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. Now along with the fun colors and
camera feature, are 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 Web site for details: http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/dro
The FCC rules will give people with disabilities access to a broad range of products and servicessuch as telephones, cell phones, pagers, call-waiting, and operator services, that they cannot use today.Telecommunications products can be easily modified to include such features as:
The new rules adopted by the FCC require manufacturers and service providers to design telecommunications equipment and services with the needs of people with disabilities in mind. This doesn't mean all devices will address all disabilities, but manufacturers must adapt enough equipment to provide variety to consumers with disabilities.
Look for new telephones, special features, pagers and cell phones; changes are taking place now.