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August 2015 Technology and Disability Policy Highlights

In August, The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced the development of a communications platform to establish interoperability standards for all two-way video communications providers. An FCC news release regarding the platform indicated that it will enable people who are deaf, hard of hearing and deaf-blind to converse with businesses and government agencies using American Sign Language (ASL).  The beta version will be available in late 2015, and final version, in spring 2016.

At the 2015 Telecommunications for the Deaf, Inc. (TDI) Biennial Conference, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler discussed how difficulties experienced by the people with disabilities could be addressed using broadband enabled technology. He stated, “It is time for people who speak with their hands and hear with their eyes to enjoy modern advancements in communications technologies. It’s time for you to be able to have your video products work together, so you can call whomever you wish, whenever you wish, from anywhere. The platform we are launching has tremendous potential to ensure that you will be able to do this.”

The 2015 edition of Tips for Emergency Use of Mobile Devices, by Disability Policy Consultant, June Isaacson Kailes was released.  It provides guidelines for optimal use of your mobile device before, during and after an emergency. It covers emergency contacts, alerts, texting, documents, apps, power back-up charging options, bookmarks, “No Service” backup plans, skill drills and more. 

The Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies (G3ict), in collaboration with AT&T, announced the release of Internet of Things: New Promises for Person with Disabilities. According to the press release, both networks and devices have had recent developments that have enabled a greater range of connected devices and Internet of Things (IoT) functionalities and the report explores the impact of IoT on persons with disabilities.

Several App updates were also announced.  The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), AccessWorld, app has a new, more accessible version available on the iTunes store. Nuance Communications, Inc. announced plans to launch the new Dragon Anywhere app that brings advanced dictation capabilities to phones, tablets, and desktops. Access and Evacu8 are collaborating on developing an app that will function as an aid for emergency egress of both people with and those without disabilities, as well as, everyday indoor navigation tool.

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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.