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June 2013 Technology and Disability Policy Highlights

A new bill, Strengthening America’s Schools Act of 2013 [S.1094], was introduced in June by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions to revise the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965 of which No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was the last rewrite.  By allowing States the flexibility to institute their own college- and career-ready standards, performance targets, academic assessments, and accountability models, the bill’s sponsors hope to ensure all students are college and career ready. The bill proposes to integrate requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), student assessment standards, and provisions for universal design for technology and innovations used in schools.

In regulatory news, the FCC released a Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking outlining steps to reduce fraud and waste within the Video Relay Service (VRS) program.  The Report and Order introduces a single compensation rate, a national outreach program and a user registration database, while the FNPRM seeks comment on many aspects of the VRS program including compensation rates, research and development of VRS, functionality of 911 calls via VRS, and compliance with speed of answer requirements.  The FCC also issued an Order on Reconsideration and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) regarding the rules for the captioning of IP-delivered video programming for certain apparatus.  The Order and FNPRM clarify the definition of video player and grant waivers for apparatus that are not designed to transmit video programming, while extending compliance deadlines and seeking comment on compliance for DVD and Blu-Ray players. Finally, the FCC Media Bureau released a Public Notice seeking comment on video description rules. Specifically, the Media Bureau seeks comment on the availability and consumer usage of video description, the extent to which video description is being provided voluntarily, methods by which consumers are made aware of video description, and the costs, benefits and technical issues associated with providing video descriptions for video programming distributed on the internet.

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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.