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FCC Broadband Plan Draws from Center's Comments
The Federal Communication Commission's National Broadband Plan, sent to Congress on March 16, 2010, includes broad-ranging disability access recommendations. Cited in the plan are the extensive public comments submitted by Center Director Gregg Vanderheiden and both RERC teams (Telecommunications Access; Universal Interface & IT Access), discussing issues and potential solutions to ensure that people with disabilities are able to fully participate and benefit from coming advances in broadband technologies.
The Center contributed its expertise in response to the FCC's request for additional information on access to broadband by people with disabilities. Public comments include the following:
Oct. 6, 2009: Comments of the RERC on Universal Interface and Information Technology to the FCC in the Matter of Broadband Accessibility for People with Disabilities - Workshop II: Barriers, Opportunities, and Policy Recommendations - These comments relate to the general issues of broadband accessibility, including the problems across disabilities and specific to types of disability, affordability and funding considerations, market responsiveness, universal design and assistive technology solutions, and a proposed National Public Inclusive Infrastructure.
Oct. 6, 2009: Comments of the RERC on Telecommunications Access to the FCC in the Matter of Broadband Accessibility for People with Disabilities - Workshop II: Barriers, Opportunities, and Policy Recommendations - These comments focus on problems, possible solutions, and policy recommendations related to accessible IP-based communication.
Dec. 1, 2009: Comments of the RERC on Telecommunications Access to the FCC in the Matter of Public Safety Issues Related to Broadband Communication To and From People with Disabilities, NBP #14 - These comments focus on third-party communication services, opportunities for making alerts available to broadband users, and broadband access to 9-1-1.
Jan. 5, 2010: Ex Parte Comments of the RERC on Telecommunications Access and the MobileASL Project - Public Safety Issues Related to Broadband - A current assessment of what is needed for broadband support for conversational ASL and audio/video communication using lipreading as a supplement to voice, these comments also add an important precautionary warning about the effect of reduced audio quality on the accessibility of emergency voice communications to people who are hard of hearing.
Jan. 6, 2010: Supplemental Comments in the Matter of Broadband Accessibility for People with Disabilities - Workshop II: Barriers, Opportunities, and Policy Recommendations - These comments were prepared by members of a coalition of academic, industry and non-governmental organizations and individuals who support the inclusion of enhancements to our broadband infrastructure needed to enable access by people with disabilities. The Trace Center is taking a leading role in this coalition, which proposes a National Public Inclusive Infrastructure as a critical component for broadband accessibility.
In addition to the Center's written comments, Vanderheiden presented at the FCC Broadband Policy Round Table held at Gallaudet University on Oct. 20, 2010.
Vanderheiden also presented as an invited panelist at the Silicon Flatirons Conference on the National Broadband Plan and Accessibility for People With Disabilities, held in Washington, D.C., on March 10, 2010. Speaking at this event, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said that "with only 42% of all people with disabilities in the U.S. reaping the benefits of high-speed Internet services at home, the nation must take advantage of a unique opportunity now to make this critical technology more accessible." (A video of the conference is available.)