The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released an order waiving the disabilities access compliance requirements for a distinct, narrow class of e-readers for an additional year – until January 28, 2016.   

Last January, the FCC granted a request filed by the Coalition of E-Reader Manufacturers (“Coalition”) seeking a waiver of the Commission’s disabilities access rules as applied to e-readers, which was set to expire today.  See our blog post from January 28, 2014.  Today’s order extends the waiver for one year, but denies the Coalition’s request for a permanent waiver. 

In extending the waiver, the FCC found that e-readers remain capable of accessing advanced communications services (ACS), but the primary purpose of e-readers (text reading) has not changed.  This determination was based on an FCC analysis of the record and an independent review of the manufacturer marketing materials for e-readers.  However, the order noted that “if ACS features on the next generation of these devices are featured more prominently, and, for example, begin to be utilized regularly in education, employment, and as a tool of social integration, it is conceivable that mobile communication in the online e-reader environment may become a co-primary purpose of basic e-reader devices.”