Technology and Disability Policy Highlights – Winter Issue

Date of Publication: 
2021 January

The third of December was International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD), and the United Nations themed the 2020 celebration "Building Back Better: Toward a Disability-Inclusive, Accessible, and Sustainable Post-COVID-19 World." The key messages for IDPD 2020 were health equity-focused and included among others: (1) “The COVID-19 pandemic provides a unique opportunity to build back better our health systems so that they are more inclusive and responsive to the needs and human rights of people experiencing disability in all their diversity.” (2) “Countries need to shift towards a service delivery system rooted in the communities, reaching out and empowering people with disabilities.”

In legislative news, the EXTEND Act [HR 808] was introduced in Congress in November of 2020. The Act aims to expand how states can utilize federal funding from the CARES Act, specifically, allowing states to invest in rural broadband connectivity. This legislation underscores the need to address accessibility to resources and daily life as the country has become unprecedentedly reliant on digital interactions.

In regulatory news, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released several Orders and proposed rules on various matters, including gift rule waivers for Rural Health Care (RHC) and E-Rate program members, fully automatic Internet Protocol Captioned Telephone Service (IP CTS), rural digital opportunity fund, and expansion of marketing opportunities for innovative technologies.

The Wireless RERC is seeking research participants with sensory disabilities from the Metro Atlanta area to participate in a study investigating the accessibility of various emergency alerting signals (audible, visual, tactile, and a combination of these) under everyday conditions and in their environments. If you are interested in participating, please contact Salimah LaForce at

This newsletter also includes news about smart devices, wearables, robotics, augmented reality, virtual reality, mixed reality, digital accessibility guidelines, upcoming assistive technology conferences, 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.