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Telecommunications/Information Technology

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Telecommunications | Electronic & Information Technology | Organizations & Media Resources


Federal Communications Commission (FCC) | State Initiatives

  • Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

    Telecommunications Act | Video Description | Wireless

      Telecommunications Act
      • Telecommunications Act of 1996
        This law was the first major overhaul of telecommunications law in almost 62 years. The goal of this law is to let anyone enter any communications business to compete in any market against any other communications business.
        Text Version
        0PDF Version
        Summary of the law
      • Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act (1996)
        Rules and policies to implement section 255 of the Telecomunications Act.
      Speech-to-Speech (STS) Relay
      • Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech Disabilities (2000)
        With this Order, the FCC amended the rules governing the delivery of telecommunications relay services to expand the kinds of relay services available to consumers and to improve the quality of relay services, based on its ten years of experience with Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) and changes in available technologies.
      • Provision of Improved Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech Disabilities, CC Docket No. 98-67, Declaratory Ruling and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Adopted April 18, 2002)
        Commissioner Abernathy's statement that "the FCC must not allow regulatory artifacts to slow innovation by limiting support for TRS to older technologies. IP Relay - a service that has the ability to improve communication for all Americans that rely on TRS - is just the sort of development that should warrant the Commission's prompt attention.
      Video Description
      • Implementation of Video Description of Video Programming (July 21, 2001)
        The FCC adoption of video description rules to make television more accessible to persons with visual disabilities.
        PDF Version
      • FCC's Video Description Summary
        In July 2000, the FCC adopted video description rules that will make television more accessible to people with visual disabilities. The rules took affect in April 2002.
        Broadcast stations affiliated with the ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC networks in the top 25 television markets, as of September 30, 2000, and that are located in communities in the top 25 TV markets (as defined by the Designated Market Areas, or DMA's, of Nielsen Media Research) must provide at least 50 hours per calendar quarter (roughly four hours per week) of video description during prime time and/or children's programming.
      • Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (WTB)
        The WTB handles all FCC domestic wireless telecommunications programs and policies, except those involving satellite communications or broadcasting, including licensing, enforcement, and regulatory functions. Wireless communications services include cellular telephone, paging, personal communications services, public safety, and other commercial and private radio services. The Bureau also is responsible for implementing the competitive bidding authority for spectrum auctions, given to the Commission by the 1993 Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act.
  • State Initiatives
    • Assistive Technology Act Projects' Telecommunications Initiatives Telephone Distribution Programs
      These types of programs provide "special telephone equipment" free to persons with hearing, speech, or other disabilities. The programs usually are funded by a surcharge levied on all telephone subscribers. Different programs provide different equipment for different disabilities. Examples of equipment may include amplified handsets, light signalers, hands-free telephones, and TTYs.

      Arkansas | Iowa | Pennsylvania | Texas

      • Arkansas
        Act 530 passed and expanded the Arkansas Rehabilitation Services Telecommunications Access Program to include the purchase of telecommunications systems for anyone with a disability. The original legislation allowed deaf/blind, deaf, hard of hearing and speech impaired access. This program is funded by a tariff on telephone lines. Arkansas Increasing Capabilities Access Network (ICAN) developed information about the bill to educate legislators and the governor's staff and testified at both Senate and House committee meetings.

      • Iowa
        The Iowa Program for Assistive Technology (IPAT) began working with a coalition on legislative changes needed to expand the Telephone Equipment Loan Program service to include any person with a disability. The current program only provides vouchers for a "core" group of consumers, which is limited to persons with hearing or speech problems. IPAT has provided technical assistance about the expansion to the Iowa Utilities Board, which is responsible for administering the program.

      • Pennsylvania
        Pennsylvania's Initiative on Assistive Technology (PIAT) has worked with the General Assembly to expand the definition of "disability" under the Telecommunications Device Distribution Program to include all people with disabilities who require technology to independently access telecommunications services.

      • Texas
        The Texas Technology Access Project helped increase the availability of basic telephone access equipment to individuals with all types of disabilities by supporting successful legislation that removed application fees for the specialized telecommunications assistance program and which increased program marketing and outreach activities.

Electronic & Information Technology

Section 508 | Federal | State Initiatives | Web Accessibility

  • Section 508
  • Federal

    Access Board | National Council on Disability | National Telecommunications and Information Administration

    Access Board
    • Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act
      This site provides links to the law, the standards, the Federal Acquisition Regulation on Section 508, frequently asked questions, background, and more.
    National Council on Disability (NCD)
    • Assistive Technology Policy in Telecommunications and Information Technology
      A section of the report Federal Policy Barriers to Assistive Technology, National Council on Disability (May 31, 2000). The overarching barriers that limit access to assistive technology (AT) are lack of awareness, lack of access to expertise, and lack of funding. The report covers AT policy in education, employment, health care, telecommunications and information technology, and alternative financing.
    National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS)
    Department of Education's Office of Special Education Programs has awarded CAST two five-year Cooperative Agreements to establish two national centers to further develop and implement the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS). NIMAS guides the production and electronic distribution of digital versions of textbooks and other instructional materials so they can be more easily converted into accessible formats.
    NIMAS Technical Specification Published for Comment, Federal Register Notice- June 29, 2005

    National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)
    • A Nation Online: How Americans Are Expanding Their Use of the Internet, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), February 2002.
      Few technologies have spread as quickly, or become so widely used, as computers and the Internet. These information technologies are rapidly becoming common fixtures of modern social and economic life, opening opportunities and new avenues for many Americans. NTIA's (National Telecommunications and Information Administration) latest report shows the rapidly growing use of new information technologies across all demographic groups and geographic regions. Not only are many more Americans using the Internet and computers at home, they are also using them at work, school, and other locations for an expanding variety of purposes. In the last few years, Americans' use of the Internet and computers has grown substantially.
      Note: Chapter 7: Computer and Internet Use Among People with Disabilities expands on the most recent NTIA report.
    State Initiatives Web Accessibility

    Policy | Tools

    • ADA and the Internet (February 9, 2000)
      House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution Oversight Hearing.
    • Policy Letter of Assistant Attorney General, Deval L. Patrick, to Senator Tom Harkin Regarding the ADA Applying to the Internet (September 9, 1996)
      "Covered entities under the ADA are required to provide effective communication, regardless of whether they generally communicate through print media, audio media, or computerized media such as the Internet. Covered entities that use the Internet for communications regarding their programs, goods, or services must be prepared to offer those communications through accessible means as well."
    • World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) User Agent Accessibility Guidelines (W3C Proposed Recommendation 16 October 2002)
      This document provides guidelines for designing user agents that lower barriers to web accessibility for people with disabilities User agents include HTML browsers and other types of software that retrieve and render web content. A user agent that conforms to these guidelines will promote accessibility through its own user interface and through other internal facilities, including its ability to communicate with other technologies (especially assistive technologies). Furthermore, all users, not just users with disabilities, are expected to find conforming user agents to be more usable.
      In addition to helping developers of HTML browsers and media players, this document will also benefit developers of assistive technologies because it explains what types of information and control an assistive technology may expect from a conforming user agent. Technologies not addressed directly by this document (e.g., technologies for braille rendering) will be essential to ensuring web access for some users with disabilities.
    • W3C HTML Validation Service
      A free service that checks documents like HTML and XHTML for conformance to W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) recommendations and other standards.
    • Web Accessibility & Disability Resources in Spanish and Portuguese
      An International Center on Disability Resources on the Internet (ICDRI) portal designed to provide information related to individuals with disabilities in Spanish and English for all Latin American countries.

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The National Assistive Technology Technical Assistance Partnership is a cooperative agreement between the U.S. Department of Education and RESNA. The grant (Grant #H224B050003; CFDA 84.224B) is funded under the Assistive Technology Act of 1998, as amended and administered by the Rehabilitation Services Administration, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services at the U.S. Department of Education.

This website is developed with grant funds. The information contained on these pages does not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the U.S. Department of Education or the Grantee and no official endorsement of the information should be inferred.