On Monday, May 23, 2016, the Consumer and Government Affairs Bureau (CGB or Bureau) of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) released a Public Notice seeking comment on the state of compliance with the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA) and the FCC regulations implementing the law. The comments will be used to prepare the third biennial report to Congress on CVAA compliance. The report will assess compliance by telecommunications carriers, VoIP providers, providers of advance communications services (ACS) and manufacturers of equipment for such services, including mobile phones. More specifically, the Commission seeks comment from interested parties on whether the services and devices covered are “accessible,” the degree to which manufacturers and providers are including people with disabilities in product design and market research, and the extent to which entities are working with disability-related organizations, among other questions. The report will also include the extent to which accessibility barriers remain with respect to new communication technologies and the impact of the recordkeeping and enforcement provisions on the development and deployment of new communications technologies.
Comments are due to the Bureau by June 22, 2016. The Commission will use these comments to inform tentative findings, which will then be open for another round of public comment. The report to Congress is due by October 8, 2016.
Section 255 governs accessibility requirements for telecommunications and interconnected VoIP service providers and equipment manufacturers. Section 716 applies to non-interconnected VoIP services, advanced communications services (e.g., electronic messaging services and interoperable video conferencing services), and the manufacturers of devices for these services. Section 718 requires Internet browsers on mobile phones to be accessible to the blind and visually impaired. Section 717 contains recordkeeping and enforcement obligations applied to entities covered by sections 255, 716, and 718.
In addition to telecommunications, advanced communications services, and Internet browser technologies, the Commission seeks comment on accessibility barriers to “new communications technologies,” that are both within and outside the scope of the Act. The 2012 CVAA Report expressed an expectation that many accessibility barriers to new communications technologies would likely be addressed by compliance with the requirements under section 716 and 718, and the Commission now seeks comment on the extent to which that expectation has been met, and what barriers remain.