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July 26, 2019

Celebrating the ADA and Looking Forward to What’s Next .

Celebrating the ADA — and Looking Forward to What’s Next

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Bryanna Evans

Accessibility has been an industry priority from the beginning. The wireless industry has worked hard to ensure that the benefits of wireless are accessible to everyone. Back when the ADA was signed in 1990, cellphones were still relatively novel—just 4.3 million customers in the United States had a wireless subscription. Today, as the ADA marks its 29th anniversary, the number of wireless subscribers is nearly 100 times that— and many of these subscribers use their phone to tap into a broad ecosystem of accessibility features and apps that help make life easier for people of all abilities.

Thanks to updated guidance in the CVAA that folds 21st century technologies into accessibility expectations included in the ADA, the ever-evolving world of wireless technology is able to expand the solutions and services available to empower and connect people with unique accessibility needs. In July 2019, CTIA relaunched its industry-leading website AccessWireless.org to keep pace with the latest information about wireless resources and tools available for people with disabilities, seniors, veterans and their families and caregivers.

“AccessWireless.org will increase access, opportunities, and inclusion of people with disabilities by helping folks with a range of disabilities find a mobile device that works best for their specific accessibility needs.”
Helena Berger, President and CEO, American Association of People with Disabilities

CTIA is proud to partner with the wireless industry and the accessibility community to share information about the wireless handsets, services and apps that are creating new possibilities for all Americans. The GARI tool allows users to search and compare devices and apps, while our database of industry resources is a detailed list of the devices and services offered by wireless carriers and our community partners.

The next generation of wireless will bring even more possibilities. The faster speeds and lower latency of 5G will revolutionize how we all connect with each other and with the world around us. For some consumers, including people with disabilities and millions of older adults, the innovations enabled by 5G could be virtually life-changing.

With the next generation of wireless, we can soon expect greater technological advances and disruptions of sectors like healthcare, education, transportation, and public safety. CTIA is committed to collaborating with the wireless industry and a community of accessibility partners on innovations that will benefit the diverse needs of all wireless consumers.

What’s Possible With 5G?

  • Virtual and augmented reality technologies will dramatically improve economic and social opportunities for people living with learning or social disabilities, allowing them to learn life skills—like reading facial expressions or navigating crowded streets—in a safe, controlled environment.
  • 5G connected self-driving cars will reduce transportation obstacles for the accessibility community and seniors aging in place, creating new opportunities for employment and civic engagement.
  • The increased densification of 5G networks will support enhanced geo-location and navigation services for people who are blind or visually impaired, making it easier for users to navigate their communities, identify their destinations, find a seat on the next bus, and more.
  • With networks up to 100 times faster than 4G and up to five times more responsive, video conferencing will improve immensely, benefitting those who communicate in American Sign Language (ASL) and expanding telework employment opportunities for people with various abilities.

The wireless industry has grown and changed a lot since 1990, and accessibility regulations like the ADA and CVAA have been there along the way to help guide the creation of accessibility features that bring opportunities all Americans. To learn more about accessibility and wireless, visit AccessWireless.org.

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