Microsoft Word version of November 2008 - Wireless RERC

Document Sample
Microsoft Word version of November 2008 - Wireless RERC Powered By Docstoc
					                                     TECHNOLOGY AND DISABILITY POLICY HIGHLIGHTS 8.10
                                                                                          November 2008


Legislative and policy activities slowed somewhat during the month of November, as national attention
was directed toward the 2008 Presidential election. In this month’s issue of the TDPH, we highlight
several developments related to the election and impending changes in the national government.
Among them, the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) issued a report that discussed some
key priorities regarding telecommunications and technology for people with disabilities in preparation
for the presidential transition and 111th Congress. In addition, several National Public Radio (NPR)
affiliates, in collaboration with key research partners, hosted a historic test of captioned radio on
election night. The successful event anticipates the possibility that deaf and hard of hearing
individuals might be able to participate more fully in receiving radio broadcasts in future.

Other developments were directed mainly at the pending digital television (DTV) transition, now less
than three months away. The Senate unanimously passed a bill that would extend analog broadcasts
for 30 days after the DTV deadline on February 19, 2009. The broadcasts would enable those who
failed to make the transition successfully to receive important public safety announcements and
information on the steps required to receive DTV programming. In addition, the Federal
Communications Commission (FCC) adopted a rulemaking to clarify closed captioning rules for DTV.
Finally, the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) undertook an evaluation of DTV converter box
accessibility for the blind and individuals with visual impairments.

Click the headings below to link directly to a particular section.

Legislative ActivitiesCCD Report: "Disability Policy Recommendations for Presidential Transition and
111th Congress


Regulatory Activities
Other Items of Interest
Wireless RERC Updates
Upcoming Events

Legislative Activities

Bill to Extend Analog Broadcasts for One Month Passed in Senate
11.20.2008 – The Senate unanimously passed the “Short-term Analog Flash and Emergency
Readiness Act” [S. 3663]. Sponsored by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-
ND), the bill would provide a short-term extension of analog television broadcasting in order to
provide crucial public safety announcements and information on the digital television (DTV) transition.
The 30-day extension is designed for the benefit of those individuals who failed to successfully make
the transition from analog to digital television reception, in order to provide them with crucial
emergency information during that time and inform them of the steps they will need to take in order
to receive television programming again.

Sen. Rockefeller explained that he introduced the bill out of a belief that the nation was still not
completely ready to make the transition to digital broadcasting on February 19, 2009, and that a stop-
gap measure was needed to deal with possible consumer confusion associated with the DTV transition.
A similar bill has also been introduced in the House, but it has not yet been up for a vote.
[Source: Library of Congress]

Additional Information:
Text of S. 3663

Disability Policy Recommendations Released for Presidential Transition and 111th Congress
11.17.2008 – The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) has released a report entitled
“Disability Policy Recommendations for Presidential Transition and 111 th Congress,” in anticipation of
the upcoming changes in the leadership of the federal government. Founded in 1973, the CCD is a
coalition of over 100 national consumer, advocacy, provider, and professional organizations that works
to advocate for “federal disability policy that ensures the self determination, independence,
empowerment, productivity, integration, and inclusion of children and adults with disabilities in all
aspects of society.”

The report, which is organized alphabetically by topic, contains a section on telecommunications and
technology policy. The CCD notes that federal statutes with technology provisions for people with
disabilities “have not been fully appropriated or implemented, or need revision and updating in light of
new technologies or medical coding practices.” The Coalition also contends that “policies that act as

barriers to accessible, usable, and affordable technology for people with disabilities must be removed.”
In line with this broad position, the CCD has identified 16 specific priorities it believes legislators and
policymakers should consider. Among the most important considerations are the transport of assistive
technology (AT) in emergency planning and response protocols, reimbursement plans for lost or
damaged AT as part of emergency relief packages, and the incorporation of the technology needs of
people with disabilities in training for federally-funded agencies and first responders.
[Source: Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities]

Additional Information:
CCD Report: "Disability Policy Recommendations for Presidential Transition and 111th Congress

Regulatory Activities

Closed Captioning Rulemaking for DTV Released by FCC
11.07.2008 – The FCC adopted and released a Declaratory Ruling, Order, and Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking (FCC 08-255) regarding the closed captioning of DTV for the benefit of all Americans,
including those who are deaf and hard of hearing. In the Declaratory Ruling, the FCC clarified a
number of points related to the obligations of video programming distributors to provide closed
captioned digital programming under Section 713 of the Communications Act. In particular, the
Commission ruled that, barring a specific exemption, all digital programming, including high definition
(HD) programming, must be captioned according to the benchmarks for that type of programming.
There is no “digital exemption” to the obligation to caption digital programming.

In its Order, the FCC amended its rules to provide for more efficient complaint processes and methods
for consumers to contact video programming distributors with concerns about closed captioning.
Finally, the Commission requests comment on how the FCC should proceed regarding Section
79.1(d)(12) of its rules establishing very specific guidelines for the exemption of certain channels
from closed captioning requirements.
[Source: FCC]

Additional Information:
Declaratory Ruling, Order & NPRM regarding Closed Captioning for DTV (MS Word and PDF available)

David Capozzi Named Executive Director of Access Board
11.24.2008 - David M. Capozzi was named the new Executive Director of the federal Access Board at
its most recent meeting. Members of the Board approved the selection in a unanimous vote. Capozzi,

previously the Director of the Board's Office of Technical and Information Services for over 16 years,
succeeds Lawrence W. Roffee, who retired in August. Capozzi had served as Acting Executive Director
in the interim. Prior to joining the Board in 1992, Capozzi worked at the National Easter Seals Society
as vice president of advocacy and director of Project ACTION. He also served as national advocacy
director at the Paralyzed Veterans of America.

In his remarks to the Board following its vote, Capozzi expressed his pride at being named the Board’s
new director and vowed to work to meet and exceed members’ expectations. Observing that while
the Access Board has made many accomplishments over the years, he conceded that much remained
to be done. In particular, Capozzi noted, “I have a vision of a higher performing agency that will grow
to meet the demands of our complex society, and I look forward to working with all of you to tackle
some important issues in the coming years.”
[Source: Access Board]

Additional Information:
Access Board Press Release

White Spaces to Be Opened for Broadband Internet Use, FCC Rules
11.04.2008 – The FCC voted unanimously on its Second Report and Order [FCC 08-260] that would
permit use of empty airwaves in the broadcast spectrum, called “white spaces,” for services such as
free wireless Internet, after concluding that such applications would not cause interference for
surrounding services. As reported in last month’s TDPH, major wireless carriers such as T-Mobile,
Verizon, and AT&T have countered that opening this portion of the spectrum will, in fact, interfere with
their own broadband services operating in the adjacent spectrum. Likewise, a coalition of interested
parties, including broadcasters, Broadway theater producers and sports franchises, also argued
against the FCC’s decision. They have claimed that their own transmissions, either from television
signals or from wireless microphones used in live music performances, could face interference from
new devices that use the white spaces. Nevertheless, the FCC responded that enough testing had
been done to assure them that interference was not a major risk. In making its decision, the
Commission pointed to the potential of white spaces to increase broadband access and better help to
serve those constituents, including people with disabilities, who rely on wireless Internet services.
[Sources: FCC and New York Times]

Additional Information:
FCC's Second Report & Order on Use of White Spaces

Other Items of Interest

AFB Article Focuses on DTV Transition for People with Visual Impairments
11.01.2008 – The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) has published an article in this past
month’s issue of AccessWorld entitled “TV or Not TV: The Accessibility of Digital Television Converter
Boxes.” The article seeks to alleviate some of the fear and confusion associated with the mandated
conversion to DTV by discussing precisely who will be affected and the availability of coupons from the
federal government to offset the cost of converter boxes for those who may need them. Of greater
interest to the blind and individuals with visual impairments is an evaluation of the accessibility of
converter boxes available in retail stores. AFB TECH purchased converter boxes from four retailers:
Best Buy, Circuit City, Wal-Mart, and Radio Shack. Each store had one box available for purchase,
with manufacturers including Digital Stream, Insignia, Zenith, and Magnavox.

In its assessment of the four converter boxes, the AFB TECH group considered the initial setup
process, access to the menu system, pass-through of video description, and the tactile nature of the
remote control. In addition, consideration was given to compatibility with “smart antennas” and the
accessibility of the documentation included with each box. The evaluation team found that none of
the boxes performed optimally and it faulted the National Telecommunications and Information
Administration (NTIA), in particular, for many problems: “These converter boxes were not designed
the way we would have preferred them to be, and some features are not accessible at all. However,
they can be used effectively after some initial assistance from a sighted person with the setup
process. That being said, it is obvious that NTIA did not consider people with visual impairments when
it set the standards for these boxes and really does not get it when it comes to accessibility for people
who are blind or have low vision.” Despite the low marks from the evaluation team, it was noted that
boxes would still work, but that assistance from a sighted individual in the initial setup process might
be required.
[Source: American Foundation for the Blind]

Additional Information:
TV or Not TV: The Accessibility of Digital Television Converter Boxes

Captioned Radio Highlighted During Election Night, Results Successful
11.04.2008 - On election night 2008, National Public Radio (NPR) undertook the first nationwide test
of “captioned radio” for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals. For the first time ever, hearing and deaf
audiences had simultaneous access to the same live radio broadcast. While radio for the deaf may
seem paradoxical, the captioned broadcast was made possible via a live scrolling transcript of a radio
broadcast that can be displayed on a webpage or on screens in specially equipped HD radio receivers.
NPR and Boston station WGBH’s Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family National Center for Accessible Media

hosted the election night captioned broadcast, which was developed through a joint effort between
NPR, Harris Corporation, Towson University, and WGBH. The election broadcast was the latest event
coordinated by the International Center for Accessible Radio Technology (ICART), which was launched
earlier this year and is headquartered at Towson University in Towson, Maryland.

On election night, November 4, between 8-11 p.m. ET, WGBH’s Media Access Group’s stenocaptioners
monitored NPR's live coverage to create instantaneous speech-to-text transcriptions. These
transcriptions were routed to NPR in Washington, D.C., which then transmitted the feed via the Public
Radio Satellite System to KCFR Denver, WAMU D.C., WGBH Boston, and WTMD Baltimore, as well as a
captioning demonstration page on These HD transmissions were picked up by receivers
placed at live private demonstrations being held at KCFR, WTMD, WGBH, and, through WAMU’s HD
transmission, at NPR’s DC headquarters. At each live demonstration, closed to the general public, deaf
and hard-of-hearing individuals viewed different representations of captioned radio via the HD
broadcast and web distribution and rated the usefulness of the experience. Responses to surveys
indicated that captioned radio could become a popular broadcast format for deaf and hard-of-hearing
users: 95 percent of participants were happy with the level of captioning accuracy, a crucial aspect
for readability and comprehension. Seventy-seven (77) percent said they would be interested in
purchasing a captioned radio display unit when it becomes available, while 86 percent indicated they
would be interested in purchasing a 'dual-view' screen display for a car (which would enable a deaf
passenger to see the captioned radio text while the driver listens to the radio).
[Sources: National Public Radio, Portland Business Journal, and ICART]

Additional Information:
International Center for Accessible Radio Technology

Press Release Regarding Election Night Captioned Radio Test

Wireless RERC Updates

Collaborative Policy Networks Working Paper Released by CACP, Wireless RERC
10.01.2008 - A newly issued working paper by CACP, in collaboration with the Wireless and Workplace
Accommodations RERCs, addresses key factors and practices that can be used to develop a set of
virtual interactive tools which support a community of practice focusing on disability and technology
policy. It probes online contexts that can leverage the research, academic, and advocacy nodes of the
disability community into effectual policy-making. It also provides a brief review of three distinct
bodies of literature: policy networks, online social networking, and communities of practice.

Additional Information:
Baker, Dickson & Moon, "Collaborative Policy Networks: Coordinating Disability and Technology Policy”

Save the Date! Wireless RERC State of the Technology Conference Planning Underway
9.18.2008 – The Wireless Emergency Communications State of the Technology (SOT) Conference has
been scheduled for September 21-23, 2009, in Atlanta, Georgia. This event will bring together
stakeholders in a think tank environment to examine the potential of wireless communications
technology for improving support and assistance for persons with disabilities before, during and after a
natural or manmade disaster.

The Wireless RERC is currently seeking input on the selection of important topics and potential
speakers for plenary sessions and workshops. The target audience is the wireless industry,
emergency management and public safety officials, broadcast and cable industry, individuals with
disabilities, disability organizations, and researchers working on issues of emergency communications.

For further information and/or to submit recommendations contact:

Salimah LaForce
Conference Coordinator
404-894-8297 (office)
404-791-9692 (mobile)

Upcoming Events

Call for Papers and Presentations: NARRTC 2009 Annual Conference
The National Association of Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers (NARRTC) has released a Call
for Papers and Presentations for its upcoming 2009 Annual Conference. All NIDRR grantees are
invited to submit a paper and present at the upcoming conference. Presentations can be based on new
evidence and insights gained through such NIDRR grant work. In particular, conference organizers
are looking for submissions that engage the following topic areas:
       Establishing Best Practices in Disability and Rehabilitation
       Knowledge Translation Research Findings and Needs
       Qualitative Disability Research Data Analysis
       Rigor and Relevance of Disability Research Evidence
       Strategies for Using Research Evidence in Policies and Practices

         Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Disability and Rehabilitation Research
         Value and Relevance of High Quality Single Case Study Design

The conference is scheduled for May 4-5, 2009, at the Holiday Inn National Airport Hotel, in
Arlington, Virginia. The theme of the upcoming conference will be “Better Research, Better
Evidence, Better Practice,” to be presented through plenary and concurrent sessions. For more
information on the conference, including the submission requirements, selection criteria, proposal
instructions, obligation of presenters, location, and registration, please visit the below website. The
deadline to respond to the Call for Papers and Presentations is December 15, 2008.

Additional Information:
NARRTC 2009 Annual Conference

DTV Transition
On February 17, 2008, all full-power broadcast television stations in the United States will stop
broadcasting on analog airwaves and begin broadcasting only in digital.

Additional Information:
What is DTV?
Converter Box Coupon Program

i-CREATe 2009
Th e Third International Convention on Rehabilitation Engineering & Assistive Technology (iCREATe)
2009 will be held in Singapore, April 22-26, 2009. The convention promotes aging and disability
technologies. This year’s theme is “Accessible Tourism” centered on universal design and assistive
technologies introduced in the environment. The convention includes a three day exhibition and a
student design challenge.

Additional Information:
Conference Website

                                                                                  TECHNOLOGY AND DISABILITY POLICY HIGHLIGHTS 8.10
                                                                                                                        November 2008

Technology and Disability Policy Highlights reports on national and local public policy events and recent wireless technological
advances and political activities; and tracks emerging issues of interest to individuals with disabilities. Technology and Disability

Policy Highlights is published monthly by the Wireless RERC. The Wireless RERC is a research center promotes universal access to
wireless technologies and explores their innovative applications in addressing the needs of people with disabilities. For more
information on the Wireless RERC, please visit our web site at [].

For further information on items summarized in this report, or if you have items of interest that you would like included in future
editions, please contact this edition’s editor, Nathan W. Moon [] or Paul M.A. Baker, Ph.D., AICP,
CACP Director of Research [].

This is a publication of the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center for Wireless Technologies supported by the National Institute
on Disability and Rehabilitation Research of the U.S. Department of Education, grant # H133E060061. The opinions contained in
this publication are those of the grantee and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Education.