FCC challenges cloud computing possibilities

Monday - 11/1/2010, 1:42pm EDT

Pam Gregory, Director of the FCC's Accessibility and Innovation Initiative

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By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor
FederalNewsRadio.com

The Federal Communications Commission has launched a contest for ideas on how cloud computing can help people with disabilities.

Pam Gregory, Director of the FCC's Accessibility and Innovation Initiative, told Federal News Radio the challenge is to "come up with a video that will actually end up in a product. It's a way for people to explain what we can do with cloud computing and actually have a tool that's going to be helpful to people with disabilities."

So the FCC has teamed up with the Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities, associated with the University of Colorado, Boulder; Silicon Flatirons, a Center for Law, Technology, and Entrepreneurship at the University of Colorado and Raising the Floor for "Lifted by the Cloud: Visions of Cloud-Enhanced Accessibility."

"Cloud is the future," explained Gregory.

What we're doing with the FCC's Accessibility and Innovation Initiative is we're trying to make sure that accessibility and disability is on the forefront of every new technology. So that's why we want to be there. We want to be there from day one reminding technologists, engineers, programmers, everyone, that we've got 54 million Americans with disabilities and we want them to participate in the new world.

There will be awards of $1,000 for the best presentation that addresses the interests of people with cognitive disabilities, and another $1,000 for the best presentation that addresses the interests of people in developing countries. Then, said Gregory, the most inspiring will be considered for the Chairman's Awards for Advancement in Accessibility.

Submissions are due May 1st of 2011. Gregory said the spring date was set, hoping to give students more of a chance to get involved.

The idea, said Gregory, is that "everyone has a certain amount of genius and has things to offer and why not take advantage of that? Certainly we can't come up with all the solutions ourselves, so we're looking outside the Commission to help us with these solutions."

This is the first time the FCC has used challenge.gov, a new GSA online platform for contests. Gregory noted, "it's all happening in the cloud,"