A campaign has been launched to support vision impaired Americans who have problems accessing mobile phone services. The campaign, co-ordinated by the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), will raise awareness of Section 255, a part of the Federal Communications Act that requires all phones to be made usable by people with disabilities.
The ‘Cell Phone Accessibility Project’ provides consumers with information about Section 255; what consumers can expect from a usable cell phone; information about available cell phones with features that make them more usable by people with vision loss; and strategies that consumers can use in campaigning for phones that meet their needs. The AFB also provides information about how to file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which enforces Section 255 .
“Two kinds of complaints can be filed under Section 255, formal and informal. The complaints are informal. The FCC notifies the companies against whom the complaints are filed and the companies are required to contact the consumers to attempt to resolve the accessibility issues,” said Paul W. Schroeder, AFB Vice President, Programs and Policy. “We decided to assist a group of individuals in filing a series of complaints to provide evidence to the FCC that the cell phone industry, as a whole has not made enough progress in developing accessible cell phones,” he told E-Access Bulletin.
“Hopefully, companies will do two things: provide more details about the accessibility features currently available in phones, and begin working with qualified experts to fully examine accessibility and improve everything from visibility of the display to the tactile identification of keys and speech output for all phone functions and information,” Schroeder said.
“Thus far, 14 individuals have filed complaints against the cell phone service provider Sprint Nextel and against several phone manufacturers,” said Schroeder. “I expect that there may be a few more complaints that will be filed in the next few weeks as we have a number of individuals who have expressed an interest in making complaints,” he said. “Section 255 requires both service providers and manufacturers to ensure that their services and equipment are accessible to people with disabilities, if readily achievable. That is why the complaints are against both the provider and the specific phone manufacturer,” he explained.