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Strengthening Accessibility through Global Coordination

Posted November 23rd, 2010 by Jamal Mazrui - Deputy Director, Accessibility and Innovation Initiative

In 2006, the United Nations agreed on the language of a treaty known as the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).  The treaty is going through a process of signing and ratification among many countries.  In 2009, President Obama signed it in honor of the 19th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

A related endeavor is called G3ict, a public-private partnership encouraging policies to ensure that information and communication technologies (ICT) are accessible to people with disabilities.  Such ICT can equalize opportunities for independent living, social inclusion, higher education, and gainful employment -- empowering people everywhere, and especially in developing countries.

As part of a collaboration with G3ict, George Washington University hosted a policy forum last week.  Leaders in ICT policy from around the world convened with partners from the U.S. government, industry, and consumer groups.  Karen Peltz Strauss, Elizabeth Lyle, and I were able to participate on behalf of the FCC.  This is an exciting time period in which unprecedented coordination is occurring among ICT-related proceedings to set accessibility standards and policy, such as those related to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act.  We all shared perspectives, identified problems, and brainstormed solutions.

The ideas and connections were invigorating.  Let me highlight some common themes as follows:

  • Market and technology trends are  integrating life globally.
  • Harmonizing accessibility standards at that level is mutually beneficial among nations.
  • Technology products and services may be designed with unified specifications  that prepare them for all markets.
  • Industries and consumers benefit from economies of scale that lower cost and broaden reach.
  • Consistent policies reduce government administration.
  • Universal design of 21st century technologies increases productivity of workers in economies, and participation by citizens in democracies.

So, do you recall what CRPD and ICT stand for?  They are certainly not household abbreviations at present, but many of us hope their meaning will become part of everyday life in the future!

 

 

Posted in Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau Accessibility
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Next Steps on Nonvisual Cell Phone Access

Posted September 24th, 2010 by Jamal Mazrui - Deputy Director, Accessibility and Innovation Initiative

Let me encourage anyone interested to submit comments to the Commission regarding accessibility of cell and other phone technologies to people who are blind, deaf-blind, or have low vision, in furtherance of Section 255 of the Communications Act. Such comments are due by the end of Thursday, September 30, 2010. Initial comments have already been filed, and currently, a reply comment period is underway.

The public notice is entitled "Wireless Telecommunications Bureau and Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau Seek Comment on Accessible Mobile Phone Options for People who are Blind, Deaf-blind, or Have Low Vision." It may be downloaded as a Microsoft Word document from the following web address:

http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-10-1324A1.doc

Comments may be filed using the web form of the FCC's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS), located at:

http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs/

A web form on that page allows one to upload a word processor document, e.g., in Microsoft Word format. Comments may also be typed or pasted into a simpler web form called ECFS Express, located at:

http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs2/hotdocket/list

At the prompt for the docket, input:

CG Docket No. 10-145

Comments may be of any length and address any relevant issue. They will affect how the Commission handles government responsibilities in this area.

(Cross-posted on Blogband)

Posted in Wireless Consumers
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