Innovation is one of the core drivers for advancement in accessibility for people with disabilities. The Chairman's Awards for Advancement in Accessibility (Chairman's AAA) is an FCC program recognizing products, services, standards and other innovative developments that improve the experience of people with disabilities in telecommunications and technology.
Chairman's AAA winners for 2019 were recognized at an awards ceremony on June 18, 2019, held in conjunction with the M-Enabling Conference in Arlington, Va. Chairman Pai's remarks.
2019 Award Winners
Microsoft, Tobii, and EyeTech: USB Human Interface Device Standard for Eye Trackers
For people with limited mobility, using touch screens or physical input devices such as a keyboard or mouse might appear to be an insurmountable challenge. Development of this USB Human Interface Device Standard for Eye Trackers enables generic, all-purpose eye tracking technology to be used in controlling consumer electronics right out of the box, without requiring assistance from someone who can manipulate physical input devices to install software and drivers. When applied, this eye-tracking technology standard not only makes information technology accessible to people with disabilities, but also increases independence for these users.
Cisco: 'Text to Speech' Functionality for 8800 Series Phones
Many of today's office phones display critical contextual information, allowing users to perform many complex tasks. But for workers who are blind or have low vision, using such a phone without the benefits of the display can be difficult. Through a software update, Cisco introduced "text to speech" functionality on its 8800 Series phones. Text to speech gives users audible options for phone functions to help provide people with vision-related disabilities the same workplace capabilities as their coworkers.
A selection committee at the FCC evaluated nominations for this year's awards based on the following criteria:
- How unique and inventive is the nominated effort?
- How does it address disability needs? For example: Does it have a positive, significant impact in meeting the unique needs of specific underserved or small populations? Does it reach a broader audience to increase awareness or promote deployment or adoption of accessible technologies?
- How affordable and available is the nominated effort for its intended users?
- To what degree would the nominated effort significantly and tangibly benefit from recognition by the Chairman?
Winners received a plaque from the FCC and will be commemorated on a permanent plaque on display at FCC Headquarters in Washington. The award-winning technology was displayed at a reception immediately following the awards ceremony.