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Net neutrality is a go. Now FCC looks to address disabled needs

There was a bit of fanfare last week when the Federal Communications Commission decided to bring the Internet under its protective wing.

In recording a 3-2 vote in favor of net neutrality, the head of the FCC said the Internet said that Internet has shown itself to be "the most powerful and pervasive platform on the planet." And he said to let the players in the game, that is, Internet providers, carry on without a referee would be ultimately detrimental for consumers.

What the decision means is that companies that provide Internet services can't control online speeds and traffic, prioritizing who gets what Web services based on who's willing to pay the most.

The issue isn't expected to simply fade into that good night of bureaucratic oversight activity, though. Providers who object to the rules indicate legal challenges will be made and Republicans in Congress have introduced legislation that, while imposing some net neutrality restrictions, would put a crimp in the FCC's action.

As important as this action is, there is a related one that we took note of and want to highlight here. The FCC has announced that a 40-member committee will begin meeting this month. Its task will be to advise the agency on steps it can take to ensure that Americans with disabilities enjoy as many of the benefits of modern communications technology as possible.

According to the agency, the panel will be asked for ideas on everything from improving access to 911 services to the services that help those with hearing or speech disabilities make and receive phone calls.

Technology can be challenging for a person of average ability, so the fact that the government is exploring this area on behalf of those with disabilities is surely welcome by many.

But what can be a significant challenge for those who have been hurt on the job and are now unable to work is obtaining the disability benefits to which they are entitled. The process is confusing and often frustrating. Working with an experienced attorney is one way to be sure the best case is being made from the outset.

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Melissa A. Proudian, Attorney at Law
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