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July 2014 Technology and Disability Policy Highlights

With July marking the 24th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the President took steps to accelerate employment opportunities for people with disabilities by signing the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) [H.R. 803].  Among other things, the Act includes provisions to enhance pre-employment transition services for youth with disabilities, which will work to provide additional support as students navigate the transition from school to the workforce.   In the days following the signing of WIOA, President Obama signed a Presidential Proclamation that acknowledged that there is still work to be done to expand access to community living, healthcare, and employment for people with disabilities.

Not to be outdone by legislative action, regulators also took steps to uphold the tenets of the ADA.  The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) commemorated the anniversary of the ADA with a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking requesting input on the provision of closed captions and audio description in movie theaters. The DOJ also resolved its investigation of Hubbard, Oregon’s alleged violations of Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  The Settlement Agreement reads, “The United States alleges that the City has engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination under the ADA by requiring applicants to disclose disabilities and/or medical information in their applications prior to making a conditional offer of employment.”

In efforts to ensure access to online content, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced new sanctions extending closed captioning for online video content, including: “straight lift” clips, montages, live and near-live television programming. Program distributors will be required to provide closed captioning for online video-clips of programming that originally appeared on television.  Regarding parity of access to emergency information, the FCC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Matter of Review of the Emergency Alert System [EB Docket No. 04-296], invites stakeholders to comment on issues identified following the first nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) on November 9, 2011, including the introduction of standards regarding the crawl speed, completeness and placement of text information and the need to ensure that audio and visual information provide identical information.

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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.