The compliance deadline for demonstrating compliance with the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (“CVAA”) is October 8th, 2013. All regulated providers of telecommunications services and telecommunications equipment manufacturers must ensure that all services, communications equipment, and underlying networks are accessible to individuals with disabilities in conformance with the FCC’s CVAA rules by this deadline.
CVAA compliance must be achieved by all service providers providing interstate telecommunications services, IP-based communications services (including interconnected VoIP, non-interconnected VoIP, and ancillary VoIP-based communications services), electronic messaging services, and interoperable video conferencing services. Manufacturers of equipment which provides these services must also ensure compliance with CVAA rules.
If you are uncertain about how to implement the new CVAA Rules, or the specific steps your company must take to ensure compliance, our firm is available to assist. First, we recommend that all companies review the background information contained in this email to ascertain compliance steps.
Clients that still have questions about compliance with the CVAA and the FCC’s disability accessibility requirements can purchase the firm’s CVAA Compliance Manual. This is a concise, easy way to ensure compliance with current and pending FCC disability compliance regulations imposed by the CVAA.
Clients that have further questions, or require dedicated assistance with disability compliance, are encouraged to consult with an attorney to conduct a CVAA Compliance Review. A CVAA Compliance Review will not only confirm your company’s compliance during the prior calendar year and identify areas that require further attention, but will also help ensure full compliance with the FCC’s rules effective October 2013, thereby making future reviews easier, faster, and less costly.
A fee schedule for legal services is as follows:
CVAA Compliance Fee Schedule
- CVAA Compliance Manual: $150
- CVAA Compliance Review: $500 – $1,500
Section 255 of the Communications Act of 1934 requires telecommunications service providers and equipment manufacturers to ensure that their services and equipment are accessible to individuals with disabilities, if readily achievable. In 2007, the FCC adopted rules to extend these accessibility obligations to interconnected VoIP service providers and equipment manufacturers. In 2010, Congress enacted the CVAA, which added additional accessibility obligations to the Communications Act.
General CVAA requirements are as follows:
- Regulated providers must ensure that services and equipment are accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities, unless doing so is not achievable.
- Regulated providers must keep records of compliance with the CVAA and certify recordkeeping compliance with the FCC on an annual basis.
- Device manufacturers and providers of mobile services must ensure that Internet browsers, which include voice communications, are usable by individuals who are blind or have a visual impairment, unless doing so is not achievable.
The CVAA’s recordkeeping and certification requirements apply to all service providers and manufacturers that are subject to Sections 255, 716 and 718 of the Communications Act.
- Section 255 requires manufacturers of telecommunications equipment or customer premises equipment and telecommunications service providers to ensure that their equipment and/or services are accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities.
- Section 716 extends similar accessibility and usability requirements to manufacturers and providers of “advanced communications services,” which include interconnected VoIP, non-interconnected VoIP, electronic messaging and interoperable video services.
- Section 718 requires manufacturers and providers of telephones used for public mobile service that include an Internet browser to ensure that the functions of the browser are accessible and usable by persons with disabilities.
Telecommunications carriers, and to some extent interconnected VoIP service providers, were already required to make their services accessible to persons with disabilities, but they did not have corresponding recordkeeping and certification requirements.
Pursuant to an annual certification, filed April 1st, all regulated communications service providers and equipment manufacturers must certify that the company has instituted recordkeeping policies and procedures necessary to document the company’s efforts to ensure all communications services and equipment subject to Sections 255, 716 and 718 are accessible to individuals with disabilities.
Under the FCC’s rules, all regulated service providers and equipment manufacturers must maintain records of the efforts taken to implement the CVAA, as follows:
- Information about efforts to consult with individuals with disabilities;
- Descriptions of the accessibility features of its products and services; and
- Information about the compatibility of such products and services with peripheral devices or specialized customer premise equipment commonly used by individuals with disabilities to achieve access.
Compliance Certification Requirements
On April 1st all regulated service providers and equipment manufacturers must file with the FCC an annual certification that records are being kept in accordance with the statute. The certification must state that the manufacturer or service provider has established operating procedures adequate to ensure compliance with the recordkeeping rules, and that it is keeping records accordingly.
The certification must also identify the name and contact details of the person (or persons) within the company who is authorized to resolve complaints and the agent designated for service of informal and formal complaints. The certification must be updated when necessary to keep the contact information current.
Contact information submitted to the FCC will be publically available on the FCC’s website. Contact information will be used by the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau to serve informal and formal complaints. The information will also be used by the FCC for the purpose of contacting a company to facilitate resolution of an accessibility issue when a consumer files a request for dispute assistance.
FULL COMPLIANCE WITH ACCESSIBILITY REQUIREMENTS
All clients are advised that by October 8, 2013 all entities covered by the CVAA must be in compliance with the FCC’s disability access rules. This means that all regulated products or services offered to the public must be accessible and useable by persons with disabilities, unless not achievable. In addition, information and documentation such as bills, customer support and call centers regarding a product must be accessible to individuals with disabilities.
Failure to achieve compliance will likely result in fines and penalties for non-compliance. The FCC is in the process of developing a dedicated CVAA complaint process to assist with enforcement of accessibility and usability requirements. Through this process consumers will have direct access to the FCC’s enforcement of the new requirements, and the FCC has indicated that it will take all complaints seriously. Hence compliance with all the new CVAA regulations and recordkeeping requirements is imperative.