Draft Report from TEITAC Task Force on 255/508 differences, with proposals for TEITAC discussion
Note on format:
will denote deleted text.
The TEITAC Task Force on 255/508 differences met on December 6, 13, 20 and January 3. There was a consensus among the Task Force participants to bring these proposals to the TEITAC.
In reviewing the applicability of the November TEITAC draft provisions to products and services covered by Section 255, we found it useful to review coverage of Section 255 as currently determined by the FCC (see Part I, below). From that background of FCC rules and orders, the Task Force drew its main conclusion about the general applicability of the TEITAC provisions to Section 255 (Part II). We agreed on proposed introductory language which reflects the general applicability of provisions (Part III). We identified provisions which do not appear to be applicable to Section 255 (Part IV). We identified provisions which appear to need modification with respect to their applicability to Section 255 (Part V). Finally, we found one issue out of scope, and note that issue for the full Committee for their consideration (Part VI).
Section I. It is the Task Force’s understanding that the FCC’s rules and orders implementing Section 255 generally apply to products and services as described below.
- Entities Covered by Section 255 — The FCC has identified specific entities covered by its rules. They are:
- Any provider of telecommunications services (47 CFR 6.1)
- The definition of Telecommunications Service is from the 1996 Telecommunications Act and is “offering telecommunications for a fee to the public”.
- Any manufacturer of telecommunications equipment or customer premises equipment (CPE) ( 47 CFR 6.1)
- The definition of telecommunications equipment is from the Telecommunications Act and is, generally, equipment used by a carrier to provide telecommunication service.
- CPE is also from the Telecommunications Act and is equipment employed on the premises of a person other than a carrier to originate, route or terminate telecommunications.
- Any telecommunications carrier (47 CFR 6.1)
- The definition of telecommunications carrier is from the Telecommunications Act and is, generally, a provider of telecommunications services.
- Any provider of interconnected VoIP service (47 CFR 6.1)
- The FCC has established a four part definition of interconnected VoIP. Interconnected VoIP is a service that:
- Enables real-time, two-way voice communications;
- requires a broadband connection from the user’s location;
- requires internet protocol-compatible customer premise equipment (CPE);
- permits users generally to receive calls that originate on the public switched telephone network and to terminate calls to the public switched network.
Note: The definition of interconnected VoIP does not depend on whether the service is offered for a fee. The definition does include the ability both to terminate and to originate calls on the PSTN. For example, the FCC has determined that neither Skype, Skype In or Skype Out meets the definition at this time.
- Any manufacturer of equipment or CPE specifically designed to provide interconnected VoIP. (47 CFR 6.1)
- Any provider of voicemail or interactive menu service. (47 CFR 7.1)
- Any manufacturer of telecommunications equipment or CPE which performs a voicemail or interactive menu function. (47 CFR 7.1)
- Covered Functions — The FCC has clarified specific functions that are covered by its rules. They are:
- Information, documentation and training (47 CFR 6.11 and 7.11)
- “Manufacturers and service providers shall ensure access to information and documentation it provides to its customers, if readily achievable. Such information and documentation includes user guides, bills, installation guides for end-user installable devices, and product support communications, regarding both the product in general and the accessibility features…”
- Only functions related to a covered service are covered by the rules.
- “An entity that provides both telecommunications services and non-telecommunications services, however, is subject to section 255 only to the extent that it provides a telecommunications service.” (September 1999 255 Order, FCC 99-181, paragraph 80.)
- “In connection with multipurpose equipment, we adopt our tentative conclusion that CPE is covered by section 255 only to the extent that it provides a telecommunications function.” (September 1999 255 Order, FCC 99-181, paragraph 87)
Section II. Our interpretation is that the provisions in the TEITAC draft generally also apply to Section 255, except as noted in Sections IV and V below.
Section III. We therefore propose that the general relevance of the TEITAC provisions to Section 255 be explained with the introductory language and rationale outlined below. The language in subsections A and B below is identical to the language in the October 26 draft. The language in subsection C is new.
- Language for Section 1194 Purpose. The Task Force agreed to recommend to the TEITAC the inclusion of the language of the current November 27 EWG draft in Section 1194.1 Purpose, describing the 255 related purpose of the guidelines. This language closely tracks the current rules regarding the coverage of the Section 255 rules, gives context to the rest of the draft and clarifies the difference in scope between Section 508 (procurement) and the Section 255 guidelines (design and manufacture).
- Language for Section 1194.2 Application. The Task Force agreed to recommend to the TEITAC the following in Section 1194.2 Application:
- Add a subheading, “Section 508” at the beginning of this section to denote the current provisions are for Section 508 purposes.
- Add a second section, “Section 255”, followed by the language currently entitled Version 4 and Version 5. This language is from the current 255 guidelines modified to include interconnected VoIP. The Application section would then have two subsections, one generally describing the obligations under section 508 and the other generally describing the obligations under 255.
- Rationale. We propose the following language as a blanket rationale for the provisions regarding Section 255.
“In establishing the rules implementing Section 255, the FCC has defined the types of products and services which must comply with the rules. The FCC has determined that the 255 rules also apply to information and documentation associated with the covered products, as well as information and documentation necessary to use the covered products. This information and documentation includes user guides, bills, installation guides for end-user installable devices, and product support and communications. Technical standards that would improve the accessibility of any of the items covered by Section 255, whether a phone, a printed user guide, or a web-based billing function, would be candidates for inclusion in the Access Board’s Section 255 guidelines. Unless otherwise noted, the technical standards apply to section 255, because they are necessary to make the covered products accessible to and usable by people with disabilities, consistent with Section 255.”
Section IV. We believe the following provisions are not relevant to the Section 255 guidelines, because they would create obligations for federal agencies.
- Subpart D, 5.2.3 2-A Relay Service Accessibility
- Subpart D, 5.2.3 2-B Video Support
- Subpart D, 5.2.3 2-D Accessible Content
Section V. We believe the Accessibility Configuration provision needs modification for Section 255 purposes. In addition, we identified an element of that provision missing from the November 27 which we believe should be reinstated. The Accessibility Configuration requirement can be found at Subpart D, 5.2.3 2-C of the November 27 Draft.
- Reinstatement of Missing Language. The Task Force noted that the Accessibility Configuration provision changed materially between the October 26 draft and the November 27 draft. The October language placed an affirmative obligation on agencies to activate features and configure products to be accessible (1.2 A of the General Technical Requirements of the October 26 draft). The Task Force recommends that this clear agency obligation from the October draft be reinstated and placed in the “Implementation, Operation and Maintenance” Section. The language to be reinstated is below:
“In complying with this subpart, each agency must activate accessibility features and configure products so that they are accessible to and usable by people with disabilities.”
- Modifications to November Draft Language. The Task Force recommends three changes to the Accessibility Configuration language in the November draft:
- The Task Force recommends that the requirements in the November draft be included in the 255 guidelines and be moved into the “General Technical Requirements” section as modified below:
} must be capable of being configured to be accessible to
[and usable by
] people with disabilities while simultaneously meeting the product’s function. The accessibility features should not
> disable any functions.
Please note that “usable by” is bracketed, because the Task Force wanted the TEITAC to discuss the inclusion of usable, as defined in the November draft, in provisions that would apply to Section 508 as well as Section 255. The Task Force would like the TEITAC to discuss whether to leave usable to in, take it out or keep “usable by” for section 255 only.
- The Task Force recommends that a note should be added to the provision to read as follows:
“Note: For purposes of Section 255, “products” are the telecommunications equipment, voicemail and interactive menu equipment, interconnected VoIP equipment and CPE covered by the FCC’s rules implementing section 255.”
- The TF recommends an additional note be added to the provision generally, not just for Section 255 purposes. The proposed language for the note is below:
“Note: This provision is not intended to prevent a product feature that would allow the user to tie product functions together (e.g. turning one on would turn another off) so long as turning on an accessibility feature did not turn off other product functions by default.”
Section VI. We also note the following issue which came up in our discussions, for which no specific resolution was reached in time.
- There was discussion regarding placing an obligation to activate accessibility features and configure products so that they are accessible on telecommunications carriers and VoIP providers under the auspices of Section 255 similar to the obligation placed on agencies.
- The lack of jurisdiction of the Access Board over telecom carriers and VoIP providers, and thus the appropriateness of such a recommendation here, was discussed. No resolution was reached.