University of Maryland


FCC Broadband Plan Draws from Center’s Comments

March 23rd, 2010

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.

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.)