Last week, the FCC issued a Notice of Apparent Liability (“NAL”) proposing to fine Verizon $100K for failing to produce adequate records concerning the accessibility of its Premium Visual Voicemail service to customers with disabilities. In a previous client advisory, we reported the Commission granted a consumer complaint alleging that Verizon’s voicemail service is inaccessible, because the company did failed to produce any documentary evidence supporting its claim the service was. And now, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau has officially initiated forfeiture proceedings against the company.
The enforcement proceeding against Verizon highlights that it is critical that equipment manufacturers and service providers maintain detailed records demonstrating their due diligence in exploring accessibility and achievability throughout the design, development, testing, and deployment stages of covered products and services. As the NAL explains, “Such documents are essential for the Commission to fulfill its statutory obligation to investigate the allegations in an informal complaint and issue an order determining whether a violation has occurred” within the 180-day statutory deadline to issue an order resolving an accessibility or usability complaint under the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act.
Verizon now faces a $100,000 fine not because its service is not accessible to or usable by subscribers with disabilities, but merely because the company either could not, or chose not to, provide to the FCC (upon request) records that would have enabled Commission staff to evaluate and decide whether the Company’s Premium Visual Voicemail service was or was not accessible under Section 255 of the Communications Act and implementing FCC regulations.
Don’t let your company face steep fines for inadequate accessibility records, especially if your company goes above and beyond to include customers with disabilities. To review your company’s accessibility recordkeeping practices, or to discuss your substantive disability access obligations, please contact Michal J. Nowicki, Esq., at (703) 714-1311 or email@example.com.