Americans with disabilities will be the focus of an October workshop on national broadband, Broadband Accessibility for People with Disabilities: Barriers, Opportunities, and Policy Recommendations, held by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the US communications Regulator.
The workshop builds on a previous workshop, Broadband Opportunities for Individuals with Disabilities, held in August 2009.
The workshop will bring together interested parties from the disability community, industry and governments at all levels. The goal of the workshop is to determine:
accessibility and affordability barriers faced by people with disabilities in accessing broadband capabilities;
opportunities that broadband can present for people with disabilities; and
policy recommendations to address the barriers to broadband for people with disabilities and maximize the opportunities related to broadband for people with disabilities.
It will guide the development of the national broadband plan which is part of a broader effort directed by Congress under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act 2009 (the Act).
The workshop will fulfill part of the FCC's role under the Act to provide:
an analysis of the most effective and efficient mechanism for ensuring broadband access by all people of the United States;
a detailed strategy for achieving affordability of such service and maximum utilization of broadband infrastructure and service by the public;
an evaluation of the status of deployment of broadband service; and
a plan for use of broadband infrastructure and services in advancing national purposes, including those related to health care, education, public safety and homeland security, job creation/worker training, and civic participation/community development.
The FCC approach is commendable for seeking the input of people with disabilities prior to the release of the national broadband plan. In Australia, neither ACMA, the comparable Australian regulator, nor the DBCDE, the Federal department of communications, has undertaken comparable consultation before deploying the national broadband network.
The Accessibility for People with Disabilities: Barriers, Opportunities, and Policy Recommendations workshop takes place on 20 October 2009. More information on the workshop is available from hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-09-2080A1.pdf