Access for People with Disabilities

Background

People with all types of disabilities benefit from access to data and communications technology. This includes sensory, physical, speech-related, and cognitive disabilities. For some, though, using the telephone or other technology can be difficult. Federal law requires telecommunications equipment manufacturers and service providers to make their products and services accessible to people with disabilities. If access is not “readily achievable,” the law requires that devices and services be compatible to the extent possible with the specialized equipment commonly used by people with disabilities. 

For example, in 2008, the Federal Communications Commission mandated that consumers with hearing and speech disabilities must have access to a telephone network that is “functionally equivalent” to voice telephone services. 

ACCESS FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES: Policy

ACCESS FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES: Policy

Ensuring access

The Federal Communications Commission should conduct oversight and enforcement to ensure access to technological advancements for people with disabilities. 

Technological advancements should benefit people with all types of disabilities, including sensory, physical, speech-related, and cognitive disabilities. 

The Federal Communications Commission should develop standards to ensure that advances in telecommunications services and networks are designed to be affordable and accessible to people with disabilities. Representatives of the disability community should consult on any efforts. The Department of Justice should enforce these standards.