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January 26, 2021

CTIA Hosts 8th Annual Accessibility Outreach Initiative (AOI) Forum

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    CTIA Hosts 8th Annual Accessibility Outreach Initiative (AOI) Forum

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    During the 8th Annual Accessibility Outreach Initiative (AOI) Forum, CTIA hosted industry leaders, policymakers, and representatives from the accessibility community in a virtual format. The Forum celebrated key wireless milestones for people with disabilities, and explored how the wireless industry is continuing to serve the needs of the accessibility community.

    Keynote remarks were delivered by CTIA President and CEO Meredith Attwell Baker, U.S. Senator Ed Markey, and FCC Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau (CGB) Chief Patrick Webre. Panelists from across the accessibility community and wireless industry discussed an array of topics, including the Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA), keeping Americans connected during COVID-19, and updates from the FCC Hearing Aid Compatibility (HAC) Task Force.

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    CTIA President and CEO Meredith Attwell Baker delivers keynote remarks during the 2020 Accessibility Outreach Initiative (AOI) Forum

    FCC CGB Chief Webre has been a leader in the accessibility space—contributing expertise in the FCC advisory committees including the North American Numbering Council. Webre noted that the 10th anniversary of the CVAA provides an opportunity to reflect on the progress that has been made throughout the evolution of accessible communications and devices. He shared findings from the FCC 2020 CVAA Biennial Report, highlighting how smartphones continue to innovate and incorporate features that enable improved access to communications services.  

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    Panel 1: The Tenth Anniversary of the CVAA

    The first panel included disability access consultant Karen Peltz Strauss, AT&T Director of Global Public Policy Susan Mazrui, Comcast Vice President of Accessibility and Multicultural–Technology and Product Tom Wlodkowski, and American Printing House for the Blind Vice President of Government and Community Affairs Paul Schroeder. The panel was moderated by CTIA Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Matthew Gerst. Panelists discussed the CVAA and how its passage allowed companies to determine how to best facilitate the goals established by the FCC. 

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    Panel 2: Keeping Americans Connected During COVID-19

    The second panel included T-Mobile Director of Government Affairs, Technology, and Engineering Policy Shellie Blakeney, Verizon Manager of Public Policy and Strategic Alliances Zachary Bastian, Coleman Institute Co-Director for Policy and Advocacy Dr. Shea Tanis, and the Project to Get Older Adults Online Executive Director Debra Berlyn, and was moderated by CTIA Director of External Affairs Harry Anastopulos. Panelists explored how wireless played an essential role in keeping Americans connected during COVID-19. 

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    Panel 3: HAC Task Force Update

    The final panel included HAC Task Force Chair and Apple Software Engineering Accessibility Standards Manager James Craig as well as Hearing Loss Association of America Director of Public Policy Lise Hamlin, and was moderated by CTIA Director of Regulatory Affairs Sarah Leggin. Panelists provided insights from the FCC HAC Task Force and its collaborative work with leaders within the community to promote device accessibility for individuals experiencing hearing loss.

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    Closing Remarks

    The Forum concluded by addressing audience questions fielded by CTIA Assistant Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Kara Graves and final closing remarks from CTIA Senior Vice President of External and State Affairs Jamie Hastings, who encouraged an ongoing discussion on how the wireless community can continue to serve the
    accessibility community in the years to come. 

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