The Basics of Title 1 of the CVAA: Communication Access
This post is part 2 of a series titled Everything You Need to Know about the FCC Accessibility Regulations. To see any of the blog posts in this series, please follow the navigation at the bottom of the page.
Last time, we introduced the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) and the regulations within it. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at Title 1 of the CVAA. First, we’ll explore what Title 1 is and who it applies to before diving into what your business will need to do if your product or service needs to adhere to Title 1’s regulations.
Introducing Title 1 – Enabling Communication Access for All
Title 1 of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) “requires advanced communications services and products to be accessible by people with disabilities”.
So, what is an “advanced communication service”? According to the FFC, advanced communication services and products are defined as having the following abilities:
- “Interconnected voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) service;
- Non-interconnected VoIP service;
- Electronic messaging service; and
- Inter-operable video conferencing service. This includes, for example, text messaging, e-mail, instant messaging, and video communications.”
Basically, Title 1 ensures that all devices and services that utilize broadband internet are able to be used by people with disabilities.
What counts as an “advanced communication service or product”?
“Advanced communication services” include all technological devices that utilize Wi-Fi or 3G, or connect to the internet in some way. If your device allows people to check their emails, receive and send text messages, watch videos or interact with the world through an internet connection, your device must adhere to the following regulations.
This covers a huge range of emerging technologies, including:
- Products or services that provide text messaging, instant messaging, email communication or other text-based communication services.
- Set-top boxes
- Mobile phones
- Gaming consoles and more.
- Products or services that provides non-interconnected VoIP based communication
- Chat and visual communication services, such as Skype or Facebook Chat
- Products or services that provide video based communication
- Skype, Face time and other visual communication services
- Webinars and other products that enable real-time visual communication over the internet
- Products or services that enable access to the internet
- Internet browsers
- Internet Service Providers (ISP)
- And more
If you are unsure if your product or service is classed as an “advanced communication service or product”, we would recommend that you contact the FCC. If you’d like to contact the FCC, you can find their contact information here.
What Do Producers of Advanced Communication Services and Products Need to Do?
As you now know, Title 1 enforces businesses that create products or services for end-users, such as laptops, tablets and smart phones must make their equipment accessible to those with disabilities.
According to the CVAA, producers of “advanced communication services” have to adhere to the following regulations. In the words of the FCC, the CVAA:
- “Requires access to web browsers on mobile devices by people who are blind or visually impaired (a “ramp” to the Internet on mobile devices).
- Creates industry record keeping obligations; requires changes to complaint and enforcement procedures; tightens deadlines for the FCC to respond to consumer complaints; requires biennial reporting by the FCC to Congress; and directs the Comptroller General to issue a five-year report on the FCC’s implementation.
- Requires an FCC clearinghouse on accessible communications services and equipment.
- Applies the hearing aid compatibility mandates to telephone-like equipment used with advanced communications services.
- Updates the definition of telecommunications relay services (TRS) to include people who are deaf-blind and to allow communication between and among different types of relay users.
- Requires interconnected and non-interconnected VoIP service providers to contribute to the Interstate TRS Fund.
- Directs the allocation of up to $10 million per year from the Interstate TRS Fund for the distribution of specialized equipment to low-income people who are deaf-blind, to enable these individuals to access telecommunications service, Internet access service, and advanced communications.
- Authorizes FCC action to ensure reliable and inter-operable access to next generation 9-1-1 services by people with disabilities.
- Text to 911 – Effective September 30th 2013, all wireless phone companies were mandated to allow bounce back messages from 911.” Anyone who tries to text 911 should be able to have complete access to communication, regardless of disability. To learn more, check out this article from the FCC about this part of the regulations.
It is important to note that Title 1 of the CVAA will affect every business differently. For example, one of the most important parts to note for smart phone manufacturers is the last bullet point – the Text to 911 capabilities. This aims to enable everyone, including those with disabilities, to contact and communicate with emergency services. However, if you’re a computer manufacturer, you may be mostly interested in the first bullet point where you have to provide a mechanism for disabled users to access the internet on your device.
Note that multiple points may apply to your business. The FCC has decided it is your responsibility to discover which parts of the CVAA you must comply with. The last blog post of this series will go through what businesses need to do to get up to date with the CVAA’s regulations. However, if at any stage you’d like clarification on what parts of the CVAA apply to your business or whether your product is classed as an “advanced communication service or product”, you can contact the FCC here.
Learn More about the CVAA and Title 1
Title 1 of the CVAA enforces producers of “advanced communication services and products” to enable their devices and services to be accessible for people with disabilities if the product or service can connect to the internet. This will affect every business in a different way depending on what product or service you produce.
If you’d like to learn more about the CVAA, Title 1 and what parts of the title you need to adhere to, here is a list of valuable resources:
- The Official Guide to the CVAA
- More details on the CVAA (in downloadable word document form)
- The FCC’s Overview and Public Releases about the CVAA
- iOS Accessibility Guide for App Developers
- Android Accessibility Guide for App Developers
Get Up to Date with NeoSpeech Text-to-Speech
At NeoSpeech, we specialize in offering the best quality text-to-speech solutions. Text-to-speech (TTS) software does exactly what it suggests – it takes text and turns it into speech. To learn more about TTS, check out our What is Text-to-Speech and How Does it Work post. TTS software is a great technology to use to enable your product or service to be accessible to people who are blind or have other visual impairments.
Text-to-Speech can be used to comply with many parts of Title 1. For example, Title 1 of the CVAA requires internet browsers built into mobile phones to be accessible and usable by individuals who are blind or visually impaired. If you produce smart phones, tablets or another emerging technology that enables access to internet browsers, you could incorporate text-to-speech technology to read out what is presented on the screen and instructions for how to navigate the device.
If you’re interested in learning more about NeoSpeech’s Text-to-Speech and whether we can help your business get up to standard, please feel free to visit our website or contact us through our Sales Inquiry form and our friendly team will be happy to help.
Next Blog Post in the Series – Title 2: Video Programming
Next time we’ll be examining the other title in the CVAA, Title 2, which describes the accessibility regulations around video programming and uploading videos to the internet. We’ll be posting each post in this series every Monday – so stay tuned!