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Innovation is one of the core drivers for advancement in accessibility for people with disabilities. The FCC Chair's Awards for Advancement in Accessibility (FCC Chair's AAA) is an FCC program recognizing products, services, standards and other innovative developments that improve the experience of people with disabilities in telecommunications and technology.

Virtual Awards Ceremony for 2021 FCC Chair's AAA

Webcast Video of 2021 Ceremony

The FCC hosted a virtual ceremony Dec. 1 to honor this year's winners of the FCC Chair's Award for Advancement in Accessibility (Chair's AAA). The ceremony featured a keynote address from FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel and acceptance speeches from each of the award winners. 

The previous awards have recognized groundbreaking innovations in technology and practices that improve access for people with disabilities. As a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic, telecommunications and remote access have become critically important to many aspects of our lives. The pandemic has also highlighted the vital role that telecommunications services and devices play in ensuring accessibility. This year, the FCC's Chair's AAA honored innovative practices, technologies, and organizations that have creatively leveraged communications and broadband technology during the pandemic, to break down accessibility barriers and ensure that people with disabilities are able to participate equally in our increasingly connected world. (Download the press release announcing FCC AAA winners.)

The 2021 Winners

Accessible Pharmacy Services for the Blind

This home delivery pharmacy launched in 2020, specializing in the needs of the blind and low vision community, with packaging available in braille, large print, and audio versions. Accessible Pharmacy Services provides options include RFID tags in medication bottles that pair with ScripTalk, an app that can read aloud medication information. The pharmacy offers COVID-19 at-home testing kits with accessible material, augmented by remote support for sample collection and results interpretation via the BeMyEyes app, which connects a sighted agent via video to assist the blind or low vision individual.

Website: https://www.accessiblepharmacy.com

Apple-iOS 14

Apple released a suite of accessibility features and upgrades to its mobile operation system iOS 14 that have particular importance in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • People Detection: A feature added to Apple's Magnifier app that detects nearby individuals and helps the user maintain physical distance per CDC guidance.
  • Sign Language Prominence: Detects a participant in a Group FaceTime call using sign language and automatically makes that video more prominent to aid in intelligibility.
  • Sound Recognition: Enables the Apple device to “listen” for specific sounds and alert the user when the selected sounds are heard.
  • VoiceOver Recognition: Upgrades the native screen reader functionality to detect and provide substantive description for elements in websites and apps.

Website: https://www.apple.com/accessibility/

Communication Service for the Deaf – COVID ASL Hotline

Communication Service for the Deaf's (CSD) Connect Direct subsidiary established an ASL-based COVID-19 hotline to make information directly available to deaf people in their native language. The hotline supports CSD's effort to provide accessible information about the ongoing pandemic to the deaf community via ASL videos and a comprehensive website.

Website: https://www.csd.org/coronavirus/

More About FCC Chair's AAA

The FCC Chair's AAA was first introduced in 2010 at the FCC's celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Since the first award ceremony in 2011, the FCC Chair's AAA has played a key role in FCC efforts to recognize technical advances that have made communications tools more accessible to people with disabilities.

For questions or inquiries about the FCC Chair's AAA please contact Deandrea Wilson (202-391-6266), Chantal Virgile (202-418-0056) or call the ASL Consumer Support Line at 1-844-432-2275 via videophone. Inquiries may also be sent to FCCAAA@fcc.gov.

Past Winners

Winners received a plaque from the FCC and are commemorated on a permanent plaque on display at FCC Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021