabilities use broadband at home, compared to 65 percent nationwide.  A remarkable 39% of all non-adopters have a disability.

There are many reasons for this disparity.  Among them is the fact that devices, services, software, and content are often not accessible to people with disabilities.  Furthermore, assistive technologies used by people with disabilities - such as Braille displays, augmentative and alternative communication devices, and screen readers --  are often very expensive, not interoperable with the latest technologies, and are difficult to find and repair.

So how can cloud computing help? Cloud computing and other platforms can allow people to access the assistive technologies they need anytime, anywhere, and on any device.

Imagine the cloud knowing and storing your personal preferences (in a secure way) so that any material on the web that you wanted to access would be accessible to you.  If you are blind, you could pull down an audio version of any document on the web; and if you are deaf, any video you would access would be captioned.   For others, information could be simplified, highlighted, or translated into other languages, including sign language.   The cloud could allow consumers to choose from an ever expanding choice of third-party open source and commercial software applications that can provide access in new and innovative ways.  In short, the cloud will allow innovation and competition to address the access needs of people with disabilities and ensure that they share fully in the benefits of the broadband age.

To make this vision a reality, industry, developers, innovators, technologists, and researchers must understand the needs of people with disabilities.  Government can help by facilitating collaborations and participating in interdisciplinary conferences and workshops, such as those sponsored last month by the Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities and Silicon Flatirons at the University of Colorado and sponsored in September by the Interagency Committee on Disability Research, overseen by the Department of Education.

We also need to make cloud computing and its implications for people with disabilities understandable to a broader range of policymakers and the public.  The challenge that the FCC, the Coleman Institute, and Raising the Floor just launched is an effort to tap into the imagination and ingenuity of students, filmmakers, developers, and others to help make manifest the benefits of the cloud for people with disabilities and to chart a path for moving forward.

We need your help to ensure that all Americans, including people with disabilities, have full access to technology and are truly lifted by the cloud.  We urge anyone who might be interested in participating in this challenge or encouraging others to participate to go to challenge.gov or contact us directly.

(This is cross-posted on the Official FCC Blog)



Capture The Phone Numbers Using Your Camera Phone

If you have a camera and a 2D matrix code reader on your mobile phone, you can capture the FCC Phone numbers right to your phone by following these three easy steps:
Step 1: Take a photograph of one of the codes below using the camera on your mobile phone.
Step 2: Use your phone's Datamatrix or QR Code reader to decode the information on the photograph. Please note, these code readers are device specific and are available to download on the internet.
Step 3: Store the decoded address information to your phone's address book and use it with your Maps or GPS application.

Datamatrix and QR FCC Phones