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FCC Chairman Honors Accessible Technology

Narrator HD Radio receiver among innovative products

During the holiday season the FCC honored innovators in accessibility communications.

At a ceremony at the FCC’s headquarters, Chairman Julius Genachowski bestowed awards to six winners along with two honorable mentions. The honor recognizes what the agency says is outstanding private and public sector ventures in accessibility and innovation.

The winners were chosen in six different categories: consumer empowerment information; mobile applications; civic participation solutions; education: college or university; video programming and geolocation solutions.

For radio, the Best Buy’s Narrator won an award. The AM/FM/HD Radio receiver is designed with tactile and voice controls for both visually impaired and sighted users. The Narrator is endorsed by the International Association of Audio Information Services as a radio reading services receiver.

The buttons on the unit are larger than normal, with raised lettering. The units are shipped with the accessible mode as the default, so when a blind or visually-impaired purchaser turns it on, the user is prompted to tune the radio with voice commands.

A sighted user can turn off the accessible voice command feature.

Metropolitan Washington Ear Executive Director Neely Oplinger, Best Buy Senior Merchandiser Mike Dahnert and iBiquity Digital VP/General Counsel Al Shuldiner accepted the award. The Narrator and other winners will be displayed at the commission’s Technology Experience Center through Dec. 31.

The chairman thanked the winners, saying: “The work you have done, and will continue to do, to advance accessibility efforts mean that many more individuals can now vote, operate their radios, enjoy cultural experiences, catch the bus and benefit from video description — things that they may not have been able to do before. Your efforts mean that people with disabilities can enjoy the wonder of our nation’s emerging communications technologies, and ultimately lead better lives.”