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July 2013 Technology and Disability Policy Highlights

In July the Student Success Act [H.R. 5] was approved by the House of Representatives. The bill, which would reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, works to reduce “the federal role in education” through State level academic and teacher assessments in addition to providing State-level grants to promote education for specific populations, such as students with limited English proficiency or students in rural areas. The Assistance in Gaining Experience, Independence, and Navigation Act of 2013 [S.1259] (AGE-IN Act) was introduced by Senator Robert Menéndez.  The bill aims to fund research and promote services for transition aged youth with autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disabilities.

In regulatory news, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released the 2013-2014 funding allocations for those entities eligible to receive support and reimbursements under the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program (NDBEDP) and also adopted new per-minute compensation rates for all telecommunications relay services (TRS), which will take effect as early as August 1, 2013.  In addition, the FCC adopted new rules for speech-to-speech TRS to increase the minimum time a communication assistant is to remain with a call and offer users the option to mute their voice to other parties on the call.

Commemorating the 23rd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) FCC Acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn addressed the FCC highlighting the positive impacts made by both the ADA and Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA). Further expanding access for people with disabilities, Clyburn noted that the CVAA has enhanced the availability of closed caption and video description services, while providing accessible communication devices for people who are deaf-blind and allowing for easier access to “accessible communications products and services through the Commission’s new accessibility clearinghouse.”

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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.