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Emergency Access Advisory Committee Buys More Time to Make Suggestions on E911 Upgrade
By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor
EAAC is a committee that was founded as part of the 21st Century Communication and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA). The goal of the Act was to achieve equal access to 911 emergency services for individuals with disabilities as part of the migration to the national Internet protocol enabled emergency network or NG911.
NG911 is part of the push to upgrade E911 to include next-generation capabilities such as text-to-911 functionality.
“New wireless and IP-based communications devices are being developed at a rapid rate, offering capabilities such as text and video messaging. Unfortunately, the current 911 system was never intended to receive calls and data from these new and emerging technologies,” according to National Emergency Number Assocation.
From the Act in 2010 came EAAC, given a two-year mandate and tasked with a detailed analysis of the technical and policy barriers that impaired or impeded access to emergency communications, according to Mark Fletcher, one of the committee members. In particular, the EAAC was asked to conduct a survey regarding the most effective and efficient technologies and methods by which to enable access to 911 emergency services by individuals with disabilities.
The survey was completed in July 2011, and half a year later the committee put out a Final Report. But with the remaining time on its mandate, it segmented itself into several specific subcommittees that performed additional research work in particular areas. The specific reports were due this month, but only three of the subcommittees had finished their work in time for the deadline.
“With much of the critical work being done, but other important work still needing to be delivered, the EAAC petitioned FCC Commissioner Genechowski to extend the charter of the EAAC for an additional three months,” explained Fletcher in his post on the issue. “Coinciding with other specific initiatives such as deployments of NG 911 networks, and several texting to 911 initiatives around the country, Commissioner Genechowski granted the request for extension, and provided six months instead of the three that were originally asked for, to ensure success.”
The subcommittees that have already completed their reports include those responsible for recommendations on text messaging to 911, Media Communication Line Services (translation services and functionality), and TTY transitional issues, according to Fletcher.
“Personally, I have to say it's been a great honor to work on this committee with some incredibly bright people,” commented Fletcher. “Those of us that have full use of our senses really take for granted how communication is such a big part of our daily existence. And it isn't until you stop to think that the legacy 911 infrastructure that exists today is completely useless to persons who are deaf, deaf-blind, and hard of hearing as well as individuals with speech disabilities.”
He added: “Not only does NG911 bring new features, functionality and capabilities to those of us who are not disabled, it makes ubiquitous conversation between anybody, including those with disabilities, achievable, affordable, and therefore deployable.”
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