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Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Telecommunications

Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Telecommunications

Editor: The Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Telecommunications (COAT) is an advocacy group working to ensure that emerging and expanding telecommunications technologies will remain accessible to people with disabilities. They began with national organizations and are now expanding to include local organizations that support this mission. If your organization would like to join, please email Karen Peltz Strauss at kpsconsulting@starpower.net. Give her the name of your organization and the name and contact information for the appropriate head of the organization.

Here’s their press release.


Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Telecommunications Launched For Full Disability Access in the 21st Century

Get your COAT! Today, a new coalition of disability organizations was launched to advocate for legislative and regulatory safeguards that will ensure full access by people with disabilities to evolving high speed broadband, wireless and other Internet protocol (IP) technologies. The Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology, or “COAT,” consists of over 45 national, regional, and community-based organizations dedicated to making sure that as our nation migrates from legacy public switched-based telecommunications to more versatile and innovative IP-based and other communication technologies, people with disabilities will not be left behind.

Emerging digital and Internet-based technologies can provide people with disabilities with new opportunities for greater independence, integration, and privacy, but only if these are designed to be accessible. The guiding principle of this Coalition will be to ensure the full inclusion of people with disabilities in all aspects of daily living through accessible, affordable and usable communication technologies as these continue to evolve. To this end, and in order to achieve equal access in the 21st century, COAT has identified the following initial broad objectives:

* Extend current disability protections under Sections 255 and 710 of the Communications Act to IP technologies with improved accountability and enforcement measures, to ensure more accessibility, usability and interoperability for all persons with disabilities, including persons who are aging.

* Expand the scope of devices that must transmit and display closed captions under the Decoder Circuitry Act from the present requirement of television sets with screens that are 13 inches or larger to video devices of all sizes, including recording and playback devices, that are designed to receive or display digital and Internet programming.

* Apply existing captioning obligations under Section 713 of the Communications Act to IPTV and other types of multi-channel video programming services that are commercially distributed over the Internet.

* Restore the video description rules originally promulgated by the FCC in 2000 (overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit) and ensure that this access continues in the transition to digital television programming.

* Extend existing relay service obligations under Section 225 of the Communications Act to VoIP providers (i.e., extend the obligation to contribute to the interstate relay fund that supports these services), including obligations for greater outreach to consumers.

* Require accessible interfaces on video programming and playback devices, such as televisions, VCRs, and DVD players.

* Ensure that people with disabilities have equivalent access to emergency information through identification of barriers and implementation of solutions in current and new technologies, including solutions for achieving access by people with disabilities to 911 emergency PSAPs through the receipt of text and video.

* Ensure universal service fund availability for persons with disabilities (e.g., Lifeline/Link-up programs), to increase the number of people with disabilities as broadband users.

The above objectives were recommended in a report released by the National Council on Disability: The Need for Federal Legislation and Regulation Prohibiting Telecommunications and Information Services Discrimination, available at http://www.ncd.gov/newsroom/publications/2006/discrimination.htm (released December 16, 2007).

COAT MEMBERS as of March 12, 2007

National organizations

Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Alliance for Technology Access
American Association of People with Disabilities
American Association of the Deaf-Blind
American Council of the Blind
American Deafness and Rehabilitation Association
American Foundation for the Blind
American Society for Deaf Children
Assistive Technology Industry Association
Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs
Association of Late-Deafened Adults
Communication Service for the Deaf
Conference of Educational Administrators of Schools and Programs for the Deaf
Deafness Research Foundation
Deaf Seniors of America
Gallaudet University
Gallaudet University Alumni Association
Hearing Loss Association of America
Helen Keller National Center
Inclusive Technologies
International Center for Disability Resources on the Internet
National Association for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments
National Association of the Deaf
National Black Deaf Advocates
National Catholic Office of the Deaf
National Court Reporters Association
National Cued Speech Association
Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf
Speech Communication Assistance by Telephone, Inc.
Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc.
USA Deaf Sports Federation
WGBH Media Access Group
World Institute on Disability

Regional and Community-Based Organizations

Association of Late Deafened Adults, East Bay – Northern California
Center on Deafness – Inland Empire
Deaf and Hard of Hearing Service Center, Inc. Fresno
Deaf and Hard of Hearing Service Center, Inc. Roanoke, Virginia
Deaf Community Services of San Diego, Inc.
Deaf Counseling, Advocacy and Referral Agency, San Leandro
Greater Los Angeles Agency on Deafness
Hearing Loss of Northwest Indiana Support Group for Hoosiers
Northern California Center on Deafness
North Carolina Governor’s Advocacy Council for Persons with Disabilities
Northern Virginia Resource Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons
Orange County Deaf Equal Access Foundation
Roanoke Valley Club of the Deaf
San Diego – Hearing Loss Network
Tri-County GLAD