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March 2012 Technology and Disability Policy Highlights

This month, U.S. Congressman Edward J. Markey (D-MA), introduced new legislation, The Prescription Drug Labeling Promotion Act of 2012 [H.R. 4087], regarding making information on drug labels accessible to people who are blind or have low vision. The legislation called for a working group to develop best practices, such as the use of Braille or “talking bottles” to ensure the accessibility of prescription drug labels.

In the regulatory arena, FEMA requested comments on four new working drafts of the National Planning Frameworks. The drafts, which included the Prevention, Mitigation, Response and Recovery Frameworks, outline the roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders and further highlight how preparedness efforts should be coordinated across stakeholders.  The FCC issued a Small Entity Compliance Guide  “intended to help small entities comply with new rules adopted” in the Accessibility Act Report and Order (R&O) and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) implementing provisions of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 [WT Docket No. 96-198; CG Docket No. 10-213; CG Docket No. 10-145]. In addition, the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau of the FCC announced that commercial mobile service providers have until May 15, 2012 to begin notifying new customers and existing subscribers if they have elected not to transmit CMAS messages, either in whole or in part. The FCC also issued an Order In the Matter of Implementation of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010, Section 105, Relay Services for Deaf-Blind Individuals [CG Docket No. 10-210] which changed the reimbursement schedules for entities participating in the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program (NDBEDP) from the current six months to either one, three, or six month schedules.  The Office of Public Engagement has asked for stakeholders to submit comments on a strategic plan for implementation and management of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, which establishes standards for various accessibility aspects of Information and Communication Technology. Specifically, the Office of Public Engagement is asking stakeholders to comment on specific components of the strategic plan including “improving the management of Section 508, and increasing transparency, accountability and compliance.”  Lastly, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, hosted a workshop for industry leaders “to develop the ways the industry and states can meet their challenge to move all K-12 schools to interactive digital textbooks in the next five years.”  The workshop discussed various aspects of implementing digital textbooks including state policies, implementation policies for K-12 schools, and the development of market ready digital textbooks.

*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.