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FCC Puts Focus On Web Accessibility

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Nearly 40 percent of Americans without high-speed internet have disabilities, according to the first-ever federal working paper on internet accessibility.

People with disabilities largely cite the same reasons for limited access to high-speed internet as their non-disabled peers, according to the paper issued this month by the Federal Communications Commission. Cost is a top concern followed by limited computer literacy and a lack of interest in internet content.

But the white paper does point out that these barriers can be exacerbated for those with disabilities. For example, assistive technology devices some people need in order to access the internet can make new technology cost prohibitive.

The paper is part of the National Broadband Plan, a comprehensive effort to expand internet access across the country. It lays out a series of recommendations — including the establishment of working groups and an update of accessibility laws — to better understand barriers and improve access for those with disabilities.

“Only 42 percent of people with disabilities have high-speed internet services at home –and an astounding 39 percent of all non-adopters have a disability,” said Joel Gurin, chief of the consumer and governmental affairs bureau at the FCC. “This is not acceptable and we are implementing an ambitious accessibility agenda to ensure that people with disabilities are not left behind.”

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