Technology and Disability Policy Highlights – Spring 2021

Date of Publication: 
2021 May

During March, disability advocates and members of the community celebrated Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. The National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD) coordinated with state and local municipal governments to raise awareness for better inclusion of people with developmental disabilities in all aspects of human life. Each year a resource guide is curated and includes videos, toolkits, photos, personal stories, promising practices, and more.

In regulatory news, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) moved forward proceedings concerning (1) whether updates are needed to FCC rules implementing the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA), (2) emergency communications, and (3) telehealth. The FCC adopted a Report and Order to provide objective evaluation metrics for healthcare providers’ applications for funding. Regarding emergency communications, the FCC published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) and Notice of Inquiry (NOI) [PS Docket Nos. 15-91 and 15-94], concerning, among other things allowing federal agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security, authority to initiate presidential alerts under a new “national” emergency alert class (NPRM) and whether it is technically feasible to deliver EAS alerts through the internet, including through streaming services (NOI).

In Wireless RERC news, we convened our State of Technology Forum, examining the evolving nature and capacities of wireless technologies and identifying opportunities to meet a range of community needs for access, equity, and inclusion. The program comprised a series of discussion-based sessions focused on the role of research, development, and stakeholder engagement in advancing the full social inclusion of people with disabilities. The discussions were punctuated by Rapid Fire Research Demos, Lightning Development Demos, and selected paper presentations. R&D Showcase Videos included: Augmented Reality as a Design Tool, Socially Assistive Robot for Respite Care, Inclusive Emergency Lifelines, Wearable Technology Designer’s Web Tool, and the Tactile Graphics Helper.

This issue also includes news about the internet of things, socialbots, assistive technology, brain-computer interfaces, autonomous vehicles, robotic pets, and more.


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.