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September 2012 Technology and Disability Policy Highlights

In September the U.S. House of Representatives voted unanimously to pass the FEMA Reauthorization Act of 2012 [H.R. 2903] which will codify the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) as law.  Once signed into law, H.R. 2903 would strengthen the body of laws related to parity of access to emergency information by people with disabilities.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) held a Consumer Advisory Committee meeting to hear recommendations made by working groups on topics such as broadband adoption, outreach regarding the Lifeline program, and the disability complaints process.

Though the consumer complaints process is one channel for addressing noncompliance with disability access rules, another avenue is referral by the appropriate FCC Bureau.  This was the case when HTC Corporation in 2009, came under investigation for “hearing-aid compatible handset deployment violations.” After years of inspections, assertions and negotiations, a consent decree was entered into by the Enforcement Bureau of the FCC and HTC in September.

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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.