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March 22, 2010

WGBH's National Center for Accessible Media Supports Goals of the FCC's National Broadband Plan

The Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family National Center for Accessible Media at public broadcaster WGBH/Boston (NCAM) supports the goals included in the Federal Communications Commission's National Broadband Plan that specifically address equal access for people with disabilities to affordable broadband and its related emergency services.

NCAM supports the Plan's Public Safety recommendations that specifically focus on the delivery of multi-format (e.g. text, audio, video) two-way emergency messaging for Next Generation 911 call centers, as well as for emergency and public safety notifications issued by Federal, state and local governments. Multi-modal messaging is essential for equal communication access that allows people who are deaf, late-deafened, hard of hearing, blind, deaf-blind or low-vision to send and receive emergency information in the format or formats that best accommodate their communication preferences. This fundamental principle underscores NCAM's work on the Department of Commerce's Technology Opportunities Fund grant "Access to Emergency Alerts for People with Disabilities"and its participation in the FCC's Commercial Mobile Service Alerts Advisory Committee (CMSAAC) and the Communications, Security, Reliability and Interoperability Council (CSRIC).

NCAM supports the Plan's recommendations that address the accessibility of IP-based NG911 communications devices, applications, and services. NCAM encourages the FCC to fulfill the Plan's recommendation for the FCC to initiate an additional proceeding to address how NG911 specifically moves beyond traditional voice-centric technologies, networks, architectures, and devices; and to quickly launch a comprehensive next-generation alert system inquiry. NCAM agrees that Congress should provide funding for NHTSA to analyze the costs of deploying a nationwide NG911 system that specifically includes an analysis of the needs of persons with disabilities to help inform the development of standards and protocols for NG911 and for incorporating VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) and "Real Time Text" standards.

Also of critical importance is the Plan's recommendation to preserve broadband communications during emergencies, recognizing that loss of essential services such as NG 911, alerts and warnings (including the Emergency Alert Service, or EAS) leaves the most vulnerable populations at the greatest risk. NCAM additionally supports the aspects of the Plan that address federal funding to enable state and local emergency services, including the plan to design a grant program to provide federal support to local efforts for capital and ongoing costs.

About NCAM and WGBH

The Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family National Center for Accessible Media at WGBH is a research, development and advocacy entity that works to make existing and emerging technologies accessible to all audiences. NCAM is part of the Media Access Group at WGBH, which also includes The Caption Center (est. 1972), and Descriptive Video ServiceĀ® (est. 1990). For more information, visit the Media Access Group's Web site, and follow the Media Access Group on Facebook and Twitter (AccessWGBH).

WGBH Boston is America's preeminent public broadcasting producer, the source of fully one-third of PBS's prime-time lineup, along with some of public television's best-known lifestyle shows and children's programs and many public radio favorites. Podcasts, vodcasts, iPhone apps, and more...WGBH creates content audiences use and value on the air, online, and on the go. Find more information at

March 22, 2010

Marcia Brooks
617 300-3431

Mary Watkins
617 300-3700