Reports

The Wireless Emergency Alerts Video Platform: Emergency Alerts in Many Formats Allow Access for All

This research brief reports on developing a software app that demonstrates the technical feasibility of providing WEA messages in multiple formats, namely text-based messages, spoken messages, symbology, and ASL video with captions, to improve the accessibility of the messages for all receivers. The results of a usability study examining how people who are Deaf understand the emergency messages in multiple formats are also described. 

Battery Extension Tool: A study of smartphone battery demand and conservation modes

The project surveyed power controls that currently exist within current mobile operating systems and evaluated the battery demand of wireless devices, comparing typical operation with optimal battery operation while various accessibility apps are in use. These data were analyzed to develop recommendations for best practices for battery charge extension of wireless devices. A proof-of-concept, customizable user interface prototype app, the Battery Extension Tool (BET), was developed to allow...

Survey of User Needs, SUNspot 1 Use of Mobile Phones by Individuals with Disabilities, 2019-2020

This research brief presents findings from the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Wireless Inclusive Technologies’ (Wireless RERC) Survey of User Needs (SUN) for 2019-2020. We present key findings regarding mobile phone use and satisfaction by consumers with disabilities. A total of 219 respondents, or 98.3%, of users who responded indicated owning or using a wireless device such as a traditional cell phone, smartphone, tablet, or wearable device.

Survey of User Needs, SUNspot 2 Use of Wireless Technology Features and Wireless Device Activities by Individuals with Disabilities, 2019-2020

This report presents findings from the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Wireless Inclusive Technologies’ (Wireless RERC) Survey of User Needs (SUN) for 2019-2020. In this report, we present key findings regarding the use of wireless technology features by SUN respondents, including real-time-text, intelligent assistants, and visual and audio display options. We also discuss the use of wireless devices by individuals with disabilities for a variety of activities. Whereas...

The Federal Communication Commissions' Response to COVID-19: Implications for People with Disabilities

The Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) policies and regulations in response to COVID-19 had the opportunity to profoundly shape digital experiences and social outcomes for Americans with disabilities. However, the FCC's response must be met with an equal effort by other stakeholders to fully realize the intended outcomes. This policy brief identifies and describes the FCC's response to the global health pandemic and the implications of the same for people with disabilities...

Biennial analysis of mobile phone accessibility: Comparative analyses reveals pain points and progress

The Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center for Wireless Inclusive Technologies (Wireless RERC) published its third Biennial Review of Mobile Phone Accessibility, quantifying accessibility levels of mobile phones available in the U.S. market as of February 2020. The study analyzed 141 phones from the Tier 1 wireless carriers (e.g., Verizon and Sprint), one prepaid carrier, and five Lifeline carriers. The Review assessed the presence of 35 features associated with device...

New Wireless RERC Research Brief - Technology Use for Social Connectedness: Exploring the Experiences of People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Family Members, and Professionals

Publication Type: 

People with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) have the potential to benefit from wireless technologies and social networking opportunities facilitated through these technologies. People with IDD, however, are often excluded from technology use and online environments. The aim of this research was to explore how wireless technology tools and software applications help people with IDD socially connect, and how people with IDD and those that support them perceive the usefulness of such tools within this population. To address this goal, a series of focus groups was conducted with adults with IDD, family members of adults with IDD, and professionals who work with people with IDD (e.g., vocational rehabilitation counselors, certified job coaches, transition coordinators in K-12 schools). Our research team coded and analyzed the focus group data following a qualitative descriptive approach. The six identified themes listed below are discussed in the research brief.

Theme 1: Hardware and Software

Theme 2: Accessibility Features

Theme 3: Reasons for Connecting Socially

Theme 4: Barriers to and Supports for Connectivity

Theme 5: Concerns or Fears About Connectivity

Theme 6: Outcomes from Social Connectedness

Date of Publication: 
Friday, July 31, 2020

Two New Survey of User Needs Research Briefs: SUNspots on Mobile Phone Use, Satisfaction, Features, and Activities

Publication Type: 
This bar chart presents how long individuals have had their devices. Among 48 basic cell phone owners who responded, 25 individuals have owned their devices longer than four years; 10 have owned their devices for less than four years but more than three years; 5 have owned their devices for less than three years but more than two years; 5 have owned their devices for less than two years but more than one year; 3 have owned their devices for less than one year. Among 319 smartphone owners who responded, 137

We created SUNspots to share easily digestible data points from the Wireless RERC's cornerstone survey, the Survey of User Needs (SUN). The SUN tracks the use and usability of wireless technology by people with disabilities.  Data collection for this version of the SUN started in 2017. And data collection ended in 2018.  We are currently in the process of analyzing the data and will be sharing it periodically with you through these SUNspots, and via a larger report in the future. 

The data collected from the SUN is used by RERC staff to inform R&D directions for our projects and outreach activities, to support our regulatory filings, and by industry to improve the accessibility of their products and services.  We also made a commitment to members of our Consumer Advisory Network to share what we've learned from the SUN data.  Please find links to the two new SUNspots below to see how wireless technology is being used by people with disabilities. 

SUNspot 01: Use of Mobile Phones by Individuals with Disabilities (2017-2018) presents key findings regarding mobile phone use and satisfaction by consumers with disabilities.

SUNspot 02: Use of Wireless Technology Features and Wireless Device Activities by Individuals with Disabilities (2017-2018) presents key findings regarding the use of wireless technology features by SUN respondents, including real-time-text, intelligent assistants, and visual and audio display options. We also discuss the use of wireless devices by individuals with disabilities for a variety of activities. Whereas SUNspot 1 focused on the devices themselves, this report focuses primarily on the capabilities built into those devices and their relationship to users' reported functional limitations and difficulties.

Date of Publication: 
Thursday, May 23, 2019

Survey of User Needs-SUNspot 2: Use of Wireless Technology Features and Wireless Device Activities by Individuals with Disabilities (2017-2018)

This report presents findings from the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Wireless Inclusive Technologies’ (Wireless RERC) Survey of User Needs (SUN) for 2017-2018. In this report, we present key findings regarding the use of wireless technology features by SUN respondents, including real-time-text, intelligent assistants, and visual and audio display options. We also discuss the use of wireless devices by individuals with disabilities for a variety of activities. Whereas...

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The contents of this website were developed under a grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR grant number 90RE5025-01-00). NIDILRR is a Center within the Administration for Community Living (ACL), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The contents of this website do not necessarily represent the policy of NIDILRR, ACL, HHS, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.