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Axel Leblois

The Access Line

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Nominations Open for U.S. FCC Chairman’s Award for Advancement in Accessibility (AAA)

Pam Gregory, Director, Accessibility and Innovation Initiative

Interview with Pam Gregory, Director, Accessibility and Innovation Initiative, U.S. Federal Communications Commission

Axel Leblois (A.L.): Good afternoon, Pam. Can you tell us a little about the Accessibility and Innovation Initiative?

Pam Gregory (P.G.): I would be happy to!  The Accessibility and Innovation Initiative was started by our Chairman, Julius Genachowski. It is a non-regulatory way to encourage technologists to develop new products and services that are accessible to Persons with Disabilities, and was recommended by our National Broadband Plan. We are lucky enough to be working with people who are developing cutting edge technologies that are accessible.

A.L.: I read something about the Chairman’s AAA. What is that?

P.G.: The Accessibility and Innovation Initiative is always looking for non-traditional ways to spur accessible innovation, and the Chairman’s Award for Advancement in Accessibility (AAA) is a very good example. In fact, this was another recommendation from our National Broadband Plan. The Chairman’s AAA is an avenue to recognize advancements in accessibility. These advancements could be anything from a new personnel training program, the establishment of an accessibility review before products are manufactured, software apps, research on what people with disabilities need in technology products, etc. We are very open-minded about what the advancement could be! 

The AAA will be given to pioneers in accessibility and innovations. Contenders could be individuals or organizations, public and/or private entities, academics, students, application developers, and represent mainstream or assistive technology industries. In addition to recognizing the development of individual mainstream or assistive technologies introduced into the marketplace, the awards could also recognize other accessibility advancements, such as the development of standards or best practices that foster accessibility, or the development of a new consumer clearinghouse of disability-related products and services. We also believe that teaching modules and tools that could help students learn Universal Design and other accessibility practices could be worthy of recognition.

A.L.: Who can apply for the Chairman’s AAA?

P.G.: Anyone over the age of eighteen, or even age sixteen with parental permission. The Chairman’s AAA is open to, and encourages, international entries, whether it is from a more accessibility-advanced country or a developing country. It is open to any individual or entity in the public sector, private sector, or even a public-private partnership. This is the perfect way to hear the wonderful stories that are happening right now that advance accessibility.

A.L.: What is the time-line for the Chairman’s AAA?

P.G.: This year, the product, service, technology, or practice must be available and promoted publicly until 1 May 2011. In the future, we will consider available and publicly promoted advancements that occur during a 12 month period prior to the award’s announcement.

A.L.: Who can nominate an entity for the Chairman’s AAA and how will the FCC pick the winners?

P.G.: Anyone from any country can nominate an entity. We will be forming an internal cross-bureau advisory group to review the nominations and advise the Chairman on the awards. Employees of the Commission and their families are not eligible for this competition.

A.L.:  How does one apply or nominate an entity for the Chairman’s AAA?

P.G.:  It is very simple. When you visit the Chairman’s AAA webpage (http://www.broadband.gov/accessibilityandinnovation), there is some text that explains the Chairman’s AAA and at the bottom of the page, there is an accessible electronic form. All one need to do is fill out the form and hit submit and it will be sent to a team of people who are keeping track of the nominations. We also have an e-mail address, ChairmansAAA@fcc.gov, if anyone has specific questions on the Chairman’s AAA.

A.L.:  Thank you, Pam.  Is there anything else you would like to add?

P.G.: Sure—we encourage parties to nominate themselves or entities that have advanced accessibility. This is a great project and we hope your readers will participate. Our Chairman is waiting to hear from your readers! When you check out the Accessibility and Innovation Initiative, I highly recommend that you look at our activities. We have been launching challenges as a way to engage industry and the public to help the FCC develop solutions to barriers. In fact, we have a very exciting challenge right now called “Lifted by the Cloud: Visions of Cloud-Enhanced Accessibility”. We are hopeful that people will submit a multi-media presentation (Power Point, video, etc.) that demonstrates the potential of Cloud Computing for persons with disabilities.

We also have a free listserv that provides updates to anyone enrolled of all the disability access work happening at the FCC. To subscribe, just send an e-mail to AccessInfo@fcc.gov and write “subscribe” in either the header or the body of the text. To unsubscribe, send an e-mail to AccessInfo@fcc.gov and write “unsubscribe” in either the header or body of the text.

A.L.: Pam, thank you so much for this information.

P.G.: Axel, it was an honor and we look very much forward to working with the G3ict Thank you for the opportunity.



Related Items:

• GameON


• Summit Cooperation Allows for Broadened Perspectives and Participation

• Info Bits - from the G3ict World Digital Accessibility Report Oct /Nov 2009

• UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Address

• ECIME 2011 - 5th European Conference on Information Management and Evaluation, Universita' dell'Insubria Como, Italy

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