Five Years of CVAA: Industry Shows Sustained Commitment to Ensuring Consumers with Disabilities Have Access to ICT Products and Services
On October 8, 2010, President Obama signed into law the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA), which lays out communications accessibility requirements to help ensure that individuals with disabilities are able to fully use communications services and equipment for video services and advanced communications service (ACS). TIA’s member companies, the manufacturers and suppliers of products and services used in global communications across all technology platforms, are subject to the CVAA’s obligations and have been, and continue to be committed to meeting the letter and intent of the law. TIA supported the passage of the CVAA and has been actively engaged in the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) various efforts towards passing rules that further the CVAA’s objectives.
In the five years since the passage of the law, the information and communications technology (ICT) industry has not only met but exceeded the bar set by the FCC’s CVAA regulations. The percentage of mobile wireless handsets that are hearing aid compatible (HAC) are far above the current required percentage, with approximately 80% of handsets being HAC-rated. Additionally, ICT manufacturers of wireless products increasingly employ a software platform approach for inclusion of accessibility features across portfolios, leveraging the principle of universal design. The CVAA’s requirement for consultations with the disability community in the R&D process is occurring both on an individual company basis, as well as on the association level through participation at various advocacy conferences and incorporation of feedback in the design process.
In its 2015 report on FCC efforts to implement the CVAA, the Government Accountability Office noted that disability advocates generally agreed that accessibility had improved since the CVAA’s passage. We agree - the CVAA’s requirements have resulted in increased accessibility across ICT products and services, and will continue to do so. TIA supported this belief in comments to inform the FCC's 2014 CVAA Biennial Report to Congress. In this report, the FCC concluded “there is a greater selection of accessible telecommunications devices available to people with disabilities now than were available at the time that the Commission prepared its 2012 CVAA Biennial Report.”
With respect to the implementation of Section 716, which deals with ACS “[a]lthough less than a year has passed since implementation of Section 716 went into full effect, we find that industry has made efforts to comply with the CVAA’s requirements to ensure that advanced communications services and the equipment used for these services are accessible to people with disabilities.”
As a result, on the CVAA’s fifth anniversary, we highlight the significant improvements that have been made due to industry’s commitment to continued investment and innovation in this area. This commitment, along with the FCC’s use of a flexible approach to regulation of disability access that affords manufacturers the opportunity to determine the appropriate technical approach or procedure for their organizations, have greatly improved the accessibility of advanced communications services to the benefit of consumers.