Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Throwing the Switch Empowering Advocates to Make the Most of Current Trends in Disability and Technology Policy. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later we will conduct a question-and-answer session, and instructions will be given at that time. If anyone should require assistance during the conference, please press star then zero on your touchtone telephone. As a reminder, this conference call is being recorded. I would like to introduce your host for today''s conference. Mr. Peter Berg, sir, you may begin.
Thank you very much. Welcome to everyone, wherever you are joining us from today. Here in the Midwest, we have winter not yet wanting to give up yet. So welcome to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Audio conference series. The ADA Audio conference series is a project of the ADA National Network. The national network is funded by the U.S. Department of Education, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, NIDRR: The ADA National Network is your premier leader in providing information and training on the Americans with Disabilities Act. I want to go over a few quick items here before we turn it over to today''s speaker and get into a great topic and a whole lot of information. For those of you that are -- we have folks joining us by several means today. We have folks on the telephone, and then we have also folks joining us receiving the audio through streaming through our webinar platform, Blackboard Collaborate. For those of you in the webinar room, if you are having any audio problems, you can adjust your audio settings through the audio/video panel within the webinar room. And if you are having any difficulties, you can run the audio setup wizard, and that should help make sure that your speakers or your headset is adjusted to hear the sound. For those of you needing to use the captioning feature within the webinar platform, you can click on the captioning icon located on the page. The Captioning can be adjusted to the font size that you need. You can also save a transcript of the captioning for your own records if you wish to do so. To submit questions when we get to that point, for those on telephone, we will have Diane come back a little bit later when we get to the Questions and Answers (Q&A) session to give instructions for those on the telephone. For those in the webinar room, you simply need to go to the participant list and select Great Lakes ADA, click on that. A window will open, and you can submit your question that way. For those of you using assistive technology or keystroke function for accessing the participant list, is F6. Once you get to the participant list, you need to arrow up and down till you get to Great Lakes ADA and click on that, and you''ll be able to submit a question. When you submit questions, you will not be able to see that as it is not viewable by the public in the webinar room, but your question is viewable by the host and the moderators, and we will get those questions to the presenter today. You can customize your view. You can adjust the whiteboard, where the PowerPoint presentation is being illustrated, you can resize it to specific needs by using the drop-down menu that is above and to the left of the whiteboard. You can also customize the three separate panels in the webinar platform. They can be made larger, smaller, moved, stretched, whatever size you want to make them to make it viewable. You can detach the panels by selecting the icon in the upper right corner of the panel. If you run into any technical difficulties during today''s session, you can again go through the process. You can submit a comment in the chat area. Again, from the participant list, select Great Lakes ADA Center, or you can send an email directly to -- to firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can give us a call at 877-232-1990. All right, finally, on to what you''ve all been waiting and today''s topic. I would like to introduce now Mark Richert, who is the Director of Public Policy with the American Foundation for the Blind. You can find Mark''s full bio on the ADA Audio website. That''s www.ADA-audio.org. And you can read Mark''s entire bio. So at this point in time, without further adieu, Mark, I had like to turn it over to you. Welcome.
Thank you so much. It is really an honor to make a presentation for ADA Great Lakes and for the tremendous audience that it sounds like you regularly get for these very important teleconferences, webinars, et cetera. And when I looked at the roster of previous presenters, I think some people would already say that I already have a big enough head. I do not know if I keep getting invited to participate in these kinds of things and get on a roster with the kinds of names that you''ve had here present previously, my head is even going to get bigger because you really do get a lot of great presenters. And so it really is an honor and a little bit humbling for me to be on that roster with some great people. My task today is a little bit overwhelming in that I am -- as usual, I am trying to bite off more than I can chew here in terms of content in the time that we have to talk about it, namely this whole question of where we are sort of at with disability and technology policy, talk about some of the latest developments, and hopefully flag some things I think need further homework by me, other advocates, and by all of us that are participating on today''s call because ultimately, any public policy work that we do is dependent upon all of us to actually make our voices heard. You know, I am sure there''s at least one or two people who hearing me just say that just now sort of sigh or shake their head. My encouragement to you would be do not be cynical. Believe it or not, it is still absolutely true that one person can make a difference. It is absolutely true that when we tell our stories as advocates, as people with disabilities -- which I am probably one -- and when we talk about the challenges that we face in terms of accessibility and whether we are talking about mainstream or assistive tech, you know, the expense of those devices, the extent to which they may or may not work together or as efficiently as they could or should, those stories do still make a big, big difference, and for as much as we hear a lot of cynical stuff on the evening news about our Congress or elected leaders, the truth is those stories still make a huge, huge difference. We would not have seen the changes in disability and tech policy over the last several years that we have seen without those individual advocates and the stories that were told. We can have all the data in the world and talk money and dollars and cents and numbers, but those stories totally make the difference. What I am going to do, though, is spend this time together focusing on five specific areas, and I hope that you all will wish me luck in getting through these five areas over the course of the next hour before we get to Q&A. The first area is to talk about the history, sort of set up for you some of the sort of how we got to where we are today. The second area is focused specifically on the landmark 21st Century communications video accessibility Act. The third area is to look at the ADA and how the Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of Justice, has wrestled with making sure the ADA is as relevant as it can be in a digital age. And then fourth to turn to copyright and some what I think are some very interesting developments in intellectual property law and policy that have a direct impact on information accessibility. And when I talk about information access, of course, I am thinking about this not only in terms of gizmos, but the technology equipment side of this, but also just the straight-up rights that people with disabilities have to effective communications, to information that is provided as timely and as accurate a manner as is delivered to folks without disabilities. And then finally, the fifth piece to address what I said a moment ago, the homework I see needs to be done, what is it, and the overall framework of disability and technology law and policy that may be significantly missing. You hear those five topic areas, and you can see why I am asking you to wish me luck because, as I say, there''s no way to get into each of these areas in great detail. There are folks who can and do teach entire courses in these various areas. So what I hope will happen is at the end of this presentation, what you will have is a little bit of a better sense of how all of these various pieces fit together and the extent to which you can make use of the different policy/legal avenues for enforcing the rights that we currently have and making the most of the laws that we fought so hard to get through your own individual advocacy and the extent to which you can encourage others to do it. So let us get to it, part 1 having to do with history. Wow. In the heydays, late 1980s, early 1990s, around the time of the enactment of the historic Emancipation Proclamation for people with disabilities, the ADA, a lot of work was done in the technology area. We think of landmark laws such as the Tech Act. I would imagine many, if not all, of the folks tuned in to this presentation have at least some familiarity with the important role the Tech Act has played to ensure funding and an infrastructure for wrestling with the whole question of providing assistive technology devices and services to people with disabilities. So, fantastic landmark statute that for the first time focused exclusively on the role it can play as a liberator for people with disabilities. In that same vein, the Television Decoder Circuitry Act that essentially said for the same time commercially available products, electronics, namely televisions 13 inches or more in screen size, must include a chip that allows that television to decode captioning. Mostly for folks who are deaf or hard of hearing, or at least that was certainly the intent, but those of my friends and colleagues who are cited remind me every day that you cannot go into a bar or a gymnasium in America without seeing a television that''s on with the captions not on. Clearly, everyone and their brother and sister love captions, so here''s yet another example of how a law that was specific to -- intended to meet the specific needs of people with disabilities, benefits for people well beyond that intended population. The -- in 1990, with the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act, obviously, Title IV of the ADA has to do with coordinating a national system of telephone relay service, again, for folks who are deaf or hard of hearing. There were states who pioneered this effort, but the ADA really said, look, people in the United States of America who have disabilities have a right to access to the telecommunications infrastructure in this country, and so the ADA made it crystal clear that telecommunications is absolutely within the realm of civil rights for people with disabilities. In 1996, the Telecommunications Act itself, the communications Act itself was amended to include for the first time provisions that said, you know, look, we already have language on the books that talks about people having a right to communicate with each other through relay, but what about the whole business of actually being able to use the equipment that gets you there? So the Telecommunications Act of ''96 included a provision which has come to be known as Section 255, and Section 255 of the telecommunication Act of ''96 says that telecommunications equipment, manufacturers, and service providers need to make their stuff -- that''s the technical legal term -- they need to make their stuff accessible if it is readily achievable to do so. And you know, it really represents the first time that the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and Section 255 really represents the first time that equipment used for telecommunications were reached by a federal statute. As I said, the Television (TV) decoder circuitry Act really is a landmark provision -- landmark statute because it really jumped on consumer electronics directly to meet the needs of people with disabilities. But the first time in 1996, we really have some clear provisions having to do with telecommunications equipment and services. That ''96 language is limited, however, in that it is really focused on telephones, on telephone calls, the placing, routing, of telephone calls. It does not have as much relevance or impact on the kinds of communications that we are all either in love with or sick of, depending on your perspective, today. All the electronics, etc., communications and we will get to that in a minute as we get to topic number 2. But 1996 and the Telecommunications Act amendments, Section 255 in particular, lay the groundwork for much of what we have been able to accomplish since then with respect to reaching equipment and services that put people in touch with one another. Also in 1996, a provision known as the Chafee Amendment was enacted. That''s C-h-a-f-e-e, named for Senator John Chafee, who was the proponent of this language. The Chafee Amendment really said for the first time that, look, if you are producing material in an array of different formats, specialized formats, for people with print disabilities, that it will not be necessary for you to first seek and obtain permission from the owner of the copyright in that original standard edition of the book or other nondramatic literary work that you are talking about before you go ahead and generate those accessible formats. So the Chafee Amendment essentially says, look, copyright ownership is not going to pose a barrier to putting in the hands of people with print disabilities the materials that they need. But the Chafee Amendment''s limited, of course, because it does not talk in terms of large print. Large print is not one of the formats that is envisioned. But somewhat in a visionary fashion, it does talk about digital text and digital audio, which are, of course, singularly important today. In 1998, the Congress, as parts of amendments to the Rehabilitation Act, passed changes, very significant updates to Section 508. Section 508 did not have its birth in 1998. We had been living with a Section 508 structure for a while. But arguably, that structure was not all that effective or at least not very effectively implemented. And so in 1998, the Congress took a look at that structure and said we really need to beef up these requirements because we are not moving this ball far enough down the field. So in 1998, Congress passed provisions, updates to Section 508 that essentially say the federal government is responsible for purchasing, developing, maintaining, using, however they happen to play with it, electronic and information technology or E&Information Technology (IT). The contemporary term, I believe, is ICT or Information and Communications Technology. But in any event, in 1998, we really have for the first time some clear provisions that appear in Title V of the Rehab Act, along with all these other civil rights provisions we see in Title V of the Rehab Act, that says the federal government must take the obligation to buy, use, develop stuff that is accessible. And that''s a landmark achieved, at least with respect to the legislative process. And then in the late ''90s, early 2000, we have got the passage of the so-called Digital Millennium Copyright Act or DMCA. This is not so much a piece of disability policy per se, but what the DMCA does is it adds to a wealth of law and the copyright area that talks -- but talking very specifically about modern or contemporary so-called new media. And the extent to which the copyright law can or should be used to police the use of that media in order to protect copyright owners'' rights. So by that, I mean, you know, up till the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, really, what you have on the books for copyright purposes is a lot of talk of what does it mean to infringe someone''s copyright, and of course, the enforcement of that ultimately would be to take someone to court. What the Digital Millennium Copyright Act says is that, you know, we actually are going to recognize that in a digital age, there are means for preventing people from stealing your intellectual property. There are technological means that prevent or limit the ability of someone to steal your intellectual property. And so we need to not only protect an owner''s right in the content but also honor those digital protection measures so that we can impose civil and potentially even criminal penalties if someone tries to get around those visual protection measures, the theory being, of course, if you do not honor or somehow recognize the legitimacy of those protections measures that, you know, you can talk all you want about your copyright ownership in a book, let us say, an electronic book, but if someone rips you off and that stuff gets sent around the globe in a split second, your copyright ownership does not mean a whole lot. So really, the purpose of the DMCA and laws like it is to wrestle with this whole question of how do we mental not only protect copyright owners'' rights, but how do we ensure that the methods we use to make -- to secure that content are appropriate? The reason why there''s a certificate from a disability point of view, of course, is because -- and the technologists who may be listening to me right now can tell us -- they will remember more about this or forget more about this than I will ever know. But the technology side, how the engineering piece of this. The simple reality is that those digital protection measures can themselves be accessibility barriers. They can either intentionally or inadvertently be accessibility barriers, so at least in some part, in recognition that these digital protection measures may pose barriers. The DMCA itself talks about allowing certain groups under certain circumstances to circumvent the digital protection measures when doing so meets certain criteria that the Librarian of Congress will recognize. So I am just flagging for you here and we will get a little more into the theology of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act as we go on. I hope you see in this sweep of about 10, 12 years the array of issues that the disability communicators tried to wrestle with. I have not even mentioned in here hearing aid compatibility, which was something that certainly our community has worked on, as well in the legislative area. You know, I have not gotten into a number of issues that we could discuss because, frankly, we do not have the time. Hopefully what you can see is that the community has tried to sort of bite off various pieces of this very, very large puzzle by targeting specific things, captioning on television, to equipment used to place phone calls, the relay service itself to make sure it is available and funded, the extent to which intellectual property is both honored but also does not pose needless barriers. And also with respect to the federal government trying to make sure that the federal government uses its tremendous purchasing power to hopefully drive market change by ensuring that an accessibility is built in. What you can see is it is sort of fragmented. There is no comprehensive sort of sweeping approach that handles all of these issues. One might say the Americans with Disabilities Act should do that, and lord knows the ADA is a sweeping law, but -- and we will talk about this in a little bit more detail. But the truth is the ADA, for as broad as it is, itself segments this whole question of the interplay between technology and disability policy. And unless -- unless you are an employer that has to accommodate your employees with disabilities or unless you are a program or activity of the state and local government that does certain things, or unless you are a public accommodation, however we are going to define that, the ADA itself, you know, may not apply to you or apply as clearly as we might think. So part of the challenge that the disability community has had, and I would argue continues to have, is that we need to target specific legislative or regulatory public policy activities to those areas that are murky at best or cannot be reached by the existing laws that we have worked so hard for. A principal way we have done that -- moving to Section number 2 of our agenda -- is through the enactment of the of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, or CVAA. It is not an exaggeration to say the CVAA is one of the most comprehensive if not the most comprehensive and significant pieces of legislation in the disability world since the enactment of the ADA. I say that not because I got to play some small part in getting it enacted, but because of the sheer scope of the CVAA, the array of issues that it covers and the extent to which it tries to move the ball down the field, the accessibility ball down the field, in so many different areas all at once. The CVAA is divided, really, into two principal portions or titles. Title I of the CVAA has to do with so-called advanced communication services, and the law gets into defining what that is. Essentially what we are talking about here is electronic messaging, Skype and Skype-like services, browsing on mobile devices, Web browser on mobile devices and the like. Title I also has to do with hearing aid compatibility. I mentioned that in the late ''80s, hearing aid compatibility was the focus of legislation which tried to say, look, we need to make sure that phones can be used with hearing aids and in a digital 21st Century world, those older provisions needed to be expanded and modified so it was crystal clear that the new -- newer -- newer implemented technologies did not leave folks who must use hearing aids behind. So the 21st Century communications video accessibility act, CVAA, says we are updating those requirements, so essentially the new technologies are not going to get away with not being hearing aid compatible. Title I also talks about something which is really, I believe, revolutionary. We are going to see the impact of this over the course of time, and I expect that all of us will hear more about it and see the tremendous results from it. This is the establishment of an equipment distribution and training program administered by the Federal Communications Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which is the federal agency which has jurisdiction over this stuff and who is -- the agency that''s charged with enforcing and implementing the CVAA. And essentially what the CVAA says is that the FCC will administer a program of $10 million per year through a network of agencies around the country, and these have already been identified, that will provide equipment, telecommunications equipment, to low-income folks who are deaf-blind, and any of you who work in the deaf-blind area could explain to the rest of us the horrors of trying to pay for and afford the often far-too-expensive equipment that folks who are deaf-blind must acquire if they want to send and receive email, communicate with folks, use relay, and on and on. Sometimes these pieces of equipment can be many thousands of dollars and well out of reach, certainly, of folks who are on a fixed or very low income. So the purpose of the CVAA is to say this is an absolutely critical piece of the disability community that has been routinely shut out of communications generally and most assuredly out of the communications revolution we are living with. So for up to $10 million a year, equipment will be made available to eligible folks through the network of service providers that the Federal Communications Commission has identified and has entered into agreements with, and also that training will be available. After all, we are not simply going to dump a several-thousand-dollar-device in someone''s lap without giving them proper training in its use, and so the CVAA talks about -- allows that or at least that''s how the Federal Communications Commission has implemented it. Title II of the CVAA talks about video programming, and the devices that provide video programming. So Title II of the CVAA says you know, we know that captioning is essentially required on, for all intents and purposes, a hundred percent of television programming today. But it is not clear, at least up until the enactment of the CVAA, it is not clear whether captioning of programming that''s available via the Internet should be or must be captioned. So the CVAA says we are not going to live with that ambiguity. We are going to ensure -- and of course, as anything with legislation, there are always provisos and exceptions. But essentially, that IP -- that Internet protocol-delivered television programming must itself pass through captions to allow folks who are deaf or hard of hearing to make use of the captioning in the same way that they would be making use of it if that programming was delivered through traditional TV. That''s a really good thing because it begins to break down the barriers that sometimes is seen by folks who play around in this area by how the Internet is treated in disability policy. We will talk about that in a little bit more as we talk about the ADA. Title II also says that for folks, particularly for folks who are blind or visually impaired that video description will be provided on the most popular television networks for at least 50 hours during a calendar quarter per network. So we are really talking about, on average, let us say, about 36 hours a week of programming -- that''s video scribed -- provided by the most popular broadcast and cable networks. The interesting thing here, other than the fact that it is wonderful to be able to have that programming, the interesting thing is we actually did have, in the late ''90s, a -- an initial ruling by the Federal Communications Commission coming out of those telecommunications amendments of ''96 that I mentioned, it called for the FCC to study the whole question of video description. We actually did have a modest requirement to provide these four hours a week, essentially, by the top channels. We had that requirement on the books, and our friends from the motion picture and broadcasting and cable worlds fought vigorously against those provisions and ultimately took us to court, and they prevailed, arguing that the Federal Communications Commission did not have the clear authority that it needed to require those four hours a week of the top channels, and so what we have done in the CVAA is make it crystal clear that the FCC most assuredly does have this authority, and we have built into the CVAA continuing and hopefully expanding authority for the Commission or FCC to possibly raise the number of hours that would be required of the top channels over a period of time based on reporting and such, evaluation of the success of the delivery of video description. Bottom line is video description is alive and well and has been since July 1 of last year, become more and more a part of our life in this country. Title II also gets into the whole question of the gizmos themselves. TV is not just about being able to access television programming. It is about being able to navigate successfully through electronic program guides so that you can see the full array of programming that''s available. Folks are often relying on television programs -- TVs and TV gizmos for the relaying of emergency information, and so Title II of the CVAA says, you know what? We are going to make sure that TVs, digital television, any kind of a video programming playback or recording device needs to have at an absolute minimum an audible menu system allowing folks who are blind or visually impaired particularly to be able to navigate through those on-screen menus and options, even something as simple as controlling volume or changing channels today is a real headache, as many if not all of us know. So the CVAA says look, we are going to make sure that those basic functions and some of the more advanced functions must be accessible through audible output. And certainly, in terms of emergency information, an issue that the commission is wrestling with right now, making sure that we do not just have a tone that''s emitted to warn you that, well, gee, maybe there''s something important going on that I should ask something for help with understanding, but rather than a tone that lets you know there''s an emergency taking place and there may be information on your TV screen you may like to know about, the CVAA says we are going to move beyond that and talk about the provision of, again, audible rendering of that information. So anything that appears on the screen visually, any kind of visual text having to do with broadcast emergency announcements must be made more accessible. So those very, very, very much in broad-brush strokes, that''s what the CVAA does and the way that the CVAA operates, like any other law in this country, you know, just because you pass a law does not mean that all your problems are solved. The CVAA requires us to be active, and what you do in the case of the CVAA is file complaints with the FCC, and if you were to visit FCC.gov, www.fcc.gov, though it is not the most easiest website to get around, you will find information there on the filing of complaints. Starting in October of 2013, the Federal Communications Commission will be entertaining complaints with respect to that stuff we talked about in Title I of the CVAA. So a mobile phone or an office phone or other type of gizmo that allows electronic messaging or so-called interoperable video conferencing or if you are connected via IP -- and if you do not know what that is, do not worry about it, essentially we are talking about some of the more popular, contemporary technology. If you''ve got a gizmo like that and especially those of us who are blind and visually impaired, of course, most concerned about the accessibility of electronic messaging, and any time communication of digital information using these different pieces of equipment. Starting in October 2013, the Federal Communications Commission will entertain complaints that say, hey, I just bought this gizmo, and it does not provide me with electronic messaging. The provider of that equipment can make that gizmo accessible by either building in accessibility features, not unlike the way Apple has done with their popular IPhone or they can ensure the accessibility of their gizmos by making them compatible with technology that is commonly used by people with disabilities, assistive tech kinds of things. So CVAA says that at a minimum, the company, if they are going to go the route of making their stuff compatible, rather than building in accessibility, they must make sure that the compatibility is with stuff that is available to people with disabilities at a nominal cost, unless not -- unless that''s simply not achievable. So how exactly that''s going to pan out -- and many of you might say, well, I am not, frankly, that aware of very many access solutions that are available at nominal or no cost. There are some, but Lord knows we need more. The point is that from a policy or from a legal perspective, the CVAA tries to make a premium of valuing, you know, not expecting the consumer to have to carry all of the cost of accessibility. So that''s the reason why the CVAA tries to emphasize this note about, you know, if an equipment manufacturer is going to go the compatibility route and not provide direct access through some kind of accessibility features they build in, they must -- they must -- make sure that that gizmo is compatible with things that are available to people with disabilities at a nominal cost. If it is not achievable to either build in access features or to make their gizmos compatible with things that are available at a nominal cost or no cost, there still is an expectation on the part of manufacturers and service providers in the telecom world to make their stuff accessible or compatible with technology that folks with disabilities use generally, having nothing to do with cost. So there is at least still that general sort of backup position. So you know, it is important to know that the manufacturer or service provider can build in access or make their stuff compatible. They have to make sure, though, that the compatibility is with things that are not costly, and if either of those approaches is not achievable based on the standards that are in the CVAA -- and as the FCC will apply those factors -- in the context of a complaint, if it is not achievable, there still is an expectation that the equipment manufacturer or service provider needs to make their stuff compatible with AT generally. Of course, there still is the proviso that, you know, that has to happen unless it is not achievable for that manufacturer or service provider to do so. If the manufacturers or service providers were on this call, they would tell you that the factors in the law about what it means to not be achievable are very broad and are very aggressive. They really are comprehensive in terms of dollars and cents and the like. Advocates, of course, would say the language of the CVAA is very clear, that it is going to be exceedingly tough to build the case that either building in access or making your gizmo compatible with assistive tech is not achievable, and that''s certainly our perspective from the point of view of advocates. What will the FCC do? We will not know until we start filing complaints, and that''s the ultimate sort of punch-line for this section of my presentation, which is you know, I can drone on and on about the CVAA and how comprehensive it is and how effective it is and talk to you about how this law should hopefully mean that now electronic messaging, Web browsing on mobile devices, video programming through captioning and description, emergency information, and even video programming devices, digital television and on and on, need to be much more accessible, but the reality of it is until we start filing complaints with the FCC when we find that all of this cool stuff that we want to play with is not accessible, we are not going to know exactly how effective this law has been drafted or implemented, and it is really up to each of us to make that happen. As I predicted, I am rapidly running out of time before I get to our Q&A, so let me rapidly turn to some of these other topics. The third area has to do with the ADA and what the Justice Department has been up to with respect to information accessibility. In 2008, the Justice Department took a comprehensive review of its ADA regulations, and one of the things that the Justice Department was asked to do by a number of advocacy groups was to look at the whole question of effective communication and whether or not the rules about effective communication on the part of ADA Title II and Title III are or were clear enough. And one of the recommendations that we and other groups in the disability community proposed -- which the Department ultimately accepted -- was to clarify that the effective communication rules, this general sense that ADA covered entities must communicate effectively with people with disabilities, and that''s necessary in order to afford people with disabilities full and equal access, that has to be done with a vision to honoring the privacy and independence of the person with a disability. So effective communication is not simply dropping a gizmo in someone''s lap or providing assistance -- the assistance of another person -- though clearly those are always appropriate, you know, those are means of complying with the law, providing some kind of mechanism, having someone help you -- but what has not been clear is the extent to which the ADA rules were as forceful as they could be to say, look, when you are doing that, you need to make sure that it is not just about getting information into the head of a person with a disability; the question is doing that in a way that honors the privacy and independence of that person. Why is that important? Well, when you look at things like the delivery of prescription drug container label information in a form that''s appropriate and in a fashion that meets the ADA''s expectation, you know, you can provide that information by the assistance of another human being or perhaps through some sort of low-tech or high-tech solution. But unless you are going out of your way to ensure that the privacy of the customer is honored, what you may have is, you know, a retail pharmacist essentially recording the information about your drug medication in an environment that allows others to hear it, either directly or inadvertently. And so part of the goal of many of the organizations in the disability community to try to beef up the effective communication regs way to say, look, we think the ADA has meant this all along, but what we want to make sure you understand, world, is that effective communication is not effective unless it is truly honoring the privacy and independence of the person with a disability. But the Justice Department has also been asked to and has begun, has embarked on, a rather comprehensive effort to possibly propose changes to its federal regulations implementing ADA Title II and III in a couple of areas that are of interest to those of us in the disability and tech world, certainly with respect to the Internet. A lot of talk has been devoted to the question of whether or not the ADA is as impactful on the Internet as it could be, particularly with those entities that operate exclusively online. I think the case law is such that -- and I think most people would sort of intuitively recognize that if you have a commercial or retail store, you can physically wander into that store, that if they operate online as well, that you should be able to jump on that entity for failing to make their online operation accessible. But what about those instances where a particular entity seems like a public accommodation, looks like a bookstore, looks like a place of public exhibition or recreation, using all those various categories of public accommodation under the ADA, you know, it looks like it should be a covered entity, but it only operates online, so you know, what about Facebook? Is Facebook a place of public exhibition or a place of recreation? It essentially is a virtual world, or what about bona fide virtual worlds, Second Life, other kinds of online environments, can the ADA reach them? To what extent can they reach them? And those are questions that, frankly, are being wrestled with right now, not only in the courts, but also at the Department of Justice that is contemplating possibly issuing regs in this area to say, look, with respect to online-only operations, the ADA still can reach them when those online operations are public accommodations. Just because you happen to operate only online does not mean that somehow you get to discriminate against people with disabilities. There are a few cases that really get -- that really sort of illustrate this dynamic, the target.com case that a lot of us have heard about, and also the case that folks from the National Association of the Deaf brought and others against Netflix. In the Target case, the question is, look, if target.com is not that accessible, can we use the ADA to compel Target to make target.com more accessible? And ultimately, the court in that case said the extent to which you can do stuff at a Target store that you can do on target.com, that essentially is the extent to which you can use the ADA to force them to make target.com accessible. But the extent to which features that are only available at target.com, those are not reachable. Well, we have a decision now out of the Netflix case where folks who are deaf saying, look, Netflix is a covered entity under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Obviously, providing services exclusively online, but we believe as advocates that nevertheless, the ADA fully applies, and the court in that case, in handling those essentially emotions of that level of the negotiation, essentially held in a different way, that hey, an online-only entity does -- it can be reached by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Why are there two different holdings? Two different federal circuits and different federal court cases that both of those courts were wrestling with. This is why there is ambiguity in this area, and it is why the Department of Justice is looking, among many other things, at possibly revising its regulations in this area, along with possibly looking at clarifying its regulations around equipment accessibility, and by equipment, we in the advocacy world, of course, mean the whole array of gizmos that ADA Title II and III entities are increasingly expecting their patrons to use when they want to do business with us. So you know, the ADA is pretty clear that stuff like ATMs need to be accessible, but what about the check-in kiosks at a hotel? Or what, frankly, about the kinds of equipment that are made available by a hotel, you know, for the pleasure of their guests? Is not there an obligation to make that stuff more accessible or for the entity to provide accessible gizmos? So the Americans with Disabilities Act regs have tried to wrestle with some of these ideas and sort of global terms in very sort of generic one-size-fits-all kind of terms, talking about full and equal access, talking about effective communication. But we have not seen a whole lot of progress with respect to Title II and particularly Title III entities providing this kind of accessible world of technology. And so the Justice Department is wrestling with the whole question of whether the regs can or should be updated to possibly reach into these areas a bit more effectively. The only other thing I want to mention about the Justice Department and its role in information access, at least for now, since I am spending far too much time getting into the details, is that the Justice Department recently, within the last six months, nine months, released a report that they are charged to release on at least a somewhat regular basis by the Rehabilitation Act to evaluate the federal government''s compliance with Section 508, and if you have not read that report or a summary thereof, if you visit the American Foundation for the Blind''s website, afb.org/policy, afb.org/policy, you can get to an analysis of the report itself and an editorial that we have done in our online technology magazine access world that you can also reach by visiting afb.org, and I promise that will be the only ad that I will issue. But access world is a free publication online that does, of course, a lot of reporting about assistive tech and mainstream tech accessibility or inaccessibility, among other things. And we published a summary of this DOJ report, but suffice it to say for the limited time that I have left to lecture at you today, that the DOJ''s report on 508 compliance by our federal government really is pathetic. The report shows that most federal agencies are not even sure if they have an appropriate policy in place, a formal policy in place, to grapple with 508 compliance; Most do not have a good solid chain of command in terms of personnel being responsible for 508 compliance. They are not aware of what their 508 budgets are and how much has been spent to comply with 508. What that shows you, even though 508 has been on the books at the statutory level since ''98 and the standards for fleshing out what 508 means, being on the books since 2000, 2001, we have got a long way to go. And what are the reasons why the federal government is really struggling to comply with 508? I think there are many. We could do an entire lecture on that. But what the DOJ''s report recommends is, among many other things, that agencies actively take a role in validating the compliance of the vendors they work with, validating the accessibility of the stuff that agencies are purchasing. What a novel idea. And there are a couple of agencies that are beginning to do that more. The VA, for example, is taking this idea of validating claims that a product, that a piece of E&IT is more accessible, trying to take that more seriously. So I think the Department of Justice''s recommendation in this area is absolutely key because right now, 508 is sort of relying on the truth-telling, the understanding, whatever that a vendor provides to the Federal government, and often what that vendor is saying is my gizmo or software or what have you is generally compliant or substantially compliant with 508, and even that claim may not be substantial. A lot more work that needs to be done there. In all of the probably five, ten minutes that I have left to give my presentation before we go to Q&A, let me just flag a couple of things in the intellectual property area. I talked about the Chafee amendment early on, and the purpose of the Chafee amendment, as I said, was to break down barriers that copyright ownership might pose to getting accessible materials in the hands of people with disabilities. The reason why it is a barrier is yes, of course, there are some people that say -- you know, that take the Scrooge approach to things, no, keep your mitts off my stuff. I am not going to let you use a screen reader to read my electronic book. But for the most part what is happening, at least with respect to printed materials is, you know, it is a delay. You ultimately can get the publisher or whomever to grant you permission, but by the time you navigate that system, a lot of valuable time has gone by. So the Chafee amendment was intended to break down that time barrier, particularly in the education context. And so that was its principal purpose. We have obviously come a long way since 1996 and we live in a digital world. This is why the DMCA is so important to rights owners who are looking not only for protection of intellectual property for their content, but they are also looking for protection of the means that they employ to prevent people from ripping them off. What the DMCA allows though is for certain exemptions to be put in place so that people can, in fact, get around those digital protection measures if doing so meets a purpose that the -- first, the copyright office, and then ultimately the Librarian of Congress, has decided are appropriate. The Librarian of Congress has recently recognized that an exemption allowing people with disabilities a bit more flexibility is appropriate, meaning that people with disabilities and so-called authorized entities that Chafee amendment describes, namely these groups that have a primary mission to meet the information access needs of people with print disabilities, that both of these groups are allowed to get around digital protection measures under certain circumstances. What are they? In the case of individuals with print disabilities, you can get around digital protection measures and, therefore, get access to the book that you bought if those protection measures are interfering with your screen reader or other assistive tech that you may be using. So you download an e-book and either intentionally or inadvertently is not allowing you to use JAWS or some other piece of assistive tech or refreshable Braille display or what have you. The new exemption allows you to circumvent those controls. You might say that''s nice. I have no idea what you are talking about or how to circumvent those controls. This is why some of the tech whiz bang folks among us could probably figure that out, and some have, but authorized entities, namely, organizations that are dedicated to providing greater information access to people with disabilities, are really in the best position to make the most of an exemption like this. So the recent exemption that''s been granted also says that in addition to individuals with print disabilities, that authorized entities will be able to circumvent digital protection measures when they are doing so within the bounds of that Chafee amendment, which is to say when they are providing for exclusive use for people with print disabilities materials and specialized format. So it is very, I think, a significant development because essentially what this exemption is saying to the world, but particularly policymakers, look, in a digital protection world, we appreciate that rights owners are very concerned about their intellectual property, but it -- those -- that concern or that interest in protecting intellectual property is not -- it cannot be allowed to get in the way of information accessibility. And so the purpose of the exemption is to hopefully listen up what are some pretty rigid controls that the DMCA imposes. I would encourage you, at this point, to take a peek at the outline which I believe ADA Great Lakes has provided you, if you want some more information that I tried to synthesize for you about the intellectual property and some of the other issues. There are a lot of developments on the international scene around the provision of the so-called cross-border sharing of materials in accessible format, and on and on. In addition to some great work that our colleagues at the National Federation of the Blind and some others have done with respect to looking at making more and more e-books accessible to folks with print disabilities. I will just conclude the lecture portion of this by looking at some of the things that I think we would say, you know, there''s more homework that needs to be done. What do we do, for example, about so-called home health or self-care gizmos? I think of insulin pumps or blood glucose meters or blood pressure monitors. You know, these devices are largely inaccessible to people with disabilities. They do not necessarily -- it is hard to jump on manufacturers of those gizmos using a law like the Americans with Disabilities Act because, really, the manufacturer of those gizmos is not a covered entity. What you are doing in the ADA is not jumping on the manufacturer; you are jumping on the purchaser, effectively, of that stuff. So clearly, a hospital or a clinic is covered by the ADA, but you know, we can certainly jump on them till the cows come home. But if they are not able to find technology that is accessible to prescribe for patients with disabilities or to recommend to patients with disabilities, it is going to be hard to make that kind of an approach work. So what about those kinds of devices? And what about mobile help apps that are supposed to work in tandem with these home health or self-care gizmos? I mean, that is certainly a way to build in greater accessibility for people with disabilities to use the smartphones that are so ubiquitous, although admittedly very pricey. But perhaps -- how do we ensure the accessibility of those mobile medical apps when the provider or developer of that mobile medical app is not an ADA-covered entity, for example? The CVAA, of course, talks about technology accessibility in terms of things that are in jurisdiction of the FCC, namely, telecommunications, either by phone or other technologies. The FCC does not have jurisdiction over, necessarily, mobile medical apps or, certainly, home health gizmos, even if they are Internet-equipped gizmos. So there are issues there about how we wrestle with that very significant gap, it seems to me, in the availability of accessible health-related technologies. And I mentioned before about prescription drug label accessibility -- and I will conclude with this -- right now, the Access Board is wrestling with a -- the whole question of how to develop best practices in the communication of prescription drug label information. Because while the Americans with Disabilities Act clearly applies to retail pharmacies, I think we all recognize that just because a law says you must do it, that does not necessarily mean that people know how or, frankly, know how to do it in the best, most effective way. So the Access Board right now is developing what are seen as nonbinding but nevertheless, hopefully, significant best practices in the communication of prescription drug label information. Hopefully what that will mean is that by this summer, there will be a document representing the consensus that''s developed among both advocates and industry, retail and other, pharmacy world, that talk about how can we make sure the prescription drug labeling is communicating effectively? Will that mean that we will be recommending one specific piece of technology or another? I certainly hope not, and I do not expect that it will. I think the best practices will be a tool that pharmacies will be able to turn to say when we are looking at different technologies to purchase or different methods for communicating with people with disabilities who show up at our retail pharmacy counter, that here''s what we need to make sure those gizmos do. They need to make sure that they are honoring the privacy and independence of our customers so that when we communicate our information to them, that it is, in fact, kept private, confidential, and allows the user to make use of this information when they walk out of our door and that that information is consistent in its delivery. In other words, that the information is communicated in an accessible way over the life of the prescription. In any event, I hope that you''ve gotten a flavor for sort of where we have come from, what we are wrestling with now, and maybe some of the newer issues. I apologize for going on longer than we talked about, but hopefully this has given folks some fodder for some good questions, which I had be glad to take now. Thank you very much.
Quite all right, Mark. There''s a lot of information out there, so we appreciate it. Diane, I am going to have you in a moment come back on and give the participants on the phone instructions on how they can ask questions. For those of you in the webinar room, you can begin to submit your questions now. Find the Great Lakes in the participant list and double-click on that, and you will be able to submit your question. Users of assistive technology can use the F6 key, and tab around until you get to the participant list. Once you do, you can arrow up and down until you get to Great Lakes and select that end a you can submit your question. Just a reminder, you will not be able to see your question. It is not -- you cannot view that publicly. But we are able to see that, and we will get that question to Mark. So at this time, Diane, if you could give instructions to those on the telephone on how they can ask questions.
Okay. Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, on the phone line, if you have a question, please press star 1 on your touchtone telephone. If your question has been answered and you wish to remove yourself from the queue, please press the pound key. If you have a question, please press star 1.
All right. While we are, Mark, waiting for our first question on the telephone, we will get to some questions that were submitted in advance, some that have come throu One has to do with FCC enforcement and the questioner wants to know if the FCC does any type of enforcement similar to the DOJ in compliance reviews, or are all FCC investigations based on complaints that they receive, whether it is under Section 255 or whether, you know, come this October, under the 21st Century?
Sure. Excellent question. Excellent question. The short answer is the FCC does have the ability to open an investigation on their own. They certainly have had that authority under 255. And I know of no reason why that would not continue that the FCC so-called enforcement bureau would take up -- would possibly take that up. I will say that the FCC is -- it is certainly true -- I am not trying to be cynical here, but it is true of a lot of agencies where there is an affected industry. The industry is very much listened to by the FCC. I am making no allegations of anything inappropriate, but I think anyone looking, any observer looking at the FCC over the course of time cannot help but recognize that the purpose of the FCC and the purpose of the communications Act as a whole, clearly, it is to honor the public interest. There''s no question about that. You see references to the public interest all over the place in the law. But really, it is about managing a very complex and pretty lucrative, very cost-rich, you know, industry of communications and technology. And so you know, the FCC has a public interest role, but it also has a role to play in terms of managing and helping companies live with each other. And so in that sense, you know, the FCC may not necessarily be that keen on opening up on its own sort of motion, if you will, investigations. They certainly can and should be encouraged to do so. But we have our own mechanism to get the commission to focus on things, whether they are keen on doing it or not, and that is the complaint process. And I will say that I think the disability community as a whole -- I am looking at myself in the mirror here -- we did not do as good of a job as we could have with Section 255. By the way, it is still enforced. 255 is not dead letter. But we have not done as good of a job making use of the complaint process as we need to. So excellent question. Have to work with the FCC on encouraging them, especially as we move forward with the CVAA and a number of areas we may very well need their help to do it. But they may very well be reluctant to open up such investigations. So that''s why the complaint process is so critical.
All right. And again, a very fluid industry in terms of emerging technologies. And to that, and before we check for a question on the telephone, I will get to this next question. Questioner wants to know is it -- you know, is it realistic to think that assistive technology can keep up in this current world where technologies change so quickly if there are not overreaching technical requirements for software and hardware?
I mean, I think what we have tried to do from a public policy point of view is to say, you know, we recognize that people have very strong feelings about this, about this whole question of is it the company''s responsibility to build an accessibility, or do they simply need to comply with certain standards and therefore allow AT? And some people argue that under Section 255, it looked like there was a priority given to built-in accessibility over compatibility. And I can see why they might say that. I think as a practical matter, that''s not what -- how most of us thought 255 was to be structured. But we took great pains to say in the CVAA you could take one of two approaches. You can build in accessibility, you can make your stuff compatible. Whether or not AT can keep up with changes, you know, what we have said is that''s a different -- that''s a different kettle of fish. Our focus is on the mainstream companies, mainstream equipment manufacturers and service providers who need to make a choice. They need to make a choice of either building in access or making their stuff more compatible. And you know, it is a real -- it is a real tough thing. I mean, the World Blind Union, for example, most recently, passed a resolution that essentially called on technology companies -- they had Microsoft in mind, but certainly, there are -- companies generally -- to make a priority of building in accessibility. There are plenty of people who make the argument that that''s a fool''s errand because maybe they will never do it in an effective way or a way that meets all of the unique needs of people with disabilities who obviously have a diverse set of needs. So I do not know that I am answering your questioner''s question, but frankly, I am not sure that from a policy point of view that is something that we can answer. I think the best that we can do is put in the hands of the consumer with disabilities the tools -- the legal tools, such as they are -- for enforcing or compelling companies to do the right thing. And in this case, we are not making a judgment about what the right thing is, either to build in access or to make their stuff compatible with AT. We are simply saying whatever you -- whatever strategy you pick, accessibility is the end goal.
Very good. Diane, do we have any questions on the telephone at this point?
Yes, we have one question coming from Michelle Davis. Your line is open.
Yes. Hello. In the event of a man-made or natural disaster, we know those living with a functional or access need are more at risk, and we have been encouraging those in our groups to get ham radio operator licenses in case your land lines are down or your cell phones. We are thinking that would be an alternative. Now, after listening in on all this conversation, are you aware, are there going to be some functional difficulties with the ham radio?
I am not aware of any of those. Honestly, the work that the CVAA tries to accomplish is breaking down this weird and we think very overcome-able -- if that''s a word -- maybe it is now -- you know, barrier of simply allowing text to roll across a television screen without anyone describing to you what that is and what that information is all about. I mean, I think everyone recognizes as a practical matter that in the case of an emergency, there are a number of possible sources of information that all people with and without disabilities can turn to. Hopefully we have access -- we can turn on a radio. We can ask someone for help. And on and on. There are lots of channels for information. What we have said in the CVAA is with respect to video programming devices, any kind of digital TV and on and on, that emergency information is so critical that we cannot simply allow that information to appear on the screen visually and to be accompanied by some tone without some production of that material in an accessible format, namely, an audible form. And you mentioned folks with cognitive and other issues. I mean, certainly, we advocated -- and I can swear on a stack of Bibles in front of this group that I certainly did, along with everyone else, to make it clear that when we are talking about people with disabilities, we mean the entire community of people with disabilities. This is not just about folks who are blind or folks who are deaf. We did -- ultimately, the Congress ultimately did hear from a number of industry groups in a number of instances where they said, you know, gosh, that''s far too broad, and we do not know what the heck these advocates are talking about. And so we are going to limit the language of this bill, anyway, to folks who are blind or folks who are visually impaired, and that''s unfortunate, but as a -- I think a practical matter, what happens is, you know, what will result, if we are successful, is a multimodal delivery of emergency information. So it will be on the screen, as it always is now, in some sort of a text or graphic form, and then the information will also be presented in an audible fashion. I think that audible information will be of benefit to many, many, many more people with and without disabilities other than just people who are blind or visually impaired. At least that''s our hope.
Excellent. Sticking with the 21st Century Act, this questioner submitted electronically wants to know does the -- does the Act address other disabilities and access? For example, the ability for individuals with limited dexterity, to operate remote controls that control the -- you know, the on-screen menus or recording devices that are used, DVRs and the like? Does the 21st Century Act address those types of issues?
It is to a limited extent. I can tell you, it is interesting you mentioned remote controls. You would be amazed -- or maybe you had know this all too well -- and I suspect from this question you are well aware of the struggle -- about the extent to which industry groups fight over, you know, the remote control and protect it from being, you know, tampered with in any way on the grounds that, look, you know, there''s only so many buttons, there''s only so much design change that we can accommodate, because after all, the average consumer is going to gripe about it. You know, the law does not go nearly as far as it needs to with respect to these kinds of issues, at least with respect to Title II. Title I, having to do with advanced communications, I think goes a bit farther in terms of recognizing that you''ve got a range of -- of abilities within the community of people with disabilities, and we need to ensure the accessibility of electronic messaging and interoperable via conferences, non-interconnected VoIP, Skype-like products, you know, in a way that honors the full array of special needs in our community.
Excellent. We have got one more from online before we check back with Diane. This Questioner says I hear the term "video description" and "closed captioning" used interchangeably, but I think that is incorrect. Would you explain both terms?
I love this question. I had a friend who was a sign language interpreter -- is a sign language interpreter -- and the two of us were in a relationship at one point, people said, oh, you guys must really be able to communicate really well. She knows sign language, and you are blind. You must be able to communicate. It never ceases to amaze me how people confuse video description and captioning or the need of folks who are blind or folks who are deaf. It is like the stereotype of talking too loud to a blind person. And by the way, another thing where this plays out in a manner that may be of significance for this presentation is you would be amazed -- or maybe you would not -- at the number of times industry groups think that the accommodation that is needed by someone who is blind or visually impaired is the ability to have speech recognition, as if blind people who do not have any other disability struggle to talk. I think I have dispelled that notion on this call. We do not have any trouble talking. It is getting information out of a gizmo that we are looking for. So it is even more text to speech that we are looking for. But it is amazing how people confuse these terms, and we have tried to make it clear that captioning, closed or open, is the process by which dialogue, audible dialogue, is rendered in text form for folks primarily who are deaf/hard of hearing, but obviously, you know, it is of benefit to many, many more folks beyond that. And closed versus open has to do with whether or not the user must select the captions and whether or not by selecting them they appear on your screen or they do not. And so the video description side, of course, of this is the use of, essentially, a voiceover, you know, a voiceover narration of visual elements that you will see in a television program that are not otherwise communicated through dialogue or something else that you can detect. And so essentially, what this is, you know, again, it is something that the user has to select, like closed captioning, you can turn it on or off, and people -- the average user is not going to know that any of this stuff is there unless they actively turn it on. Video description is the same way, where this voiceover can be selected. Incidentally, one of the things that the CVAA tries to do -- and I meant to mention this in the previous question about remote controls -- is the whole business of making it easier to access closed caption and description, and so the question then became, you know, should there be a button or a -- you know, a physical button on the remote control or a physical button on your set-top box or your television? And you would not believe -- or maybe you would -- the push-back from industry about dedicating a button for that purpose, even though the CVAA is pretty clear that there needs to be some kind of readily identifiable control so that the person with disabilities is not spending the entire hour of their, you know, favorite reality television show trying to figure out where the captioning or description button is. But the CVAA is intended to make the process of finding how to actuate the captioning and description easier. But I did not have time to mention during the lecture that this whole -- a lot of these things in Title II about video programming, you know, description, emergency information, that stuff is still in process. The FCC is still wrestling with the rulemakings in those areas. So I think we have a general sense of where all that''s going, but you know, we may have to -- if somehow I could wrangle an invitation two or three years from now to come back and talk with this group, you know, we can talk then about sort of what the FCC has done to implement provisions like these.
Diane, do we have another question on the telephone at this time? Diane?
Got a bad connection with you there, Diane.
No questions from the phone line.
Okay. Thank you, got through that time. All right, Mark, another one from online, you talked a little bit about digital books. This questioner wants to know is there any national or industry standard for publishers in providing digital or electronic books, so specifically in the educational arena, so postsecondary education?
There are an array of standards that are available, even something like the use of an accessible PDF form could certainly be -- you know, some would argue that that''s an appropriate use. There are e-book standards that have been developed by the so-called DAISY Consortium, other groups. There are lots of standards. The real question is whether or not anyone is going to implement them effectively. And so you know, that''s a real challenge. And part of the challenge there is, you know, how do you compel a publisher to make use of one standard or another? In the educational world, certainly in the K-12 educational materials world, the way that we try to tackle it -- I have even mentioned this earlier, but you know, it is been on the books since 2004 as part of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act -- essentially what we have said is, you know, not that publishers -- the law does not say to publishers thou shalt give us material in accessible format. What the law says is that K-12, you know, state education agencies or local education agencies, when they are purchasing books from publishers, the agreement or purchase order, whatever, the mechanism is that they use to procure those books needs to be clear that publishers will provide material, in that case, in an electronic format that complies with this so-called national instructional materials accessibility standard or NIMAS. Yet one more standard that talks about the use of Extensible Markup Language (XML) and coding and well beyond now. That''s the issue is there''s a lot of work that has been done, and people a lot smarter than me, about how to actually do the coding of the stuff to make it accessible. We do not suffer from a lack of standards as much as we suffer from a lack of compliance, and so the real question becomes how do we make that happen? I think, you know, some groups have looked at, for example, in higher education context, how in the world are we going to improve access to the whole wealth of materials? I mean, it is not just the paper book anymore. In fact, some people might argue a paper textbook is dead or dying. And so the question becomes how do we make sure that the multiple -- you know -- ways in which information is delivered is accessible? In the higher education world, it is really, really tough because unlike K-12, where you know what the textbooks are going to be, essentially -- I mean, it is a fairly limited world of materials in the K-12 area because of the way our states and local education agencies make decisions about what they purchase -- the higher education world, it could be anything. It could be anything under the sun for all intents and purposes, and often is. So the sheer scope of material that we would be jumping on in the higher education world is so broad that the real challenge is not so much, you know, what standard is appropriate or are there any standards that work. There are standards that most assuredly do work, and ones that are being refined all the time, whether you are talking about multimedia, you know, audiovisual files, mobile app standards, and on and on and on. The real question is how do we make sure that the industries that are supposed to incorporate those standards so that the stuff is more accessible, how do we get to them? And that''s a real challenge because there''s not likely to be anytime soon a law that says publisher of this material, thou shalt do it. We are not structured in this country to impose such an obligation.
Right. Excellent, Mark! Well, we have gotten to the bottom of the hour, and a whole lot of great information, Mark, truly, truly appreciate it. Anyone that, you know, did not get their questions answered, you can submit them to us through ADA conferences at adagreatlakes.org, and we can follow up with Mark on those. Just as a reminder, today''s session has been -- is being recorded, and the transcript and audio archive will be available on the ADA Audio website in 7 days. www.ADA-audio.org. I want to remind folks that our April session is coming up on April 16, and that will be looking at extracurricular athletic opportunities for students with disabilities, what are the issues? You can get information, and you can register for that session by visiting www.ADA-audio.org. Or you can contact us by calling 877-232-1990 if you have any questions on that. To reach your ADA -- your regional ADA Center, you can contact them by calling 800-949-4232. Again want to thank Mark for all of the great information that he has provided to us today and want to thank all of you for joining us. At this time, the audio conference has ended, and for those of you in the webinar room simply close your Internet browser to exit the webinar room, and those on the telephone can simply hang up. Thank you, and good day. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your participation in today''s conference. This does end your conference call for today. You may now disconnect and have a great day.