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FCC To Launch Accessibility Forum at ADA Celebration

July 16 2010 | by

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For the rest of the month I’ll be devoting some of my blog to announcing nationwide events that are taking place to celebrate the American with Disabilities Act’s 20th anniversary.

The Federal Communications Commission is inviting the public to mark the American with Disabilities Act’s 20th anniversary in Washington. On July 19, the FCC will hold a Technology Showcase from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Commerce Department Main Foyer. More than 50 exhibitors have been invited to demonstrate their accessible technologies.

Also, an ADA Celebration Program in the Commerce Department Auditorium from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m will include welcoming remarks from FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, presentation of an original video chronicling personal stories about the impact of technology on people with disabilities, performances by Gallaudet University performers, and a reception.

The FCC will introduce a new forum to discuss accessibility issues for people with disabilities. The Accessibility and Innovation Forum is designed to promote collaborative problem-solving between the disability community, industry, academics, government representatives, third-party developers, innovators, students, and assistive technology vendors, according to an FCC press release.

The forum will include workshops, field events, facilitated dialogues, and online tools, including blog posts covering a wide range of communication technology access issues. It will also include the “Chairman’s AAA Awards,” Awards for Advancements in Accessibility. The first of these awards will be given out on the next anniversary of the ADA to recognize efforts in the private and public sector — as well as public-private partnerships — that advance accessibility, the FCC says.

Launching a forum this year is significant due to high-profile telecommunications issues being discussed in Washington that related to access and affordability for Americans with disabilities. In March, the FCC submitted a National Broadband Plan to Congress that detailed how it would aim to addresses disabilities and access issues.

In its most ambitious recommendation, the FCC says it will work with Congress and the Justice Department to “modernize” accessibility laws to cover Internet Protocol (IP)-based communications and video-programming technologies. Simply put, to make sure Internet services and equipment, smart phones and tablets are accessible. The FCC also says it will consider requiring captions on Internet devices and services for the deaf, and audio descriptions for the blind. These features have been required since 1990s on television, but not for web programming, like Hulu and Netflix.

Both the Technology Expo and the ADA Program are free and open to the public and press. Sign language interpreters and computer aided real-time transcription (CART) will be provided.

For the rest of the month I’ll be devoting some of my blog to announcing nationwide events that are taking place to celebrate the American with Disabilities Act’s 20th anniversary.

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  4. Innovative Ideas from the Disability Forum
  5. Amazon Kindle 2 Fails Accessibility Test

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