On June 12, 2023, the FCC released a Report and Order, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, and Order on access to video conferencing by people with disabilities. The item was adopted by the Commission at its June 8 open meeting.
In the Report and Order, the FCC finds that the existing accessibility requirements for advanced communications services (ACS) apply to commonly used video conferencing services. The FCC gives providers of those video conferencing services one year and 30 days from Federal Register publication of the Report and Order to come into compliance with the ACS accessibility requirements. The FCC will announce the compliance date by subsequent Public Notice.
In the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), the FCC proposes to add specific performance objectives for improving the accessibility of video conferencing services, including:
- Speech-to-text (captioning) capabilities;
- Text-to-speech capabilities; and
- Enabling the use of sign language interpreting.
The FCC also seeks comment on:
- 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; and
- When multiple communications assistants may be assigned to relay service calls that involve users of different forms of TRS.
Finally, the Order would partially waive for one year, subject to conditions, a TRS rule that restricts Video Relay Service (VRS) users’ ability to turn off their video cameras when not actively participating in a video conference.
The FCC will announce the dates for filing comments and reply comments on the NPRM once those dates are set.
Link to the Report and Order, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, and Order:
More information about ACS is available at: www.fcc.gov/acs; and about relay services at: www.fcc.gov/trs. For further information regarding ACS, contact Darryl Cooper, Disability Rights Office, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, 202-418-7131, or Darryl.Cooper@fcc.gov. For further information on TRS, contact Bill 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).