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Federal Communications Commission



Disabilities Access Category

Federal, State, Local, and Tribal Resources to Make Broadband Accessible and Affordable to People with Disabilities

September 25th, 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 funding and other resources at the federal, state, local, and tribal level that promote or could promote broadband accessibility and affordability 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.

  • What federal resources are available or could be available to fund broadband access and equipment for people with disabilities?
  • What are the potential sources for federal research funding that could promote broadband accessibility and affordability?
  • What resources are available to help better coordinate federal data collection relating to broadband usage by people with disabilities?
  • What lessons can we learn from programs that currently serve to promote broadband accessibility and affordability for people with disabilities?
  • What state, local and tribal resources are available to fund broadband access for people with disabilities?
  • What state equipment distribution programs provide equipment that can be used by people with disabilities to access broadband? Are there model programs that could be replicated elsewhere?
  • Are there potential state, local, and tribal resources that promote research or provide other support to promote broadband accessibility?
  • What other information, including information responsive to the more specific questions in the Public Notice do you think would help us better understand the federal, state, local, and tribal resources available to make broadband accessible and affordable 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.

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.

Technological Barriers and Solutions for People with Disabilities

September 23rd, 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 on providing access to people with disabilities to discuss technological barriers, solutions, and costs as they relate to broadband networks, services, equipment, software, content, and tech support.

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.

  • As a general matter, what technical issues do we need to consider as we formulate policy recommendations "to stay ahead of technology?"
  • How would a "functionally inclusive infrastructure" which would build accessibility features directly into the broadband infrastructure be built?  How much would it cost? Should the National Broadband Plan include specific policy recommendations relating to the "functionally inclusive infrastructure?"
  • What are the technical issues that we need to consider as we formulate policies related to "improve access to 9-1-1 (including location capabilities) for those communicating with non-traditional text, video, and instant messaging communications services?
  • On what technical issues relating to equipment, software, content and tech support affecting the accessibility of broadband should we focus?
  • What are the interoperability challenges that manufacturers face and what steps need to be taken to address these challenges?  What policies would promote "openness" and ensure that assistive technology (AT) vendors are not locked out of closed systems?
  • What are the technical challenges related to ensuring that AT equipment is compatible with broadband equipment and software - and that sufficient tech support is available to help consumers navigate the interaction between these devices?
  • How much accessibility should be incorporated in mass market equipment through universal design principles and how much accessibility should be gained through assistive technologies?
  • What are the technical issues related to making broadband media accessible and what are some of the innovations that will be necessary to make user-generated content accessible?
  • What other information that you think would help us better understand the technological barriers and solutions, including information responsive to the more specific questions in our recent Public Notice?.

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.

Accessibility and Affordability Barriers to Broadband Faced by People with Disabilities

September 22nd, 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 barriers to broadband accessibility and affordability for (i) people with hearing disabilities; (ii) people who are blind and have vision disabilities; (iii) people with speech disabilities; (iv) people who are deaf-blind; (v) people with mobility disabilities; and (vi) people with intellectual disabilities and social communication disabilities, including autism.

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.  For each disability, we are interested in learning

  • the number of people who use broadband;
  • the biggest accessibility barriers;
  • whether affordability is a major concern;
  • whether subsidizing the cost of specialized equipment would increase broadband use, and, if so, by how much;
  • whether subsidizing the cost of broadband service by low-income consumers in the community would increase broadband use, and, if so, by how much;
  • whether the marketplace is more or less responsive to accessibility concerns than it was in the past;
  • the percentage of mass market consumer broadband equipment and devices that have the needed accessibility features;
  • what broadband applications are potentially the most beneficial;
  • whether more outreach will help spur broadband use, and, if so, whether there are effective mechanisms or networks by which to do so; and
  • any other information that you think would help us better understand the accessibility and affordability barriers faced by people with disabilities, including information responsive to the more specific questions in the PN.

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.

Collaborating On Bringing Broadband To People With Disabilities

September 18th, 2009 by Gray Brooks - FCC New Media

Today, we are launching a new category on Blogband called "disabilities access."  In this category, we will start with five posts tracking the five panels that we have tentatively proposed for our October 20th follow-up workshop on disabilities access.  The first five posts solicit information relating to workshop planning and policy issues on the following topics:

  • Accessibility and Affordability Barriers Faced by People with Disabilities
  • Technological Barriers and Solutions
  • Furthering National Purposes and People with Disabilities
  • Federal, State, and Local Resources to Make Broadband Accessible and Affordable to People with Disabilities
  • Policy Solutions and Recommendations

This new process has tremendous potential to shape our work on the national broadband plan.  It will allow many more people to have input on the structure and substance of our upcoming workshop.  It will also make possible in-depth, collaborative discussions on complex topics - of which there are many.  In sum, we hope to facilitate an iterative process in which diverse parties can build from and react to the ideas of others, in a productive and thoughtful manner.  And, of course, we welcome your ideas about how we can make this process more accessible.

Public Notice Seeks Comment on Ensuring Accessible and Affordable Broadband for People with Disabilities

September 18th, 2009 by Elizabeth Lyle - Special Counsel for Innovation, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau

Elizabeth Lyle BBToday we released a Public Notice, or PN, asking for recommendations to ensure that broadband technologies are accessible and affordable to people with disabilities.  The large number of questions in the PN makes it clear that we have a lot to do if we are going to formulate meaningful policy.  There are numerous, complex issues to discuss and distill in the coming months, and it is critical that we work collaboratively with all stakeholders to get this right.  Here is how you can help:

  • Help us plan the structure and substance of our upcoming workshop on Oct. 20. We invite suggestions on panel topics, exhibits, speakers and additional questions.  We also welcome your ideas for background material that may be helpful for us and all those participating in the workshop.  Our goal is to use the workshop time as effectively as possible to help us formulate policy recommendations.  You can give us your input by filing comments in the FCC's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) by using either ECFS Express or our standard submission page if you need to attach a file.  Please note in your comments that they are responding to NBP Public Notice #4 or in response to a blog that we will be posting for each panel in Blogband (see more details below).  The sooner you file your suggestions, the better.
  • Respond to questions in the PN by October 6. Before we can make policy recommendations, we have to understand better the accessibility and affordability barriers faced by people with disabilities; the technological barriers and solutions; the potential of broadband to advance certain national purposes (related, for example, to health care, education, public safety, job creation/worker training, and civic participation/community development) for people with disabilities; resources existing at the federal, state, local, and tribal level that we can leverage to make broadband accessible and affordable to people with disabilities; and the effectiveness of regulatory and non-regulatory mechanisms in promoting accessibility and affordability for people with disabilities.  To the extent that commenters are able to help us gather information in advance of the workshop, we can both build on this information and narrow the focus of the workshop accordingly.  We would also appreciate your help in identifying commenters who may be expert at certain issues (e.g., on barriers faced by those who have intellectual disabilities) who have not participated in this proceeding (or perhaps any other FCC proceeding) to date.  File comments as described above, and once again, please mark your submission as responsive to NBP Public Notice #4.
  • Participate in the new disability access policy blog.  As mentioned above, we are establishing a "disabilities access" category on Blogband where we will post five different blog posts to track the tentative panels that we propose for our workshop.  That is, we will have posts (and ongoing threads) on (1) Accessibility and Affordability Barriers Faced by People with Disabilities; (2) Technological Barriers and Solutions; (3) Furthering National Purposes and People with Disabilities; (4) Federal, State, and Local Resources to Make Broadband Accessible and Affordable to People with Disabilities; and (5) Policy Solutions and Recommendations.  The posts will cover the same kinds of questions that are set forth in the PN.  We know that many of the issues that we raise would benefit from having an ongoing, iterative process in which we could collaborate on these issues before and after the workshop.  We also will post new blog posts when we want to focus on a particular topic in more detail.  And, as noted above, we also invite comments relating to workshop planning in response to these posts.  Finally, if you want to initiate an idea not covered in the blog posts, we encourage you to do so by going to broadband.ideascale.com and clicking on accessibility for people with disabilities.



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