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.
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