March 21, 2014 - 3:11 pm
By Jamal Mazrui | Deputy Director, Accessibility and Innovation Initiative

*The deadline for nominations for Chairman’s AAA has been extended from March 31 to April 15. This blog post has been edited to reflect the deadline change.

One of the most cherished missions of the FCC is helping to bridge the accessibility gap in communications technologies. Entrusted by Congress with various regulatory responsibilities intended to raise the baseline level of accessibility found in communication technologies and advanced services enabled by the
Internet, the FCC in recent years has developed additional non-regulatory approaches to buoy its efforts to achieve these goals. To that end, the Accessibility and Innovation (A&I) Initiative was created to promote collaborative problem-solving on
accessibility among academic, industry, consumer and government
sectors.  A signature project of the A&I Initiative is the Chairman's Awards for Advancement in Accessibility (Chairman's AAA) to recognize innovators for contributions to accessible technology.

The FCC is now accepting nominations for the third Chairman's AAA. The deadline for submissions is Tuesday, April 15.

AAA nominations may be for mainstream or assistive technology, a developed standard or best practice, a free offering or commercial product produced by an individual or organization, whether nonprofit, business or government, anywhere in the world.  It must have been introduced, or substantially upgraded, in the market between August 1, 2012 and December 31, 2013.  Self-nominations and nominations by others are welcome

This year we invite nominations in the following seven categories:

Advanced Communication Services (ACS)
  For solutions that make ACS more accessible to and easier to use by
  people with disabilities.

Employment Opportunities
  For communication solutions that help individuals with disabilities
  find employment or perform job tasks more productively.

 Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
  For solutions that make communications products or services more
  accessible to persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Mobile Web Browsers
  For innovations that can ensure the effectiveness and efficiency of
  mobile browser interfaces so people who are blind or visually impaired
  can achieve full access to information and communications via the Internet..

Social Media
  To recognize innovations in technologies, standards, or practices that
  can increase access to social media for persons with disabilities.

Closed Captions
  For solutions that make quality captions easier to produce or watch. 
  nominations may be for products or services related to TV programs, web
  videos, removable media, or streaming video programming services.

 Video Description
  For solutions that can make quality video description (narrative
  statements that enable people who are blind or visually impaired to
  understand key program elements that are only conveyed visually) easier
  to produce or consume. Nominations may be for products or services
  related to TV programs, web videos, removable media, or streaming video

Nominations will be judged on the following criteria:

  •         Whether the innovation is unique and inventive
  •          The disability needs addressed by the innovation
  •          The number of people likely to benefit from the innovation
  •          How affordable and available the innovation is for its intended users
  •          Whether recognition by the FCC Chairman is likely to foster additional innovation and accessibility

Nominations may be submitted by email to  This year, we also invite nominations via Twitter using the #ChairmansAAA hashtag. 

Winners of the Chairman's AAA will be honored by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in a ceremony later this year.  Developers of all nominations, whether they win the challenge or not, will have an opportunity to exhibit their submissions at an accompanying show intended to inspire further innovations in accessibility.

For more information about the third Chairman's AAA, contact Jamal
Mazrui (phone::202-418-0069;  email: Kelly
Jones (phone: 202-418-7078; email, or visit:
Watch FCC video from a recent presentation by past winner, Clemson U. professor Juan Gilbert, showcasing accessible voting technology.

For more information about past winners of the Chairman's AAA, visit: (second awards) (first awards).