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February 2012 Technology and Disability Policy Highlights

This month the Department of Justice issued new ADA Standards for Accessible Design. The standards revise regulations for both Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and ensure accessibility of “newly designed and constructed or altered State and local government facilities, public accommodations, and commercial facilities.” The new standards will become effective March 15, 2012.

Regulatory activities this month included a Report and Order (R&O) and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) released by the FCC “In the Matter of Lifeline and Link Up Reform and Modernization” [WC Docket No. 11-42] “Lifeline and Link Up” [WC Docket No. 03-109] “Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service” [CC Docket No. 96-45] and “Advancing Broadband Availability Through Digital Literacy Training” [WC Docket No. 12-23].  The main goals of the R&O are to eliminate fraud and waste within the Lifeline program as well as to modernize the program. The FNPRM seeks comment on certain aspects of the future developments under consideration, including the features of proposed digital literacy classes and a proposed reorganization of the Lifeline reimbursement system. This month John Bryson, U.S. Commerce Secretary, released the 2013 Department of Commerce budget request. While the request mainly focuses on funding for multiple initiatives aimed toward manufacturing, increasing U.S. exports, and job creation, it also includes implications for wireless technologies and broadband enhancement. Specifically, funding has been requested for the National Institute of Science and Technology to create a Wireless Innovation (WIN) fund to develop new technology and standards for public safety communications. Lastly, this month Eve Hill the Department of Justice’s Senior Counselor to the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, testified before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions concerning current and future accessible technologies. Hill’s testimony highlighted multiple technological accessibility barriers; however, the testimony also included the many regulatory actions that are being taken to correct these and other disparities.

*The above is an overview of this month's issue.  To access the full content, please view either of the attachments below.

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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.