Certain recordkeeping rules adopted by the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) to implement the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (“CVAA”) go into effect today. These requirements apply to all entities subject to sections 255, 716, and 718 of the Communications Act, including:
- Manufacturers of telecommunications equipment and certain mobile telephones;
- Providers of telecommunications services and certain mobile services;
- Providers of advanced communications services including Voice over Internet Protocol (“VoIP”), electronic messaging, and video conferencing; and
- Manufacturers of equipment that is used for these advanced communications services and providers of software that assists in the use of such services.
These businesses must, beginning on January 30, 2013, maintain records of their internal efforts to implement sections 255, 716, and 718 of the Communications Act. For example, section 255 requires that telecommunications equipment manufacturers design their equipment and that service providers design their services to be accessible to and usable by users with disabilities. Section 716 mandates similar requirements for the manufacturers, software providers, and service providers of advanced communications services. In a Public Notice released on January 29, 2013, the FCC provided some examples of the sort of records that must be kept as of January 30:
- Information about the manufacturer’s or provider’s efforts to consult with individuals with disabilities;
- Descriptions of the accessibility features of its products and services; and
- Information about the compatibility of such products and services with peripheral devices or specialized customer premise equipment commonly used by individuals with disabilities to achieve access.
Other requirements of the Commission’s rules implementing the CVAA will go into effect throughout the year. By April 1, 2013, affected businesses must certify that they are in compliance with the recordkeeping requirements and provide contact information for complaints regarding accessibility. Several of the rules specifying that certain products and services must actually be accessible become effective on October 8, 2013, though the rules already require that accessibility be considered as early as possible during the development of those products and services. In addition, small entities are exempt from some of the recordkeeping requirements until October 8, 2013.