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If you rushed out to buy a cell phone when prices dropped (like every other American I know) you probably noticed all the shiny new features. Like many new technologies, cell phones are more accessible, even as new features benefit non-disabled consumers.
For example, the display alone provides a mountain of information for users with hearing loss. A TDD is not even needed for certain calls. A vibration function signals a user to read a text message with driving instructions or where to pick up the kids. Also voice activation assists visually-impaired users or those without the ability to press buttons. Along with the fun colors and camera features, there are now many assistive features for consumers with disabilities.
Here's why: On July 14, 1999, the FCC adopted rules and policies to supplement Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and Section 251(a)(2) of the Communications Act of 1934. The ruling requires manufacturers of telecommunications equipment and providers of telecommunications services to ensure that such equipment and services are accessible to and useable by persons with disabilities, if readily achievable. See the FCC's Disabilities Issues Task Force website for details.
The FCC rules will give people with disabilities access to a broad range of products and services—such as telephones, cell phones, pagers, call-waiting, and operator services.Telecommunications products can be easily modified to include such features as:
Look for new telephones, special features, pagers and cell phones; changes are taking place now.