FCC seeking input from the disabled for advisory committees

The Federal Communications Commission is looking for nominees with disabilities or a history representing the disabled to serve on two new advisory committees related to providing emergency services for the deaf and blind.

The FCC announced Tuesday it is seeking nominations to serve on the Emergency Access Advisory Committee (EAAC) and the Video Programming and Emergency Access Advisory Committee (VPEAAC). The committees will help implement the provisions of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, which President Obama signed into law earlier this month.

The law is aimed at increasing access to the Internet, television and telecommunications for people with disabilities using tools such as closed captioning and video descriptions. For example, the bill would enable audible descriptions of action on-screen for the visually impaired and require Internet telephone equipment to be compatible with hearing aids.

The EAAC is in charge of conducting a nationwide survey of people with disabilities to determine the most effective way to offer them access to emergency services. The Commission is looking for nominees that either have disabilities or have advocated for organizations representing those with disabilities in the past. Elected officials, emergency responders or subject matter experts are also welcome.

The VPEAAC is tasked with developing recommendations for closed captioning Internet broadcasts of previously aired television programs. The board will also recommend how to provide descriptions of video content and emergency services to the visually impaired. The Commission is looking for nominees that have represented stakeholders in the past including the visually impaired, broadcasters or technology manufacturers.