Michal J Nowicki is an Associate Attorney at Marashlian & Donahue, PLLC, The CommLaw Group. He helps clients comply with a wide range of telecommunications laws. Mr. Nowicki has advised clients on exemptions from Universal Service Fund (USF) contribution requirements, new Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules strengthening access to E911 emergency services, and regulation of telecommunications carriers by state public utilities commissions (PUC). He has also given software developers and service providers guidance on telemarketing and call recording laws. Mr. Nowicki’s primary area of expertise, however, centers around U.S. and Canadian laws requiring access to telecommunications relay services, other forms of telecommunications, video content and equipment, and other digital products and services, by people with physical, sensory, and other disabilities.
Mr. Nowicki has a strong personal interest in the 21st-Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) and other accessibility laws. Even well before joining Marashlian & Donahue, Mr. Nowicki helped the National Federation of the Blind convince the FCC to deny Amazon’s petition for a permanent exemption from CVAA accessibility requirements for e-book readers. He has also worked closely with Comcast and DirecTV to ensure that both companies comply with FCC regulations requiring audio description for blind and low vision customers. Finally, Mr. Nowicki recently responded to the FCC’s request for public comments on how audio description rules have been implemented, hoping that the FCC will expand the requirements to cover video-on-demand programming and television broadcasts delivered over the Internet.
Mr. Nowicki closely monitors changes to the CVAA, the Accessible Canada Act (ACA), and other disability access laws affecting every sector of the telecommunications and information technology industries, including:
- Access to advanced communications services and the equipment used to provide such services by persons with sensory, physical, learning, and psychological disabilities
- Closed captioning of television broadcasts and online video programming;
- Audio description, access to emergency information conveyed in live video programming, and the accessibility of set-top boxes and other video playback equipment;
- The National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program;
- Telecommunications Relay Services (TRS) for persons with hearing and speech disabilities;
- Reporting responsibilities and other accessibility obligations of Canadian broadcasters and telecommunications service providers (TSPs) under laws enforced by the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC); and
- Updates to information and Communication technology accessibility generally, including enhancements to the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and procurement requirement developments under Section 508 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
Mr. Nowicki is also interested in, and has significant practical experience with, transactional matters. Mr. Nowicki prepares and reviews various types of contracts, including data services, non-disclosure, resale, and joint venture agreements. He reviewed complex software purchase, licensing, and maintenance agreements between Fortune 500 companies for Axiom Global Inc., a legal consulting company, and the gift agreement templates for the University of Illinois Foundation. Additionally, in law school, Mr. Nowicki took two contract drafting courses, in which he drafted a promissory note, security agreement, personal guarantee, and an asset purchase agreement.
Mr. Nowicki also occasionally supports the firm’s Dispute Resolution and Litigation practice. Mr. Nowicki advises clients at all stages of litigation on a wide array of topics ranging from Telecommunications and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) to breach-of-contract, data privacy, and other commercial claims.
- Counsel communications and video playback equipment manufacturers and resellers, interconnected and non-interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) providers, TRS providers, and software developers on their regulatory compliance obligations under all disability access laws enforced by the FCC and the CRTC;
- Prepare, file, and prosecute applications of Internet-based TRS (iTRS) providers for FCC certification to provide these services to U.S. residents with hearing and speech disabilities and obtain compensation for iTRS calls made and received through their platforms from the Interstate TRS Fund;
- Assist Canadian broadcasters and TSPs comply with CRTC reporting requirements under the ACA
- Advise equipment manufacturers, software designers, and all types of communications service providers on specific accessibility features they can incorporate into their products, services, and networks to satisfy applicable legal requirements, as well as to go beyond these requirements to leverage accessibility to expand their customer base to persons with a wide range of disabilities;
- Refer interested companies to trusted, third-party accessibility vendors for comprehensive accessibility audits of websites, software, and all types of end-user equipment with digital user interfaces, for compliance with the World Wide Web Consortium’s latest Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, Section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as amended, and other industry-recognized accessibility standards;
- Manage client relationships with third-party accessibility vendors;
- Assist all types of regulated communications service providers in all matters before the FCC and state public utility commissions, including applications for authorizations to provide services, regulatory approvals for transfers of control and other major corporate changes, and discontinuance of service;
- Draft demand letters on behalf of clients harmed by violations of telecom, technology, and other laws;
- Draft, review, and negotiate non-disclosure agreements and all types of contracts involving communications service providers, equipment suppliers, and their commercial partners;
Mr. Nowicki was selected to receive the 2022 University of Illinois College of Applied Health Sciences Harold Scharper Award. This award is given annually to a University of Illinois graduate with a disability who has achieved prominence in their field, positively impacted their community, and contributed to Harold Scharper’s vision of excellence. Harold Scharper is the first person with a disability to enroll in the University of Illinois.
Mr. Nowicki is a proud leader in the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois (NFBI), with which he has been involved for over a decade. Since November 2020, he has served as the organization’s elected treasurer: preparing its annual budget, strategically allocating grants to attract future donations, and managing tax obligations, among other responsibilities. Mr. Nowicki also co-chairs two important NFBI committees, which help blind Illinoisans live productive and independent lives, and shape official NFBI policies on a wide range of blindness issues.
Mr. Nowicki served as Staff Writer, and later as a Notes Editor, for the Illinois Business Law Journal during law school. He wrote two notes for the journal, both of which were published. Mr. Nowicki also recently wrote an article on the business opportunities for the automobile industry stemming from making fully autonomous vehicles accessible to persons with disabilities, which was published in the RFID Journal.
Mr. Nowicki graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Illinois at Chicago, majoring in Spanish and minoring in Russian; he also speaks Polish fluently. He earned his Juris Doctor degree at the University of Illinois College of Law.
Mr. Nowicki is admitted to practice law in the state of Illinois.