On December 30, 2011, the Federal Communications Commission's rules for ensuring the accessibility of Advanced Communication Services (e.g., VoIP, electronic text and interoperable video conferencing services) to persons with disabilities was published in the Federal Register, thus setting the effective date for the rules at January 30, 2012 (30 days from publication). (We previously discussed the rules as released by the FCC in an earlier post.) However, full compliance will not be required until October 8, 2013. The FCC expects covered entities to immediately begin incorporating accessibility features and considerations into their products and services to meet this deadline.

A covered entity's recordkeeping and certification obligations, however, are expected to become effective on January 30, 2013 (subject to OMB approval), with immediate compliance due thereafter. As discussed in our earlier post, on this date, covered entities (including legacy interconnected VoIP providers) must maintain records of compliance AND certify annually (under oath) to the FCC that such records are being maintained. The FCC has previously stated that it expects the first certification to be due in April 2013. Covered entities should begin contemplating policies and procedures for creating, maintaining and, if necessary, disclosing records, and identifying the appropriate person(s) for certifying to the FCC and handling complaints and inquiries.