WASHINGTON, October 20, 2009 – The Federal Communications Commission needs to lead by example in making broadband options to people with disabilities, said members of a panel speaking at an October 20, 2009, workshop on high-speed internet.
The technology can enable services such as teacher training and distance learning – and make other services efficient and cheap to access.
Over 80 percent of the American population live in rural areas, panelists said. The national broadband plan needs to target them, ensuring that they get access to broadband. Many of these people have no access to high-speed internet service.
The potential for broadband to further education, job creation and entrepreneurial activities, health care, civic participation, emergency preparedness and response, telework, social networking, and other national purposes for people with disabilities is enormous, said panelists.
When broadband is used to train groups such as the disadvantaged youth, or those with disabilities, it gives such people the opportunities they would otherwise never had.
The lack of prioritization of needs was seen by several as a barrier to essential services. For online services to be usable by everybody they should also be readily available. That’s one reason why the FCC is taking on the challenge to understand the specific needs of different segments of the population.
“The FCC needs to have data on people with disabilities in order to find out ways to serve them best,” said C. Marty Exline, director of the Missouri Assistive Technology Program.
BroadbandCensus.com was launched in January 2008, and uses “crowdsourcing” to collect the Broadband SPARC: Speeds, Prices, Availability, Reliability and Competition. The news on BroadbandCensus.com is produced by Broadband Census News LLC, a subsidiary of Broadband Census LLC that was created in July 2009.
A recent split of operations helps to clarify the mission of BroadbandCensus.com. Broadband Census Data LLC offers commercial broadband verification services to cities, states, carriers and broadband users. Created in July 2009, Broadband Census Data LLC produced a joint application in the NTIA’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program with Virginia Tech’s eCorridors Program. In August 2009, BroadbandCensus.com released a beta map of Columbia, South Carolina, in partnership with Benedict-Allen Community Development Corporation.
Broadband Census News LLC offers daily and weekly reporting, as well as the Broadband Breakfast Club. The Broadband Breakfast Club has been inviting top experts and policy-makers to share breakfast and perspectives on broadband technology and internet policy since October 2008. Both Broadband Census News LLC and Broadband Census Data LLC are subsidiaries of Broadband Census LLC, and are organized in the Commonwealth of Virginia. About BroadbandCensus.com.