(by Sanam Analouei, Colorado Law 2L)
As the United States embarks on the ambitious journey to transform its emergency service infrastructure with Next Generation 911 (NG911), I developed a white paper delving into the pressing accessibility concerns surrounding this life-saving system, especially for people who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, or Deaf Blind (D/HH, or DB). The white paper explores the promises and pitfalls of NG911, revealing a landscape fraught with unresolved issues that could leave people in the D/HH or DB community struggling to access vital emergency services. The paper is divided into two sections: pre and on-call issues and post-call concerns.
Continue reading “Canvassing the Current and New Accessibility Issues Arising from 911’s Transition to NG911”
(by Veronica Phifer, Colorado Law 2L)
Today, TLPC student attorneys Veronica Phifer, Tanner Kohfield, and Xelef Botan posted a white paper, developed in collaboration with the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), dispelling the urban legend that educational and health care institutions can avoid providing of third-party American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters and captioning services during videoconferences under the guise of protecting the privacy rights of people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or DeafBlind.
First, we explained that there is no generally applicable federal privacy law that applies in these contexts. Next, we explained that sectoral privacy laws do not prohibit the use of these services, and that even if these laws impacted the provision of these services, there are effective remedies. These remedies include entities requiring interpreters or closed caption providers to protect the privacy of a student or patient via contract, or, if all else fails, obtaining consent from a patient or a student to use these services.
(by Jackson McNeal, Colorado Law 2L)
Continue reading “FCC Approves Changes to Carceral Communications”
On September 29th, the FCC approved a Report and Order making substantive changes that improve access to relay services eligible for funding through the Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) for incarcerated people with disabilities, while also seeking comment on further reforms to expand the provision of communications services for incarcerated people with disabilities.
Today, the TLPC filed comments on behalf of its client, Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. (TDI), and a coalition of more than 20 accessibility advocacy and research organizations before the Federal Commmunications Commission. The comments urge the FCC to proceed with ensuring the accessibility and usability of video conferencing services by finalizing a decade-long pending rulemaking on the scope of “interoperable video conferencing services” governed by the FCC’s rules under the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act.
July 18, 2022 update: the TLPC filed reply comments on the same matter—see the bottom of the post.
With the assistance of John Jang, Peter Troupe, and Victoria Venzor, the TLPC filed comments and reply comments on behalf of our client, Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. (TDI) and a broad coalition of accessibility advocacy and research organizations urging the FCC to require improvements to the accessibility of closed captioning display settings. The comments and reply comments can be downloaded below.
Continue reading “TLPC Submits Comments and Reply Comments at FCC on Behalf of Accessibility Coalition”
(by Cameron Benavides, TLPC Student Attorney)
In consultation with HEARD and on behalf of our client Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. (TDI) and a coalition of numorous deaf and hard of hearing advocacy and research organizations, the TLPC filed comments and reply comments in the Federal Communications Commission’s pending proceeding on addressing the accessibility of communications systems in carceral facilities.
Continue reading “TLPC Submits Comments on Carceral Communications Accessibility for Accessibility Coalition”
(by Dakotah Hamilton, TLPC Student Attorney)
On June 7th, the TLPC and the Communications and Technology Law Clinic (CTLC) at Georgetown Law filed a comment on behalf of 22 accessibility advocacy and research organizations, including TLPC and CTLC client Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. (TDI), in response to the Federal Communications Commission’s public notice to revisit many of its rules under the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA). The comment, drafted by Professor Blake E. Reid, TLPC Director, and Professor Laura Moy, CTLC Director, with assistance from TLPC student attorneys Dakotah Hamilton, Rachel Hersch, and Scott Goodstein and CTLC staff attorney Michael Rosenbloom and student attorney Ellen Gardiner, comprehensively reviewed the past decade of FCC proceedings implementing the CVAA as well as some dating back to the Telecommunications Act of 1996, spanning more than two dozen dockets.
The comment identifies numorous specific priorities the FCC should consider for the accessibility of video programming, communications, and hearing device accessibility, including bolstering the availability of interpretation and captioning for video conferencing platforms and expanding captioning requirements for video distributed online. The comment also calls for dedicated inquiries into accessibility barriers facing people who are deaf or hard of hearing and have multiple disabilities, older people who are deaf or hard of hearing, and people who are deaf or hard of hearing and living on rural or tribal lands or in U.S. territories. The comment also urges the Commission to emphasize supervised multistakeholderism, centering the civil rights of people with disabilities, vigorous enforcement, and reporting to Congress.
(by Bethany Reece, Student Attorney)
Today the TLPC is releasing a white paper, prepared on behalf of and in collaboration with, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which chronicles New York’s experience in the early 2000s with the telecommunications lobby’s efforts to replace historic municipal telecom franchising regimes with a centralized state franchising system. Given the increased leverage that localized franchising authority can afford to municipalities, this paper considers whether New York’s choices with respect to its regulatory regime may influence its outcomes with respect to achieving its FiOS buildout objectives, economic parity of high-speed broadband access across areas of varying income strata, and enforcing agreements with telecommunications providers.
Continue reading “TLPC Releases White Paper for EFF Analyzing Municipal Rights of Way Franchising Authority in New York”
In consultation with Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. (TDI), the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), the American Council of the Blind (ACB), the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), and the Technology Access Program (TAP) at Gallaudet University, the TLPC and our sister Communications and Technology Law Clinic (CTLC) at Georgetown Law developed an overview of critical technology accessibility priorities for a new administration at the Federal Communications Commission. The overview encourages the transition team and the FCC to:
- Prioritize accessibility in agency leadership;
- Relocate the Disability Rights Office to a new Office of Civil Rights;
- Address videoconferencing accessibility problems in response to the pandemic;
- Get the Real-Time Text transition back on track;
- Bolster video programming accessibility; and
- Improve the accessibility of wireless handsets.
TLPC student attorneys Caitlin League, Michael Obregon, and Brandon Ward worked over the last month with a coalition of incarcerated deaf/disabled people and their advocates, consumer groups, including our client, Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. (TDI), and accessibility researchers to file comments in response to a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) soliciting input on rates charged to incarcerated people for the use of telecommunication devices. Carceral facilities, including prisons and jails, have long denied incarcerated people with communications disabilities access to functionally equivalent communications services and equipment and charged exorbitant rates to maintain crucial connections between incarcerated people and their families, loved ones, and legal representatives.
Because the transition of the phone system from analog to Internet Protocol networks has largely broken compatibility with teletypewriters (TTYs), many carceral facilities essentially provide no accessible services or equipment. Among other remedies, the comments urge the FCC to require that inmate calling services (ICS) facilitate the provision of accessible services, including video relay service and Internet Protocol Captioned Telephone Service (IP CTS) and equipment, including videophones and captioned telephones, to carceral facilities.