FCC rules require Internet browsers built into mobile phones to be accessible to and usable by individuals who are blind or visually impaired, unless doing so is not achievable with reasonable effort or expense.
What must mobile phone manufacturers and service providers do?
- Manufacturers and service providers must ensure that the functions of their browsers – including the ability to launch the browser – are accessible to and usable by individuals who are blind or visually impaired.
- Manufacturers and service providers may build accessibility into their mobile phones or rely on accessibility solutions provided by other companies that are not built into their mobile phones. An accessibility solution provided by another company might be, for example, an application or software that magnifies the display of a mobile phone to enable an individual who is visually impaired to use the Internet browser. When accessibility solutions are provided by other companies, they must be available to consumers at a nominal cost (a cost small enough that it is not a factor in the consumer's decision to get the mobile phone).
- Manufacturers and service providers must ensure that individuals who are blind or visually impaired are able to use the Internet browser on their devices, but they are not responsible for making the information, applications, or services on the Internet accessible.
What does it mean to be "accessible" and "usable"?
To be accessible, individuals who are blind or visually impaired must be able to locate, identify, and operate the input, control, and mechanical functions of the Internet browser, and be able to access the output or display of all information necessary to operate and use the Internet browser. This means that individuals who are blind or visually impaired must be able to access the functions of an Internet browser – for example, typing a web address in the address bar; identifying and activating the home, back, forward, refresh, reload, and stop buttons; viewing status information; and activating zooming or other features.
To be usable, individuals who are blind or visually impaired must be able to learn about and operate the Internet browser's features, and must be able to access information and documentation for the Internet browser, including instructions and user guides. In addition, companies must provide access to support services, such as technical support hotlines and databases, call centers, service centers, repair services, and billing services.
What can you do if you are concerned about the accessibility of a mobile phone's browser?
You may first want to contact the mobile phone manufacturer or service provider about your accessibility concerns. You can find company contact information on the FCC's website, by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling 202-418-2517 (voice), or 844-432-2275 (videophone).
Whether or not you decide to first contact a company, you can request assistance from the FCC's Disability Rights Office to resolve an accessibility problem by submitting a "request for dispute assistance." DRO must work with you and the company for at least 30 days to try to resolve the accessibility problem before you can file an informal complaint with the FCC.
The best way to file a request for dispute assistance is through the FCC's online Consumer Complaint Center. This form requests all of the information that DRO will need to assist you. You may also request dispute assistance by sending an e-mail to email@example.com, or a letter to:
Federal Communications Commission
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
Disability Rights Office
45 L Street NE
Washington, DC 20554
Your request for dispute assistance should include the following:
- Your name, address, telephone number, and e-mail address
- If communication by telephone or e-mail is not accessible to you, your preferred method of communication
- The name of the manufacturer or service provider
- The type of device, model number, and any software involved
- When you purchased, acquired, or used (or tried to purchase, acquire, or use) the service or equipment
- When you became aware of the accessibility problem
- How or why the service or equipment is not accessible to or usable by you
- If you contacted the company about your accessibility problem, how the company responded
- What you want the company to do to resolve your accessibility problem
- Any other information or documentation you think may help describe or resolve your accessibility problem
Your request for dispute assistance will be assigned a case number. If your accessibility problem is not resolved in 30 days, you will have two choices:
- Request an additional 30 days for DRO to work with you and the company to try to resolve your accessibility problem.
- File an informal complaint about the accessibility problem with the FCC's Enforcement Bureau.
To request an additional 30 days or file an informal complaint, contact DRO at 202-418-2517 (voice), or 844-432-2275 (videophone), by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or by mail to the address above. You will need to provide your last name, zip code, and your case number. If you take no action for 60 days after the 30-day time period ends, your case will be closed.
For more information
For more information about FCC programs to promote access for people with disabilities, visit the FCC's Disability Rights Office website.
Accessible Internet Browsers Built into Mobile Phones (pdf)