February Disability Issues – Budget, Delta Settlement and FCC

Februarie Image of Two Men from Alex BellosJust a quick February update.  There’s been quite  lot going on.  Below are a few areas I’d like to lightly touch on (with some informational links) before going into them in more depth during the next few weeks.  I also have on my upcoming blog-list a note to look at the Medicaid issues we’re seeing in state after state for people with disabilities and how they’re tied to fiscal activities here in Washington.

1.  The President’s Budget and how it Impacts Disability

As some of you may know, every month, the White House hosts a call on disability issues.  It is free and open although it is firmly off the record and not open to press.  However, one of the positive elements that came out of the most recent February 15th call was the creation of a quick-and-dirty budget fact sheet.  I have to admit, that I think there really is more detailed information (both positive and negative) that is NOT in this summary.  But it is a good place to start.  You can check it out here:  http://content.govdelivery.com/attachments/USEOPWHPO/2011/02/15/file_attachments/16878/2012_Disability_Fact_Sheet.pdf

2.  Department of Transportation and Delta Airlines – The Dust-up, the Settlement and the End of an Era?  Maybe not.

Although it didn’t make as big a splash in the mainstream media as many folks with disabilities would have liked to have seen, the result of DOT action against Delta Airlines for disability discrimination has been very visible in the disability blogosphere.  I hope to do my own analysis but in the interim, Scott Rains has a great article collecting a variety of sources that you can read here:  http://www.rollingrains.com/2011/02/end-of-story-summary-sailing-through-the-blogoshere-with-delta-airlines.html.  And if you have a moment, check out the rest of his site.  He is probably one of the best authorities you will ever meet on the concept of accessible tourism and has a wealth of knowledge on accessible travel.  If he doesn’t know it, he knows someone who does.

3.  The Federal Communications Commisson (FCC) and their very busy February.

Due by the middle of the month, the FCC had sought comments on rules relating to the hearing aid compatibility of wireless handsets and evaluating the 2010 hearing aid compatibility rules.  They were also recruiting members for its Consumer Advisory Committee. This Committee makes recommendations on issues including telecommunications relay services, hearing aid compatibility, video description, closed captioning and other accessibility issues.   Other issues are still open and pending including:  The February 17, 2011, FCC call for information about new and off-the-shelf technologies that can be used to access Video Relay Service (VRS), such as Skype, Apple Facetime, etc.  Which I think is really exciting.  And on March 3, 2011, FCC Open Meeting to discuss two Notices of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRMs) pertaining to the recently passed 21st Century Communications & Video Accessibility Act (“21stCVAA”). The Advanced Communications Services NPRM requiring providers and manufacturers of advanced communications services/equipment to make their products accessible to people with disabilities and my personal favorite and something I had worked on several years ago, the Video Description NPRM to reinstate the video description rules adopted by the Commission in 2000.