FCC CHAIRMAN GENACHOWSKI HONORS INNOVATORS IN ACCESSIBILITY COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGY IN CEREMONY TODAY

Demonstrations of Technologies to Be Displayed Through December 31 in the Commission’s Technology Experience Center (TEC

Washington, D.C. – At a ceremony today, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski celebrated the innovative achievements of technologists whose work in communication-related areas benefits people with disabilities, bestowing the second Awards for Advancement in Accessibility (Chairman's AAA). 

The Chairman’s AAA, a project of the FCC’s Accessibility and Innovation Initiative (A&I Initiative), based on a recommendation of the FCC’s 2010 National Broadband Plan, recognizes outstanding private and public sector ventures in accessibility and innovation. The A&I Initiative seeks to facilitate dialogue among industry, assistive technology companies, app developers, government representatives, and consumers to allow stakeholders to share best practices and solutions for accessible communications technologies.

The Chairman today thanked the winners, saying: “The work you have done and will continue to do to advance accessibility efforts mean that many more individuals can now vote, operate their radios, enjoy cultural experiences, catch the bus, and benefit from video description – things that they may not have been able to do before.  Your efforts mean that people with disabilities can enjoy the wonder of our nation’s emerging communications technologies, and ultimately lead better lives.”

Seven winners and two honorable mentions were recognized, chosen in six different categories: Consumer Empowerment Information; Mobile Applications; Civic Participation Solutions; Education: College or University; Video Programming; and Geo-Location Solutions.    

Winners of 2012 Chairman’s AAA are:

·         Consumer Empowerment Information -- Project StAR: Accessible Radio 2012/The Narrator: This AM/FM/HD radio follows the principle of universal design by providing simple, tactile controls that talk so that people who are blind or visually impaired can control the user interfaces on their radio.  Neely Oplinger of Metropolitan Washington Ear, Mike Dahnert of Best Buy and Al Shuldiner of Ibiquity accepted the award.

·         Mobile Applications -- WGBH National Center for Accessible Media: "Media Access Mobile": This mobile technology enhances the user experience for multimedia presentations at cultural institutions, museums, exhibits, or other venues by providing synchronized text for people who are deaf or hard of hearing and synchronized audio description for people who are blind or visually impaired.  Larry Goldberg from the WGBH National Center for Accessible Media accepted the award.

·         Civic Participation Solutions -- Prime III:  A Universally Designed Voting Machine: This system allows people with visual, hearing, reading, or dexterity disabilities to privately and independently vote using the same voting machine as everyone else.  Andrea Johnson from the Clemson University Human-Centered Computing Lab accepted the award.

·         Education: College or University -- Project:  Possibility SS12:  Code for a Cause: This event educates computer science students about accessibility, making these students better equipped to develop accessible technology solutions for people with disabilities. Accepting the award: Sean Goggin from Project accepted the award.

·         Video Programming -- Accessible Media Inc. (AMI), and Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE): AMI’s Described Video Guide builds awareness about video description while providing an accessible, aggregate daily list of described video programming to enable individuals who are blind or visually impaired to plan their TV viewing. Robert Pearson and David Errington accepted the award for AMI. SMPTE’s 2052 suite of Standards and Recommended Practices for “SMPTE Timed Text” (SMPTE-TT) enable television content delivered over Internet protocol to retain closed captions for the deaf and hard of hearing communities. Robert Seidel accepted the award for SMPTE.

·         Geo-Location Services -- Tiramisu Transit: This app, which intelligently crowd-sources information on bus schedules, timing, and space availability, was written to be compliant with accessibility guidelines of various platforms and is intended to benefit people with and without disabilities. Aaron Steinfeld of Tiramisu Transit accepted the award.     

Honorable mentions are:

·         Civic Participation -- Google+ Hangouts: This program allows people who are deaf and hard of hearing and who communicate in sign language to participate in multi-user video chat while controlling whose screen they want to view.  Adrienne Biddings from Google accepted the award.

·         Mobile Applications -- Virtual Braille Keyboard: Developed by a team at Stanford University, this technology innovation allows people who are blind or visually impaired to use the Braille code for input on the touchscreen of a tablet or other mobile device, allowing greater access to the world of apps for such individuals.

Many of the winning projects will be displayed in the FCC’s Technology Experience Center (http://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/technology-experience-center) along with other cutting-edge technologies that provide access to persons with disabilities, through Dec. 31, 2012. 

For more information about the FCC, visit FCC.gov.