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Policy Approaches to Promote Access to Wireless Technologies

With the migration from old technologies to new and the seemingly exponential growth of newer technologies on the landscape, the wireless industry continues to charge forward with the release of services, devices and applications to corner a larger share of the marketplace.  Regulatory agencies realize that the release of new technology outpaces the regulatory process and are accelerating the pace of creating rules as well as soliciting greater public input into the process.  This understanding of the need to produce rules and regulations that encompass future technologies--the anticipated as well as the unknown--creates a greater burden on all stakeholders to stay engaged in the process.  Involvement in the “process” is a critical task of the Wireless RERC.  It is important to ensure that the accessibility provisions are broad enough to be applicable throughout the next century, yet contain enough detail to sufficiently guide industry as to compliance and the creation of accessible devices, software, and services.

This project provides substantive input into policymaking to help reduce barriers and accelerate adoption of accessible wireless products, services (including emergency alerts), and software applications.   Of particular interest is ensuring that people with disabilities who require non-voice communication (e.g., deaf, speech-disabled ) have equivalent access to emergency services, as analog-based communications are phased out in favor of 4th generation/ Internet Protocol (4G/IP)  technology.   Specific activities include:

  1. Conducting preparatory research and policy analysis relating to the needs of people with disabilities, accessibility, and migratory shifts from legacy, fixed technologies to higher-functionality next-generation wireless technologies.
  2. Participating in the federal rulemaking process with evidence-based filings in response to public policy rulemaking to inform the development of wireless technology policy and regulationsthat are inclusive of the needs of people with disabilities; particular attention is given to emergency communications, information, and services.
  3. Ongoing analysis of existing and proposed policies governing wireless technology and evaluation of  the impact of public policy to identify (a) gaps in efforts to ensure inclusive access to wireless technology and (b) opportunities to refine rules and regulations governing access to ICT.
  4. Communicating relevant technology policy findings to key stakeholders via the timely dissemination of information about issues related to accessibility of wireless technologies to strengthen collaborative efforts and increase input into the rulemaking process.

Project Team:

Project Partners and Collaborators: 

  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
  • Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
  • National Emergency Number Association (NENA) Accessibility Council
  • Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS)
  • CTIA-The Wireless Association
  • National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research logo
  • Center for Advanced Communications Policy logo
  • Georgia Institute of Technology logo
  •  Shepherd Center Logo

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The Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center for Wireless Technologies is sponsored by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under grant number 90RE5007-01-00. The opinions contained in this website are those of the Wireless RERC and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or NIDILRR.