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October 2013 Technology and Disability Policy Highlights

In October, rules pursuant to Sections 204 and 205 of the CVAA went into effect requiring navigation devices and other digital apparatus used to receive or play back video programming to be accessible to people with visual and auditory disabilities.  The rules require audio output for all essential functions needed for video reception and playback while also requiring a button, key or icon for consumers to easily access closed captioning or video description, depending on the device.  The rules also require covered entities to inform consumers of the availability of accessible devices while also setting a three-year compliance deadline for covered entities.  Additionally, the FCC issued a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) seeking comment on the adoption of additional rules to define the term “usable” in relation to Section 204 and whether rules should be adopted to require secondary audio streams, which may carry accessible public safety information, to be activated by a “mechanism reasonably comparable to a button, key or icon.”  In a Public Notice, the FCC invited interested parties to submit applications to become certified “to distribute equipment under the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program (NDBEDP) to qualifying residents in Mississippi” following the decision of The Arch of Mississippi to withdraw from the program.

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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.