FCC Round-Up: Call for Video Conferencing Accessibility Comments; Disability Advisory Committee Meeting Set

Aug 23 2023 VITAC
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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is accepting comments on its plan to require video conferencing platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Webex to comply with accessibility rules under the Communications Act. Comments on the proposed requirements will be accepted until Sept. 6. Replies to those comments will be accepted until Oct. 6.

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

The FCC announced its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in June, citing concerns over inconsistent accessibility features on remote conferencing platforms that hinder access for users with disabilities. Those inconsistent accessibility features, the commission says, include a lack of ─ or inferior ─ captioning, ineffective display of sign language interpreters, an inability for blind or low-vision users to find and use volume controls, and insufficient user control of accessibility tools.

The FCC is seeking comment on, among other things:

  • Specific performance objectives for improving the accessibility of video conferencing services, such as for captioning (speech-to-text) capabilities; text-to-speech capabilities; and enabling the use of sign language interpreting.
  • Whether additional performance objectives are needed (for example, to support individuals with other types of disabilities or to enable users to control the activation and appearance of accessibility features).
  • Rules for integration of Telecommunications Relay Services (TRS) with video conferencing without a dial-up telephone connection.

How to Comment

Comments can be filed using the FCC’s Electronic Comment Filing System. All filings should reference CG Docket Nos. 23-161, 10-213, 03-123. People with disabilities who need assistance to file comments online may request assistance by email to FCC504@fcc.gov

Disability Advisory Committee Meets Next Month

The FCC’s next Disability Advisory Committee (DAC) meeting will be held on Thursday, Sept. 7, at 9 AM ET. Committee members are expected to discuss a report on transmitting audio description files to Internet Protocol programming and a recommendation on Direct Video Calling best practices and outreach. A full agenda will be posted on the DAC’s webpage.

The meeting will be held at the FCC’s Washington, D.C., headquarters. It’s open to the public and webcast with open captioning at https://www.fcc.gov/live.

Heather York, VITAC’s Vice President, Marketing and Government Affairs, is a current member of the DAC and has served on four of the past five Disability Advisory Committees.