On May 16, 2023, the FCC released a press release announcing that the Chairwoman shared a proposal with her fellow Commissioners that would require video conferencing services such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Webex to comply with the accessibility requirements of the Communications Act and FCC rules that govern advanced communications services.

The three accessibility proposals are, as summarized:

  • A Report and Order that finds that the accessibility requirements of section 716 of the Act and Part 14 of the Commission’s rules apply to all services and equipment meeting the definition of “interoperable video conferencing service.”
  • A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to amend Part 14 of Commission rules to add specific performance objectives for enhancing the accessibility of interoperable video conferencing services, including: speech-to-text (captioning) capabilities; text-to-speech capabilities; and enabling the use of American Sign Language (ASL) interpreting. Additionally, the NPRM explores whether the Interstate Telecommunications Relay Services Fund can be used to support the integrated provision of relay service in video conferences, without connecting via a dial-up telephone call.
  • An Order that waives for Video Relay Service (VRS) providers for one year, subject to conditions, a rule that restricts VRS users’ ability to turn off their video cameras when not actively participating in a video conference.

Link to the Press Release:

URL: https://www.fcc.gov/document/rosenworcel-proposes-video-conferencing-services-accessibility-rules

General information regarding interoperable video conferencing is at: https://www.fcc.gov/general/advanced-communications-services-acs.  For further information, please contact Ike Ofobike, Disability Rights Office, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, at 202-418-1028, or Ike.Ofobike@fcc.gov; or William Wallace, Disability Rights Office, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, at 202-418-2716, or William.Wallace@fcc.gov.  Individuals who use videophones and are fluent in American Sign Language may call the FCC’s ASL Consumer Support Line at 844-432-2275 (videophone).

Wednesday, May 17, 2023