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No company has lobbied more fiercely against network neutrality than Verizon, which filed the lawsuit that overturned the FCC’s rules prohibiting ISPs from blocking and discriminating against Web content. But the absence of net neutrality rules isn’t just good for Verizon—it’s also good for the blind, deaf, and disabled, Verizon claims.

That’s what Verizon lobbyists said in talks with congressional staffers, according to a Mother Jones report last month. “Three Hill sources tell Mother Jones that Verizon lobbyists have cited the needs of blind, deaf, and disabled people to try to convince congressional staffers and their bosses to get on board with the fast lane idea,” the report said. With “fast lanes,” Web services—including those designed for the blind, deaf, and disabled—could be prioritized in exchange for payment.

Now, advocacy groups for deaf people have filed comments with the FCC saying they don’t agree with Verizon’s position.

"We also take this opportunity to express our concern over the reported contentions of at least one broadband provider that the Commission should facilitate ‘fast lanes’—essentially permitting paid prioritization—for the sake of accessibility," the groups wrote on July 18, adding a footnote that links to the Mother Jones article. "While we strongly believe that Internet-based services and applications must be made accessible, we also believe that doing so is possible on an open network and without the need for broadband providers to specifically identify traffic from accessibility applications and separate it out for special treatment.

"To the extent that accessibility-specific applications implicate non-commercial prioritization concerns such as quality-of-service guarantees, we believe those concerns likely can be addressed on the same terms as other, similar applications through the Commission’s case-by-case approach to its exception for reasonable network management," the filing continued. "In no case should accessibility considerations form a basis for permitting paid prioritization more broadly, and the Commission should reject any overture to the contrary."

Deaf advocacy groups to Verizon: Don’t kill net neutrality on our behalf | Ars Technica

As the article later notes, the advocacy groups favor reclassifying broadband as a common carrier (Title II) service, which gives the FCC much greater authority to ensure that the needs of people with disabilities are being met. That’s pretty much the opposite of what Verizon is arguing for.

(via jenn2d2)

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