Monday, November 21, 2005

Disability Groups Call for Telecom Legislation for Access to Broadband Services

The National Association of the Deaf (NAD), the American Foundation for the Blind other disability groups is calling upon Congress to enact legislation mandating disability access to Internet-based communication services.

The groups are urging that any updates to the Telecom Act include disabled access provisions for all services.

Kelby Brick, NAD Director of Law and Advocacy, said: "People with disabilities use communications technologies every day that were not even in existence at the time our nation's communications laws were last amended. The 1996 Telecommunications Act did not contemplate instant messaging, email, video relay, peer-to-peer video or such handheld devices as the Firefly and the Tictalk.

"Although the 1996 Act contained disability provisions for access to telecommunications products and services, it was mainly limited to those used with the public switched telephone network, not the Internet. As a result, people with disabilities will only gain equal access to today's communications infrastructure and services if Congress acts to extend these protections to Internet-enabled products and services."

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