Technology and Disability Policy Highlights - Fall 2018: September - October

2018 November

October 2018 was celebrated as National Disability Employment Awareness (NDEAM), and the contributions and achievements of people with disabilities were recognized and honored at events and in publications. The Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) 2018 theme for NDEAM was “America’s Workforce: Empowering All.” In keeping with the theme the Partnership for Employment and Accessible Technology (PEAT), focused on Empowering All through Accessible Technology and provided a number of resources for employer training, accessible workplace technologies ecosystem, apprenticeships, and more.

Apropos, the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research’s (NIDILRR) 40th anniversary was celebrated in October, as well. NIDILRR funds the Wireless RERC and other research, training, and demonstration projects across the nation in a number of domains (health and function, employment, and community living) to enhance the quality of life of people with disabilities. NIDILRR Deputy Director, Kristi Hill, discussed NIDILRR's future and the need to ensure research is “practical and applicable to people's lives.” Some technologies she envisioned as integral to an inclusive future include automation and robotics. The Wireless RERC attended NIDILRR’s celebration and provided a poster which highlighted our development projects that advance access to a dynamic, inclusive wireless ecosystem. The Wireless RERC, plus approximately six other RERCS, will remain on display at The Great Hall at the Department of Health and Human Services. 

This fall also saw the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2018 [H.R. 302] be codified as Public Law 115-254, with an aim to improve air travel for consumers with disabilities. To ensure the continual advancement of accessible aircraft technologies, PL 115-254 instructs that these technologies be extended to every airport or facility of an air carrier, and be inclusive of every disability type. In September, legislators addressed accessible road travel and the need for an autonomous vehicles law that contains provisions that prevent discriminatory policies and practices against people with disabilities, contending that they could stand to benefit the most from self-driving vehicles.

This fall issue is chock full of news, read on for Bias in AI, the ADA and web access, interoperable video calling, the nationwide WEA test, a variety of smart glasses, drones for wayfinding, a braille tablet, smart cities, smart prosthetics, a virtual reality life skills trainer, and more.

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