Wireless technologies present tremendous opportunities to benefit all Americans, including those with disabilities. At the FCC, we are excited about these possibilities for innovative communications services, applications and devices. We want to better understand how such technologies can bring more access to more people, and how the FCC can help ensure new technologies as inclusive as possible.

On Thursday, May 13th, the Commission will be exploring these issues during a workshop called "Expanding Disability Access with Wireless Technologies." I hope that everyone who is interested will join us in the Commission Meeting Room or via the web from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. If that time doesn't work for you, the workshop will also be available online afterwards.

The first panel will focus on current access challenges. We will be discussing mobile communications access issues facing people with disabilities and disparities in technology access. During that session, we will be asking our panelists to give us their thoughts on questions such as:

  • What are the key disabilities access challenges that need addressing?
  • How is current technology trying to meet these challenges?
  • What emerging technologies will better meet these challenges?
  • Are there current regulatory barriers that deter technological innovation or negatively affect emerging technologies?

Our second panel will explore technology trends. During this session we will discuss ways in which new technologies can offer opportunities to overcome challenges in access to mobile communications. We will be looking at issues such as:

  • How can the FCC encourage the development of technologically advanced accessible products?
  • How can we stay informed about emerging wireless technologies, and help ensure that the needs of people with disabilities are considered during the design and initial development stages of these technologies?
  • How should we share best practices, understand consumer needs, and foster innovation across wireless industries?
  • What specific solutions might address the development expense of assistive and adaptive technologies?

We will also have several technology demonstrations so that people can experience examples of advanced mobile communications devices that are designed to provide access to people with disabilities.

Click here for more information on the upcoming workshop.