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FCC October 19 Open Meeting to Consider Several Accessibility Items (Online – Open to the Public)

October 10, 2023
Source: Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

On September 28, 2023, FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel announced a tentative agenda for the October 2023 Open Meeting scheduled for 10:30 am (Eastern time) on Thursday, October 19, 2023.  The meeting will be held in the Commission Meeting Room of the FCC, 45 L Street N.E., Washington, D.C.  The FCC meeting is also online, and streamed live with open captioning at www.fcc.gov/live.

As part of the agenda, the Commission will consider:

1.  A draft Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that seeks comment on proposed rules for safeguarding and securing the open Internet,

2.  A draft Report and Order that would require participating mobile service providers to improve the accessibility of Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs) to people who do not speak English or Spanish as a primary language, and to people with disabilities, and

3.  A draft Second Report and Order that would phase in audio description requirements for an additional ten markets each year until all markets are covered.

What the draft Open Internet NPRM would do:

  • Reestablish the Commission’s authority over broadband Internet access service (BIAS) by classifying it as a telecommunications service under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. 
  • Regarding accessibility for individuals with disabilities, seek comment on how the proposed reclassification of BIAS would affect:
    • The availability and performance of IP-based telecommunications relay services (TRS);
    • The FCC’s authority to ensure that individuals with disabilities can communicate using IP-based services such as video communications and electronic messaging services, IP equipment, and mobile browsers;
    • The requirement that Internet service providers (ISPs) comply with certain sections of the Communications Act (Sections 225, 255, and 251(a)(2)), and associated FCC rules, which advance access for persons with disabilities, and the Commission’s proposal to forbear from (that is, refrain from) applying TRS Fund contribution requirements;
    • Past analyses and conclusions that the Communications Act, as amended by the Twenty-First Century Video and Communications Accessibility Act (CVAA), provides the FCC with authority to ensure that consumers with disabilities can access broadband networks regardless of whether BIAS is classified as telecommunications service or information service.
    • Emergency communications and public safety of persons with disabilities by preventing the degradation of latency-sensitive and data-intensive applications;
    • IP-based home health monitoring systems and other connected systems for individuals with disabilities;
    • The implementation and enforcement of other laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act, designed to protect individuals with disabilities.

The draft Open Internet NPRM also asks about the accessibility of ISPs’ website disclosures.  Are more requirements needed to ensure accessibility?  Should ISPs be encouraged to use the Web Accessibility Initiative guidance?

What the draft Improving WEA Report and Order would do:

  • Require participating wireless providers to support multilingual WEA through the use of WEA template messages translated into the thirteen most commonly spoken languages in the United States, and in American Sign Language (ASL) in addition to English, and to allow consumers to opt-in to receive ASL alerts.
  • Require WEA-capable mobile devices to include location-aware maps to personalize alerts for consumers, and encourage the inclusion of map textual descriptions to ensure the accessibility of such maps to screen readers.

What the draft Audio Description Second Report and Order would do:

  • Phase in the audio description requirements for an additional ten Designated Market Areas (DMAs) each year, beginning with DMAs 101 through 110 on January 1, 2025, and concluding with DMAs 201 through 210 on January 1, 2035.

News Release with Agenda for October 19, 2023 Open Meeting:
URL:  https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DOC-397307A1.pdf

Draft Open Internet NPRM:
URL:  https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DOC-397309A1.pdf

Draft Improving WEA Report and Order:
URL:  https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DOC-397319A1.pdf

Draft Accessible Video Programming Report and Order:
URL:  https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DOC-397321A1.pdf

More information about the October 19 meeting: https://www.fcc.gov/news-events/events/2023/10/october-2023-open-commission-meeting

Reasonable Accommodations: Open captioning will be provided for this event.  Other reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities are available upon request.  In your request, include a description of the accommodation you will need and a way we can contact you if we need more information.  Last minute requests will be accepted but may be impossible to fill.  Send an e-mail to: fcc504@fcc.gov or call the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530.

For more information about the Open Internet proceeding, contact the Wireline Competition Bureau at OpenInternet2023@fcc.gov.  For more information about the Improving WEA Report and Order, contact Michael Antonino, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, at (202) 418-7965 or by email to Michael.Antonino@fcc.gov.  For more information about the Accessible Video Programming Second Report and Order, contact Diana Sokolow, Media Bureau, at (202) 418-2120 or by email at Diana.Sokolow@fcc.gov.  Individuals who use videophones and are fluent in American Sign Language (ASL) may call the FCC’s ASL Consumer Support Line at (844) 432-2275 (videophone).

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