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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Closing the Digital Divide for Those with Disabilities

"Mobile Ability: The Transformational Impact of Wireless Innovation for People with Disabilities - A Report"

In each of our modern lives, broadband holds a pivotal key to enhancing economic opportunities, expanding access to education, improving our health and participating in civil society. Nowhere is this potential more powerfully on display than at the intersection of broadband and mobility. And, arguably no community has put this nearly limitless potential to more transformational use in their daily lives than the 1 in 5 Americans who, today, are living with disabilities.

From leading wireless carriers to devoted garage innovators, the mobile innovation community is embracing the true spirit of mobile broadband’s much-touted promise to bring opportunity and quality of life enhancements to all Americans. From people with disabilities who are finding innovative uses for connected smartphones and mainstream mobile applications to technologists who are thinking and creating for the unique needs of specific communities, profound innovation is underway today.

This report is intended as a celebration of this innovation—and an exploration of the common elements, values and commitments that can ensure it is continually nurtured. Twenty years ago, our nation made an extraordinary commitment to accessibility and opportunity in passing the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Wireless grew up in this era. And, today, it is ushering in a second wave of quality of life advances and inclusiveness for 54 million Americans with disabilities.

From voice-activated GPS technology that can guide a blind person down the street , to access to closed captioned video on the go, to the fact that kids with disabilities now can go to school with smartphones in their pockets rather than large, cumbersome assistive devices, these innovations reflect awe-inspiring progress. Equally encouraging is the certain fact that we have barely scratched the surface of what mobile innovation can do to expand the horizons and grow the range of opportunities available to this community.

On behalf of the Mobile Future community, we thank the organizations and technologists who contributed their insights to the development of this report. It is our hope that this paper reflects just one small contribution to a growing conversation and further exploration around unlocking opportunities in the digital/mobile age.

With the release of its National Broadband Plan and subsequent report on broadband for people with disabilities, the Federal Communications Commission is signaling its own commitment to encouraging these life-changing innovations. At this important juncture, we offer this paper to help inform both great products and meaningful policy.

Jonathan Spalter
Mobile Future

Read Full Report:


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