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  • 1. TECHNOLOGY AND DISABILITY POLICY HIGHLIGHTS 7.08 November 2007 TECHNOLOGY AND DISABILITY POLICY HIGHLIGHTS 7.10 November 2007 Overview In the legislative arena this month action was taken on behalf of people with disabilities in the areas of access to emergency communications, education and elections. The House passed the 911 Modernization and Public Safety Act of 2007 [H.R. 3403 EH] to facilitate the improvement of accessibility to 911 and enhance 911 (E-911) services. In the beginning of November, the Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2007 [S. 2295] was introduced in the Senate which contains a directive to provide tested and reliable mechanisms and methods for improving accessibility to ballot verification instruments. Finally, the College Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2007 [H.R. 4137] was introduced in the House which aims to improve retention and completion of higher education by students with disabilities by creating a more accessible learning environment whether it be accessible curriculum and learning materials in accessible formats, or distance education to help with the recruitment and retention of students with disabilities who may be home bound. On the regulatory front, comment is being sought by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on the Second Report & Order (2nd R&O) and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) regarding rules governing hearing aid compatible (HAC) mobile handsets [FCC 07-192] and on the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) in Review of EAS [FCC 07-109]. In the latter FNPRM, the FCC is seeking input on how to best provide accessible emergency alerts and the HAC NPRM key issue is the de minimis exception which excludes wireless service providers and handset manufacturers with two or less mobile handset models on the market from HAC compliance. Other current activities and items of interest include 1) the release of the Open Handset Alliance’s Android Software Development Kit, 2) the National Council on Disability’s Quarterly Meeting, 3) the General Services Administration revelation that Section 508 standards are not adequately being applied in Federal procurements across all agencies, 4) the President’s nomination of Tracy Ralph Justesen to become Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services at the Department of Education, and 5) assistive technology demonstrations at Atlanta’s Center for the Visually Impaired.
  • 2. Legislative Accessible Ballot Verification Mechanisms /Policy Activities 11.1.2007 – The Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2007 [S. 2295] was introduced in the Senate, read twice and referred to the Committee on Rules and Administration. S. 2295, if passed, will amend the Help America Vote Act of 2002 [H.R. 3295] to require a voter-verified permanent paper ballot. Section 247(a)(c) mandates that the Director of the National Institute on Standards and Technology produce a report on best practices to improve accessibility for people with disabilities of ballot verification mechanisms and the method through which the mechanisms are used. The study will include the investigation and testing of existing and emerging methods and devices for assisting such individuals and shall be completed no later than December 31, 2008. Though S. 2295 specifically requests “best practices” in section 247(E)(9), it expressly prohibits the use of wireless communications devices in voting systems as a security measure, except for State certified enclosed infrared communications devices that can not be used for any remote or wide area communications. [Source: S. 2295] [http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c110:s.2295:] [Source: H.R. 3295] [http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c110:H.R.3295:] House Moves to Improve Accessibility of 911 and E-911 11.13.2007 – The House passed the 911 Modernization and Public Safety Act of 2007 [H.R. 3403 EH] by a vote of 406 to 1. The purpose of H.R. 3403 is to advance public safety by assisting the expeditious deployment of IP-enabled 911 and E-911 services, support the Nation’s transition to a national IP-enabled emergency network, and improve 911 and E-911 access to those with disabilities. The bill outlines requirements for a national migration plan to an IP-enabled emergency network with the ability to respond to any type of citizen-activated emergency communication including identifying solutions for providing E-911 access to people with disabilities and the steps necessary to implement those solutions. In doing so, the legislation stipulates in Section 102 (3), that representatives from the community of people with disabilities must be consulted. H.R. 3403 is enforceable by the FCC and any breach will be considered a violation of the Communications Act of 1934. H.R. 3403 complements the FCC’s Report and Order [FCC 07-110] extending disability access requirements that apply to telecommunications service providers and manufacturers under section 255 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, to providers of interconnected voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) services and to manufacturers of specially designed equipment used to provide VoIP. [Source: H.R. 3403 EH] [http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c110:H.R.3403:] [Source: FCC 07-110] [http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-07-110A1.doc] 2
  • 3. More Inclusive Language in Newly Introduced Legislation 11.9.2007 – The College Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2007 [H.R. 4137] was introduced in the House by Representative George Miller (D-CA). H.R. 4137 was written to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 [PL 105-244]. Section 707, Programs to Ensure Students with Disabilities Receive Quality Higher Education, is amended by replacing “students with learning disabilities” with “students with disabilities,” allowing for a broader range of students with various disabilities educational needs to be met. In the same section, the legislation addresses and endorses the use of the principles of universal design (UD) for learning, the use of accessible instructional materials and curriculum development including electronic communication for instruction and advisement, a provision for accessible distance education programs/classes and the development of teaching methods for faculty and administrators to successfully implement distance learning. The legislation requires the Secretary to report on the activities authorized by the legislation in order to provide recommendations on replicating the success stories. The Secretary’s report is expected no later than three years following the enactment of H.R. 4137. [Source: H.R. 4137] [http://Thomas.loc.giv/cgi-bin/query/z?c110:H.R.4137] Access to the Emergency Alert System (EAS), Comment Deadline Approaching 11.2.2007 – The FCC’s Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) in Review of EAS [FCC 07-109] was published in the Federal Register effectively setting the deadline to Regulatory Activities comment on proposed rule changes as December 3, 2007, with reply comments due by December 17, 2007. The EAS FNPRM released in July 2007 seeks comment on revising the Commission’s Part 11 EAS rules to expedite the development of a next generation EAS capable of securely transmitting alerts in a variety of formats (text, audio and video) by various means (broadcast, cable, satellite and other networks) to multiple devices commonly used by people with disabilities (cell phones, personal digital assistants, laptops). The FCC also seeks comment on how to best transmit alerts to non-English speakers, and whether EAS participants should be required to transmit alerts initiated by entities other than the President and state governors. [Source: Federal Register] [FCC 07-109] [http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/01jan20071800/edocket.access.gpo.gov/2007/0 7-5331.htm] FCC Seeks Comment on Amendments to Hearing Aid Compatibility and Wireless Handset Rules 11.7.2007 – The FCC released a Second Report & Order (2nd R&O) and Notice of Proposed 3
  • 4. Rulemaking (NPRM) regarding rules governing hearing aid compatible mobile handsets [FCC 07-192]. In the 2nd R&O portion of the document, the FCC holds-up previous mandates regarding 1) availability of in-store consumer testing of handset models requirement for retail outlets owned and operated by wireless carriers or service providers, and the exclusion of independent retailers; and 2) the de minimis exception which excludes wireless service providers and handset manufacturers with two or less mobile handset models on the market from HAC compliance. The de minimis exception is applicable to Apple’s iPhone which was recently criticized for not being accessible to Deaf and hard of hearing consumers with hearing aids or cochlear implants. Although the FCC has kept those rules intact, in the NPRM portion of the document the FCC is seeking renewed comments on the de minimis exception and the in-store consumer testing issues in an effort to ensure that HAC requirements remain relevant and effective in the wireless marketplace. Additionally, based on the Joint Consensus Plan submitted to the FCC in June 2007 by the Deaf and hard of hearing community and the wireless industry the FCC seeks comment regarding proposed rule changes to 1) the February 18, 2008 deadline for offering HAC handsets, 2) the expansion of wireless operators and manufacturers HAC handset portfolios to include new models and models with different degrees of functionality, 3) the adoption of the 2007 American National Standard Institute (ANSI) technical standard, and 4) the imposition of new reporting requirements. [Source: FCC 07-192] [http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-07-192A1.doc] Accessibility of Federal Electronic and Information Technologies Procured by Federal Agencies Proves Inadequate 11.6.2007 – In a joint memo to Federal Chief Acquisition Officers (CAOs) and Chief Information Officers (CIOs) from the Administrator for Federal Procurement Policy and the Other Activities Office of E-Government and Information Technology, CAOs and CIOs received a reminder and Items of (the second in as many years) that acquisitions of E&IT must comply with Section 508 Interest standards. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires that E&IT purchased by the government meet certain accessibility standards. The law was enacted to help ensure an accessible work environment for Federal employees with disabilities, as well as to ensure that citizens with disabilities have access to government information. A recent assessment by the General Services Administration revealed that across all agencies a mere 3% of solicitations complied with Section 508 standards. The memo provides the CAOs and CIOs with resources to facilitate their compliance: 1) [www.buyaccessible.gov] and 2) [www.section508.gov], and warns that the GSA will continue to review solicitations and contact offices and agencies found to be incompliant. [Source: Executive Office of the President, Office of Management and Budget] [Joint Memo (PDF Version)] [http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/procurement/508/electronic_info_technologies.pdf] [Joint Memo (HTML Version)] [http://209.85.165.104/search? 4
  • 5. q=cache:IoOYG8UY_HUJ:www.whitehouse.gov/omb/procurement/508/electronic_info_techn ologies.pdf+Ensuring+the+Accessibility+of+Federal+Electronic+and+Information&hl=en&ct =clnk&cd=1&gl=us] Center for the Visually Impaired Hosts Technology Demonstrations 11.14.2007 – Atlanta Center for the Visually Impaired’s (CVI) monthly CVI Luncheon altered its usual format of roundtable discussions to host a “show and tell” of assistive technology under development at Georgia Tech. The Sonification Lab at Georgia Tech had three demonstrations: 1) their System for Wearable Auditory Navigation (SWAN) which is designed to provide users with an auditory map of their surrounding environment, 2) auditory graphs and menus, and 3) bone-conduction headphones. Several of Georgia Tech’s Human Computer Interaction (HCI) students demonstrated their current projects, as well. One project involved a prototype glove with a camera in the palm that allowed the user to scan existing consumer products and the prototype would speak the text it saw. Two other projects were learning games for visually impaired preschoolers that help them to learn 1) shape-name associations and 2) shape-sound associations. For more information on upcoming CVI Luncheons contact Benjamin Kenneth Davison at [ben@cc.gatech.edu] [Source: Benjamin Kenneth Davison] NCD Quarterly Meeting 11.29.2007 - The National Council on Disability (NCD) had its quarterly meeting on November 29, – December 1, 2007. The agenda included an Accessibility and Universal Design panel and an Emergency Preparedness (EP) panel. Marcia Brooks, WGBH Public Television, sat on the EP panel as a researcher and advocate for accessible emergency communications, including wireless device alert notifications. She was joined by Sharon Gamache and Lisa Braxton, The Center for High-Risk Outreach, National Fire Protection Association and Myra Berloff, Massachusetts Office on Disability. The panelists on the Accessibility & Universal Design panel included Deborah Buck, Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs, Larry Goldberg, WGBH Public Television, Judy Brewer, Web Accessibility Initiative, World Wide Web Consortium and Valerie Fletcher, Adaptive Environments. Minutes from the meeting will be made available at [http://www.ncd.gov/newsroom/quarterly/quarterly.htm]. [Source: NCD] Open Handset Alliance Releases Android SDK 11.12.2007 – The Open Handset Alliance (OHA) announced the release of the Android Software Development Kit (SDK), an open mobile platform for developers to create applications for handsets connected to the Internet. The Android SDK provides an opportunity for developers to explore applications that can make mobile handsets more 5
  • 6. accessible and provide applications specifically tailored to meet the needs and desires of people with various disabilities. OHA is comprised of more than thirty members representing mobile operators, handset manufacturers, software companies, semiconductor companies and commercialization companies. FCC Chairman Kevin Martin stated “I was pleased to hear the announcement by the OHA of the plans to introduce an open platform for mobile devices…I continue to believe that more openness, at the network, device, or application level, helps foster innovation and enhances consumers’ freedom and choice in purchasing wireless service.” [Source: Android SDK Press Release] [http://www.openhandsetalliance.com/press_111207.html] To download Android SDK visit [http://www.openhandsetalliance.com/developers.html.] [Source: Chairman Martin's Statement] [http://209.85.165.104/search? q=cache:xtuq1DGdeT8J:www.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2007/db1106/DOC-27 7986A1.pdf+CHAIRMAN+MARTIN %E2%80%99S+STATEMENT+ON+OPEN+HANDSET+ALLIANCE %E2%80%99S+PLANS&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=3&gl=us] President Announces Nominees for His Administration The President plans to nominate Tracy Ralph Justesen, of Utah, to be Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services at the Department of Education. Mr. Justesen currently serves as Deputy Director of the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research at the Department of Education. He has served as an Attorney-Advisor in the Disability Rights Section at the Department of Justice and as an Associate Director in the Domestic Policy Council at the White House. [Source: The White House, Personnel Announcement] [http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/11/20071115-9.html] Airline Travel Survey of People with Visual Impairments The Wireless RERC is currently trying to gain user insight on airline travel to help best determine how Location-Based Services can improve future travel. Input from people with visual impairments who have traveled by plane will aid the research. Please help us by taking the Airline Travel Survey. [http://cansurvey.wirelessrerc.org/survey/airport_survey_v2.htm] RERC Updates Georgia Tech’s Disability & Diversity Day The Wireless RERC had a booth at the Adaptive Technology Fair at Georgia Tech’s Disability 6
  • 7. and Diversity Day 2007. This is an annual event that focuses on adaptive and assistive technologies developed by faculty and departments at Georgia Tech. 25th Annual Institute on Telecommunications Policy & Regulation The Practicing Law Institute and the Federal Communications Bar association are co- sponsoring the 25th Annual Institute on Telecommunications Policy & Regulation on December 5-6, 2007 in Washington, D.C. The objective is to provide an overview of key issues to consider in the telecommunications field in 2008 at the FCC, Congress, Executive Branch and the Courts. There will be an examination of the marketplace and regulatory developments in wireline and wireless telecommunications, industry competition, convergence and consolidation. Features of the conference include tutorials by FCC officials, Upcoming a Congressional staff panel, a debate, “Is the U.S. Competitive In Broadband?” and a Events networking luncheon. For more information click here[http://www.pli.edu/product/program_detail.asp? ptid=511&stid=3&id=EN00000000032171] 2008 International CES The annual Consumer Electronics Show will take place January7-10, 2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada, boasting 2700 exhibitors in over 30 different product areas including wireless, content, and in-vehicle services. Though the show is geared toward the broad market consumer, specific sessions such as Making Room for the Boom: CE for the Aging Consumer, do address the needs and desires of the aging population. Products and services created for people with disabilities do not headline CES, however, this time last year at CES, research on developing a wireless MP3 player linked to a cochlear implant was presented [see URL: http://asia.cnet.com/reviews/musicplay/0,39050461,61980093,00.htm]. For more information or to register click here [http://www.cesweb.org/default.asp]. Assistive Technology Assessment for Students Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired The American Federation for the Blind's National Literacy Center in Atlanta is hosting a two- and-a-half day training seminar, “Assistive Technology Assessment for Students who are Blind or Visually Impaired,” on February 7-9, 2008. The workshop will teach techniques to determine the technology needs of students for accessing printed and electronic information, and producing written communications and materials in alternate formats. All applications for this free workshop must be received by January 8, 2008. Since there are only 24 spaces available, applicants will be notified of their acceptance status within one week of the submission deadline. For more information, contact Shirley Landrum at [slandrum@afb.net] or 404-525-2303. 7
  • 8. Disability and Special Needs Technical Assistance Conference, Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Recovery Government Horizons and the National Organization on Disability’s Emergency Preparedness Initiative are co-sponsoring the “Disability and Special Needs Technical Assistance Conference, Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Recovery,” January 8-9, 2008 in Washington, D.C. The conference will provide technical assistance on elements of emergency management planning and response for people with disabilities and special needs. Federal, state and local experts will convene to share challenges and solutions in planning for vulnerable populations. For more information or to register click here [http://www.governmenthorizons.org/emergency-preparedness-and-response08.htm] Technology and Disability Policy Highlights reports on national and local public policy events and recent wireless technological advances and political activities; and tracks emerging issues of interest to individuals with disabilities and their families. Technology and Disability Policy Highlights is published monthly by the Wireless RERC. The Wireless RERC is a research center focusing on promoting universal access to wireless technologies and This is a publication of the explores their innovative applications in addressing the needs of people with disabilities. For Rehabilitation more information on the Wireless RERC, please visit our web site at Engineering Research Center [http://www.wirelessrerc.org]. on Wireless Technologies for Persons with For further information on items summarized in this report, or if you have items of interest Disabilities that you would like included in future editions, please contact the editor, Salimah Major, supported by the National Institute Information Analyst [Salimah.major@cacp.gatech.edu] or Paul M.A. Baker, Ph.D., AICP, on Disability and Director of Research [paul.baker@cacp.gatech.edu]. Rehabilitation Research of the U.S. Department of Education, grant # H133E060061. The opinions contained in this publication are those of the grantee and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. 8
  • 9. Department of Education. 9

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