On November 17, 2022, the FCC released a Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that will require broadband Internet access service providers to display easy-to-understand labels to assist consumers when comparison shopping for broadband services.
More specifically regarding accessibility for individuals with disabilities:
- Labels must be accessible to people with disabilities at all points of sale.
- To ensure accessibility to printed and online broadband information, covered providers are strongly encouraged to comply with the well-established legal requirements included in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
- When providing the labels, providers must give primary consideration to the individual’s choice of alternate format, including: “qualified readers, taped texts, audio recordings, braille materials, large print materials, or other effective methods of making visually delivered materials available to individuals with visual impairments.”
- Providers are required to display speed and latency information, recognizing that persons who utilize video conferencing—including persons with disabilities—may find latency metric information to be especially useful when selecting a broadband provider and plan.
In the Further Notice, the FCC seeks comment on the following:
- Additional ways to improve accessibility of the broadband label, such as video calling services to provide customer service in American Sign Language, irrespective of whether the broadband label information is provided in hard copy or digitally.
- Whether to require Braille or a Quick Response (QR) code with a tactile indicator for blind or visually impaired consumers at the point of sale.
- Whether to mandate any specific WCAG suggestions, sections, and criteria for the broadband label, such as specific sections of WCAG 2.1, which suggests providing text alternatives for any non-text content, or providing definitions of idioms, jargon, and abbreviations.
When the comment due dates are established (30 days from Federal Register publication for comments and 60 days from Federal Register publication for replies), another AccessInfo will be released to announce the comment due dates. Interested parties may file comments by accessing the Electronic Comment Filing System at https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/filings. All filings must reference CG Docket No. 22-2. People with disabilities who need assistance to file comments may request assistance by email to FCC504@fcc.gov.
Links to the item:
For general information about broadband labels, visit: https://www.fcc.gov/broadbandlabels. For specific information about this item, contact Erica H. McMahon, Consumer Policy Division, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, (202) 418-0346, or Erica.McMahon@fcc.gov. Individuals who use videophones and are fluent in American Sign Language (ASL) may call the FCC’s ASL Consumer Support Line at (844) 432-2275 (videophone).