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[Fwd: Don't settle for POTS. Demand Access To PANS!]

From: William Loughborough <love26@gorge.net>
Date: Sat, 20 Jun 1998 07:05:42 -0700
Message-ID: <358BC1B6.FF45D63B@gorge.net>
To: "w3c-wai-ig@w3.org" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
I deplore spam at least as much as the rest of us on this list but
because we are in this thing (accessibility for people with disabilities
to communications media) together I forward this call for action.

This rule-making process the FCC is going through will result in either
a "brave new world" or an awful lot of near-impossible retrofitting. 
The results will impact heavily on the Web as well as general telephony.
I know it's tedious to participate in this kind of seemingly unrewarding
activity but if we can exponentialize an effort to make inclusion
fundamental to all FCC actions, we will save a lot of downstream

attached mail follows:

                   Justice For All


     Don't settle for POTS.  Demand Access To PANS! 

Urgent: Write FCC On Telcom Access Rules Enforcement before June 30!

Key Messages To FCC.  See Details Below.

1. Support the full adoption of the Access Board Guidelines! 

2. Oppose the "cost recovery" concept. 

3. Don't settle for POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) 
   when everyone else will have access to PANS 
   (Pretty Awesome New Stuff).  

4. Support a complaint process with no filing fees and no time limits; 
   and allow complaints in alternative format; and require accessible
   company contact points.  

Action needed by 6/30/98
Your comments will make an awesome difference!!
ALERT RE: FCC's rules proposing to enforce Section 255 of Telcom Act

We need your help on a very important matter.  
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently issued 
rules proposing to enforce Section 255 of the Telecommunications 
Act.  Section 255 requires all telecommunications manufacturers 
and service providers to make their products and services 
accessible to people with disabilities.  Many of the proposals 
issued by the FCC, if adopted in final form, would have a 
negative impact on access.  For this reason, we are asking you 
to send in comments to the FCC on a number of issues raised in 
the FCC proposal.

The FCC is making decisions that will have a tremendous impact 
on the accessibility of telephone equipment and services for 
many years to come.

Have you or someone you know encountered barriers to using the 
telephone because:

 You are blind and don't have access to key information provided 
  on a telephone's visual display?

 You are deaf and important information is provided only in 
  auditory format?  

 You have a mobility impairment and small buttons are difficult
  to manipulate?

 You have a cognitive disability and rapid-fire automated voice
  menu systems are difficult to follow?

 You have a speech disability and are frequently disconnected 
  when phone systems "time out"?

 You have a disability that makes using the telephone a challenge?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, THE FCC NEEDS TO 

Tell the FCC how important telecommunications access is to you.  
Make sure that the final rules released by the FCC are strong 
enough to truly make a difference in the way you can use 

We have set out below the key issues that your comments should address.

Comments are due by June 30, 1998.

Reply comments (this means you will have the opportunity to also 
reply to responses to the comments made by others) are due by August 14.

Send an original (and preferably 5 copies) of your comments to:

Federal Communications Commission
Office of the Secretary,
1919 M Street, NW, Room 222
Washington, D.C.  20554.

You may also file your comments electronically through the electronic
interface on the FCC's World Wide Web site at
Additional information on submitting comments electronically is 
available at that location and at http://www.fcc.gov/e-file/

Here are the issues we recommend you discuss in your comments:

1.  Access Board Guidelines
Background:   In the Telecommunications Act, Congress gave the 
Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access 
Board) the primary authority to write accessibility guidelines for 
telecommunications equipment manufacturers.  Congress also gave the 
FCC the authority to enforce those guidelines, and to enforce the 
requirements of Section 255 for telecommunications service providers.   

Last year, the Access Board did issue guidelines, which are both 
fair and would go a long way toward achieving access to 
products.  Among other things, the guidelines suggest ways for the 
manufacturers to achieve access in the design of their products and 
require product information and instructions to be accessible to people 
with disabilities.   Unfortunately, it is not clear in the FCC's 
proposed rules whether the FCC intends to adopt the Access Board 

Your Comments:  It is VERY IMPORTANT for you to urge the FCC to adopt 
the Access Board Section 255 guidelines for both manufacturers and 
service providers.  In your letter to the FCC, you should say that 
these guidelines are needed to provide clear guidance on the obligations 
of companies to make their products and services accessible.  You may 
also want to explain why telecommunications access is important to you
 - e.g., in your job, to access family members and friends, etc.  It 
would help if you can describe how the denial of such access has 
affected you.

2.  Readily Achievable

Background:  The Americans with Disabilities (ADA) requires certain 
buildings to be accessible if achieving such access is "readily 
achievable."  The term "readily achievable" has a long history to it, 
and for the most part involves a balancing of the costs of providing 
access with the overall financial resources of the company must provide 
such access.  Congress adopted the "readily achievable" concept in 
Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act.  Specifically, Section 255 
requires telecommunications providers and manufacturers to provide 
access where it is readily achievable to do so.  In its proposed rules, 
the FCC has proposed to define readily achievable in a manner that is 
very different from the way that it was defined in the ADA.

Among other things, the FCC wants to allow companies to be able to consider
whether they will be able to recover the costs of providing access, and the
extent to which they will be able to market an accessible product.  These
factors may allow a company to get out of its access obligations merely
because the market for certain accessible products may be smaller.  This goes
against the whole purpose of Section 255.  Section 255 was intended to 
access to people with disabilities because market forces alone were not 
to ensure that access.  Allowing a company to consider whether it will 
the costs of achieving such access has never been permitted under other 
disability laws.

Your Comments: Tell the FCC that you oppose allowing companies to 
the extent to which the costs of providing access will be recovered.  
Tell the FCC that allowing this as a "readily achievable" factor would 
defeat the purposes of Section 255.  The only reason we needed an 
accessibility law such as Section 255 is because the market did not 
respond to the needs of people with disabilities. 

You may use examples ? e.g., the fact that you still do not have access 
to many telecommunications services, including voice mail, interactive 
telephone systems, call forwarding, etc.  Ask the FCC to follow the 
definition of "readily achievable" as it had been defined in the ADA.

3.  Enhanced Services
Background:  The FCC?s proposed rules do not cover "enhanced services" 
under Section 255 because these are considered "information," not 
"telecommunications" services.  Enhanced services generally include 
more advanced telecommunications services, such as voice mail, 
electronic mail, interactive voice response systems (which use 
telephone prompts), and audiotext information.  Many of these services 
have become commonplace; yet they remain inaccessible to people who 
are deaf and hard of hearing.  We believe that Congress could not have 
intended to eliminate these very important and widely used services 
from the scope of Section 255.  The whole purpose of Section 255 was 
to expand telecommunications access.  If these services are excluded,
then people with a variety of disabilities will remain second class 
citizens with respect to new telecommunications technological advances.

Your Comments:  Here, it would be very helpful for you to write about 
the problems that you have had trying to access voice mail, interactive 
telephone systems, and other types of more advanced telecommunications 

Some possible examples:

- Is there a piece of telephone equipment that you, as a blind person, 
can't use because key information is available only on a visual display?

- Is there an item that you, as someone who is deaf, cannot use because 
crucial status or content information is conveyed only by auditory means?

- Is there a product with intricate buttons that you, as an individual 
with motor or dexterity limitations, cannot operate?

- Is there a telecommunications service that you, as a person with a 
cognitive disability, cannot access because the voice menu goes by so 
fast there is no time to write down or remember the options?

Is there a device that defaults or "times out" too quickly for you, 
because of a physical limitation, to enter the necessary response or 

And if none of these are problems for you today, are any likely to be 
when you get older?  If your answer to any of these questions is "yes,"
or if the answer is "yes" for someone you know or care about, or if you 
have ever had to pass up a good job or not hire a promising candidate 
because you couldn't figure out how the phone would be used as 
effectively as the work required, then telecommunications access is 
no longer a remote abstraction in your life.

Indeed, telecommunications have already had a major impact on the 
ability and opportunity for people with disabilities to learn, work, 
and participate in the community.  Moreover, just as telecommunications 
is becoming increasingly important in the lives of Americans generally, 
so also is its significance in the lives of people with disabilities 
destined to grow.

Explain that if these services are not required to be accessible, you 
will continue to have fewer employment opportunities, and that you will 
not be able to fully participate in today?s society.  Urge the FCC to 
cover "enhanced services," because coverage of these services is critical 
to full telecommunications access.

4.  Complaint Process
The FCC will enforce Section 255 with a complaint process.  Support the 
following proposals by the FCC:

- There should be no filing fees for informal or formal complaints with 
the FCC against either manufacturers or service providers.  Waiving these 
fees would be in the public interest.

- There should not be any time limit for filing complaints, because one 
never knows when he or she will discover that a product or service is 

- Consumers with disabilities should be able to submit complaints by 
any accessible means available.

- Manufacturers and service providers should be required to establish 
contact points in their companies that are accessible to consumers 
with disabilities.

Thank you for assisting us in this effort to educate the FCC about the 
telecommunications needs of people with disabilities.

For more info:

If reading the entire NPRM is a bit overwhelming, there is a summary
prepared by the National Association of the Deaf is available at:

JFA previously distributed the NCD analysis, which is 
available at http://www/mailbot.com/justice:
AN UPDATE FOR CONSUMERS By the National Council on Disability
Marca Bristo, Chairperson, June 5, 1998
Also available at : http://www.empowermentzone.com/ed255.txt

The entire NPRM is available in text,WordPerfect, and PDF
formats from the web site of the FCC available at:

If you need assistance in writing your comments or if you have questions:
Contact: Betsy Bayha, betsy@wid.org
Phone:   (510) 251-4355  Fax: (510) 763-4109, 
Director, Technology Policy, World Institue on Disability
510 Sixteenth Street, Suite 100, Oakland, CA  94612

This alert was adapted from NAD comments, by June Kailes, Betsy Bayha
and Fred Fay.

Thanks to all who have already written!
June Isaacson Kailes           310.821.7080
310.827.0269 FAX
Disability Policy Consultant   jik@pacbell.net
June's website                 http://www.jik.com

Fred Fay
Justice-For-All Moderator
End of Document
Received on Saturday, 20 June 1998 10:09:34 UTC

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