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July 27, 2017

Making Wireless Accessible for All Americans .

Making Wireless Accessible for All Americans


CTIA SVP Jamie Hastings
Jamie Hastings
Senior Vice President, External & State Affairs

Twenty-seven years ago this week, the Americans with Disabilities Act became law, opening doors for people with disabilities across the country. Today, the wireless industry is proud to share our commitment to key goals of the ADA—equality of opportunity, full participation, and independent living—and some of the ways we fulfill that commitment:

Accessibility is baked into everything we do. The wireless industry has built accessibility into our culture, bringing a diversity of thought and experience that makes our products and communities better. Today, we’re proud to offer all consumers a consistent wireless experience across services, plans, and devices, while also allowing consumers to customize devices and plan features to suit their needs. We offer phones, OSs, and apps that provide vision-, hearing-, dexterity-, and cognition-related features.

From voice controls and tactile or visual signals for alerts, to video calling and HD Voice services, the wireless industry’s innovative spirit helps meet the needs of individuals with disabilities. Our members also believe in and have won awards for creating inclusive and accessible workplaces, supply chains, and marketplaces.

Information empowers and provides choice. Through AccessWireless.Org, CTIA provides a one-stop resource for information about accessible wireless products and services. Designed for people with disabilities, seniors, and their families, this resource has won multiple awards, including this week’s James C. Marsters Promotion Award from Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, for illustrating CTIA’s commitment to promoting accessible communications products and services.

Through AccessWireless.Org, CTIA also partnered with the Mobile Manufacturers Forum to create the first cell phone database—the Global Accessibility Reporting Initiative—that shows which phones have accessible features.

Wireless accessibility improves public safety. The wireless community has worked hard to make public safety services even more accessible through our Text-to-911 and Real-Time Text programs. Text-to-911 connects those that are deaf, hard-of-hearing, or unable to speak to over 900 9-1-1 call centers across America that are able to communicate about an emergency via text messaging. While still developing, Real-Time Text displays words as they are typed instead of waiting until the user presses send, mirroring spoken conversation for individuals with hearing loss or speech disorders which could save precious minutes in an emergency.

Engagement and continued dialogue are key. CTIA offers the wireless industry and the accessibility community opportunities to come together to discuss ways our platform can further improve mobile accessibility. In fact, over a two-year period, we participated in nearly 30 accessibility-related events, including panels, sponsorships, conferences, summits, webinars and more, from the M-Enabling Summit to the American Association of People with Disabilities Leadership Awards Gala.

Since the ADA became law in 1990, wireless has helped transform the world and the way we communicate. The choice and diversity of wireless offerings available to the accessibility community is something to celebrate, and we’re proud to have worked closely with the accessibility community and policymakers throughout the years, including to implement the letter, spirit, and intent of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act.

And the future is bright: the development of 5G technologies and the IoT will provide all consumers, including those with disabilities, with even more options that will improve health, mobility, and education. CTIA looks forward to continuing our partnership with the accessibility community to further empower all Americans to access the vital communications services that wireless enables.


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