Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

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Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

The FCC addresses a variety of disability-related telecommunications matters, including telecommunications relay service, access to telecommunications equipment and services for people with disabilities, access to emergency information and closed captioning. The FCC also provides expert advice and assistance to consumers, industry and others on issues relevant to people with disabilities. The FCC initiates rulemakings for the development of disability policy, conforming with existing disability laws and policies and supporting the goal of increasing accessibility of communications services and technologies.

Source: www.fcc.gov

FCC Seeks Consumer Input on Emergency Alerting

January 30, 2018

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is looking for consumer feedback from those impacted by two recent Emergency Alert System (EAS) events.

Nationwide EAS Test
On September 27, 2017 the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in coordination with the FCC, conducted a mandatory nationwide test of the EAS. The purpose of the test was to ensure that the EAS remains an effective means of warning the public about emergencies. Periodic testing of public alert and warning systems helps to assess the operational readiness of alerting infrastructure, and to identify any needed technological and administrative improvements.

Emergency Alerts must be displayed, whether as a crawl or block text:

  • at the top of the TV screen or where it will not interfere with other visual messages
  • in a manner (font size, color, contrast, location and speed) that is readable and understandable
  • with no overlapping lines of EAS text
  • in full at least once during any EAS message.

To submit comments:

  1. Go to go fcc.gov/general/public-safety-support-center
  2. Click the link titled “Public Safety Reporting.”
  3. In the drop-down menu, choose “EAS Test Public Feedback.”
  4. Fill out the form that appears and click “Submit” at the end of the form.

Please be sure to provide feedback to the FCC if you recall any problems viewing the EAS alert.

EAS False Emergency Alert in Hawaii
More recently, on January 13 a false emergency alert of an imminent missile attack was broadcast to homes and cellphones of the residents of Hawaii using the EAS. The incident caused widespread public panic and was worsened by the fact that it took 38 minutes to issue a correction alert. The FCC is conducting a full investigation and is welcoming any information that will assist them in this effort.

To submit comments send an email that contains as much detail as possible to Linda Pintro of the Public Safety Homeland Security Bureau at linda.pintro@fcc.gov. Please copy Will Schell (will.schell@fcc.gov) and Suzy Rosen Singleton (suzanne.singleton@fcc.gov) of the Disability Rights Office of the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau. 

Specifically, it would be beneficial if your summary could include:

  • Name and contact information
  • Details of what you experienced
  • How the alert was received (e.g., phone, TV, radio, or other)
  • The phone carrier and model of phone that received the alert
  • Whether you received a follow-up message
  • How you discovered the message was a false alert
  • Any recommendations you have for best practices for alerting individuals with disabilities in this specific context.

If you were affected by either of these alerts and have information or recommendations to share, the FCC wants to hear from you. Please note the deadline for submission is February 9, 2018.

Should you have any questions, please contact Maureen McCarthy of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau at maureen.mccarthy@fcc.gov, or Will Schell of the Disability Rights Office of the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau at will.schell@fcc.gov.

Why Can Uber Locate Me, but 911 Can’t?

February 7, 2017

Few services are as important to Americans with a hearing loss as the ability to
call for help in an emergency and to be quickly found by first responders. Yet, according to a 2015 USA Today article, the chances of 911 getting a quick fix on your location range anywhere from 10 to 95 percent.

CTIA recently published a blog post and infographic intended to answer the question on many minds, “Why can Uber locate me, but 911 can’t?” The blog explains why 911 location accuracy is a complex system and how the wireless industry is working to harness opportunities offered by commercial location-based services to enhance wireless 911 location accuracy indoors. The infographic provides some interesting statistics and gives a good visual representation of the complexities of location accuracy.

HLAA Joins Panel on Accessible Wireless Emergency Communications on November 7 – Free and Open to the Public

November 4, 2014

HLAA will join a panel discussion regarding accessible wireless emergency communication at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) forum on November 7 to promote the latest advances in accessible wireless emergency communications, including text-to-911. The event will engage technology designers, engineers and policy makers to raise awareness of the needs of people with disabilities prior to developing devices and services that can be used in and during emergencies, with the goal of saving more lives and enabling quicker responses to natural and manmade disasters. More information is available from the FCC.

November 7, 2014, 9 a.m. - 3:15 p.m. EST
FCC Headquarters
445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C.

HLAA Signs onto Comments Regarding the Emergency Alert System

August 18, 2014

HLAA signed on to Comments filed with the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) by Consumer Groups Friday, August 14, 2014 regarding the Emergency Alerting System (EAS). In the FCC’s NPRM (Notice of Proposed Rule Making), the Commission seeks specific comments on what actions it should take to strengthen the capabilities and capacities of EAS. These issues were identified as a result of the first-ever Nationwide EAS test in November 2011 that transmitted an Emergency Action Notice (EAN) to EAS participants across the country. Consumer Groups sent in comments regarding the lack access to captioning or other visual access during the testing of EAS in November, 2011, and recommendations that include making the text crawl more readable and understandable for all emergency alerts.

Read our Comments [View PDF]

Breaking News: FCC Chair Announces Acceleration of Nationwide Text to 911

December 7, 2012

Washington, D.C. – FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski announced today that the nation’s four largest wireless carriers – AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile – have agreed to accelerate the availability of text-to-911, with major deployments expected in 2013 and a commitment to nationwide availability by May 15, 2014. Building on text-to-911 deployments and trials that are already underway, this agreement will accelerate progress and ensure that over 90 percent of the nation’s wireless consumers, including millions of consumers with hearing or speech disabilities, will be able to access emergency services by sending a text message to 911, where local 911 call centers (known as a Public Safety Answering Points, or PSAPs) are also prepared to receive the texts.

Read the news release [View PDF]

FCC, FEMA Unveil Emergency Text Messaging System

May 17, 2011

Washington, D.C., New York, NY – Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski, Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator W. Craig Fugate, top executives from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon and others convened at the World Trade Center site May 10, 2011 to announce PLAN--the Personal Localized Alerting Network. PLAN is a free service that will allow customers with an enabled mobile device to receive geographically-targeted, text-like messages alerting them of imminent threats to safety in their area. This service will be available in New York City by the end of 2011, at least two calendar quarters before the rest of the nation.

PLAN ensures that emergency alerts will not get stalled by user congestion, which can happen with standard mobile voice and texting services. Authorized government officials can send messages, which participating wireless providers then push using their cell towers to enabled mobile devices in a targeted geographic area.

Read the news release [View PDF]

HLAA & the Communications, Security, Reliability & Interoperability Council (CSRIC)

April 2, 2010

Operating under the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Public Safety & Homeland Security Bureau, the Communications Security, Reliability, and Interoperability Council’s (CSRIC) mission is to provide recommendations to the FCC to ensure, among other things, optimal security and reliability of communications systems, including telecommunications, media, and public safety. HLAA was represented by Lise Hamlin at the March 22 meeting of CSRIC. At that meeting, we learned about the national broadband plan and public safety, heard a report from local media (television broadcasters and radio) regarding their coverage of the last winter storms in the DC area, and we heard a report on the National Communications System Next Generation Priority Services. Webcasts of FCC meetings are archived and typically provided with open captions. However, the last meeting does not have captions. HLAA will be taking part in CSRIC’s subcommittee working on Access to the Next Generation of 9-1-1 for people with disabilities.

HLAA Attends the First Meeting of the FCC’s CSRIC

December 11, 2009

On Monday, December 7, 2009, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) brought together the 55 members of the newly chartered Communications Security, Reliability and Interoperability Council (CSRIC). FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and FCC Commissioners Michael J. Copps, Robert M. McDowell and Mignon Clyburn attended and provided opening remarks at this first meeting.

Operating under the auspices of the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, the CSRIC’s purpose is to provide recommendations to the FCC to ensure optimal security, reliability, and interoperability of communications systems, including public safety, telecommunications, and media communications.

HLAA Joins the Federal Communications Commission’s CSRIC

November 1, 2009

HLAA has been invited to join the Federal Communication Commissions’ (FCC) newly forming Communications Security, Reliability, and Interoperability Council (CSRIC). The Public Notice announcing your appointment to the Council was released October 26. The first meeting of the CSRIC will be on Monday, December 7, 2009 at FCC headquarters in Washington, DC.