Why killing net nutrality will hurt the disabled

In a matter of days the FCC will determine our freedom on the internet.

I know that sounds really drastic but it is true. Why should we care though? Because, fact is, disabled people need the internet.

There are a lot of things that make me want to question all humanity, simply because it seems that common sense is becoming more and more a luxury than anything else today. Why? Today, I read an article that’s just promoting nothing more than false intentions.

I’m on twitter a lot and I read what my followers post a great deal. When I saw the article about the notion that Verizon was fighting against Net Neutrality to benefit the disabled populace, I didn’t have anything clever to say. I didn’t have a retort to utter. I didn’t even have a tweet to formulate in wake of this. Ladies and gents, there’s simply no other word to describe what they are claiming and the propositions that they claim, other than one. It’s a word that fits all, I believe, given this context and the huge array of just false debauchery that Verizon is trying to cook up.


If you have not heard about the FCC and their latest plan to destroy the internet do a Google search for FCC and net neutrality. You will get some really interesting articles that basically outline what their new rules will entail.

It’s a proposal that would ban Internet providers from blocking or slowing down access to websites but may let them charge content companies for faster and more reliable delivery of their traffic to users.

It sounds good on paper and in a simple sentence like that. It’s not. I will briefly explain why.

Anything can be abused, including this new law. Internet service providers (ISPs), like Comcast or AT&T—believe that, as providers of internet access, they should be able to distribute bandwidth differently depending on the service.

They’d prefer, for example, to create tiers of internet service that’s more about paying for priority access than for bandwidth speeds. As such, in theory, they could charge high-bandwidth services—like Netflix, for example—extra money, since their service costs more for Comcast to provide to its customers—or they could charge users, like you and me, extra to access Netflix. They can also provide certain services to you at different speeds.

For example, perhaps your ISP might give preferential treatment to Hulu, so it streams Hulu videos quickly and for free, while Netflix is stuck running slowly (or we have to pay extra to access it). If you don’t think that won’t wrack up a huge bill, you are wrong.

How many people use cell phones and access Facebook, twitter, Netflix, ETC. This will affect everything that’s connected to the internet and they can all have a separate charge attached for that device to access websites and content.

This will also affect your tablets, game systems, ANYTHING that is hooked up to the internet. Knowing the USA, those fees can be taxed. enough said.

Imagine that Verizon or AT&T don’t like the idea of Google Voice, because it allows you to send text messages for free using your data connection. Your cellphone carrier could block access to Google Voice from your smartphone so you’re forced to pay for a texting plan from them. Or, they see that a lot of people are using Facebook on their smartphone, so even if they have the bandwidth to carry that traffic, they decide to charge you extra to access Facebook, just because they know it’s in high demand and that they can make a profit.

Obviously this will be great for people who have money spilling outa their pockets and who live in a financial bubble ignorant of the rest of us but I don’t think the FCC remembers that not everyone has money, If this rueling gets past it will ban some disabled people from using the internet. Let’s be real here.

Take SSI. How much is your internet bill per year now and how often do people on SSI rely on the internet and websites that host special content like Facebook, for social collaboration and school websites that often hold YouTube videos, which can have a steep price on it too on top of your internet bill if net neutrality is killed.

People on SSI or even SSDI won’t be able to pay all of that, given the fact that disabled people use the internet more than anything else for more than just socializing. People host teleconferences on Facebook, promote goods on blogs, the list goes on and I should not even have to point these out.

These ISP;s certainly won’t remember that not everyone has money because they want to have the money and they will want to have the money that they think they should have any way that they can get it, including charging people like you and I to use an email provider that isn’t with your default ISP like, for example, if you’re using Comcast and you look at your Gmail. Comcast could charge you to access Gmail even though Gmail is free.

The reason why blind people use Gmail is that it offers a lot of customization. For example, it offers free IMAP and POP3 access to mail clients. Yahoo does not.

This is why I say that Verizon is spewing illogical banter. There’s a stereotype about us Americans that say, frankly, we are greedy.

Verizon and Comcast really want to have this new rueling passed just so they can get more money and the fact that Verizon is using disabled people as a valuable excuse to justify why they want to kill Net Neutrality just so they can have more money really makes me, well, disappointed at my own country.

Hears the claim Verizon makes. Without a fast lane, disabled Americans could get stuck with subpar service as Internet traffic increases.

The issue that’s a constant problem isn’t even about the speed of access but, rather, the simple act of accessing something. I don’t understand how this will help us access something such as a website that isn’t designed to be accessible or obtaining some key information that’s in an accessible element on the inaccessible or partially accessible website. Since the internet often has inaccessible websites, even today, we would just turn to the phone, or, in my case, text one of my minions to look something up for me, adding a winking smiley at the end just because. The issue of speed doesn’t even culminate into a logical fit within this particular claim, if people really knew about screen readers and magnifiers and such. Instead of slower speeds dolling out a subpar service it’s the incomplete and botched content that we cannot access because developers didn’t make whatever accessible.

If there were, indeed, a way for ISPs to create two lanes of internet access, one slow, with costs to use all these demanding sites like Netflix and such, and one fast, combined with services like Facebook, it would ban a lot of disabled people from accessing some very key information all together all because of costs that would be designated by the ISP and then that would be yet another contender blind and visually impaired activists would have to constantly advocate for.

State rehabilitation will not pay for internet as is, and that’s just one monthly cost to access all websites and services. If this were to actually be enforced people with disabilities wouldn’t have access to certain sites at all because of the high costs that will, without a doubt, be determined by the ISP.

This could lead to loss of employment, fewer educational opportunities because this will affect schools too, and overall fewer productivity and would make the unemployment rate for disabled people increase because a lot of disabled people work from home, using many sites and services every day that wouldn’t be able to be accessed because, oh no! The bill is really high!

Speed is not the issue and it infuriates me that Verizon even uses that as a claim. If people know about screen readers, magnifiers, and accessibility issues with software and sites then they will see right through this fallacy. If they don’t know about disabled people and access technology it would be a simple conclusion that would make sense in their minds even though its hugely false, that speed would help us.

Access is an issue but the irony is access would be an even bigger issue, coupled with taxes and stuff, I’m sure, will be added onto these extra speed costs and costs to access content, thereby bridging the disabled homeless and otherwise on an even wider separation all because of money. Access won’t be an issue, it will morph into a barrier, one that will always be up.

This is just for work. Could you only imagine how disabled people wouldn’t have access to sites like twitter, where news is happening all day, every day? Oh my god!I don’t even want to entertain that nightmare.

I just cannot believe that Verizon would even say such a disingenuous thing. It won’t help disabled people at all. It would ban some from even using the internet, even some who are not disabled. I don’t think people who work at these companies know that not everyone works at Verizon or otherwise, but hey, in America, it’s all about the money. It’s all about the money.

About Robert Kingett

Robert Kingett is a journalist and author who writes and speaks about many subjects including LGBT and disability rights. His journalism work has appeared in several magazines, websites, and anthologies. He is the creator of Gaming Glimpse Magazine, a monthly publication that explores diversity in the gaming community as well as the founder of the Accessible Netflix Project. His memoir, entitled Off the Grid, is an account of living blindly without the Internet. You can find him on his personal blog at https://blindjournalist.wordpress.com/
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4 Responses to Why killing net nutrality will hurt the disabled

  1. Pingback: I wrote about net neutrality today | Robert W Kingett

  2. Richard says:

    Net Neutrality is nothing but government regulation and should be opposed at every turn. We need less government intrusion, not more. I am a totally blind person and I oppose Net Neutrality with every fiber of my being. This article is pure supposition and has no basis in fact. All I am reading here is a load of “what if” scenarios. The Internet has thus far gotten along without Net Neutrality since its inception in the late sixties and it will continue to get better only if market forces are allowed to direct the technology. Regulation will do more to lower the quality and performance of the Internet and will also do more to drive up prices than defeating it could possibly do. My hope is that Net Neutrality will be scrapped before the Internet falls down the irretrievable black hole of government regulation as have occurred with so many other endeavors in American life.

  3. Jean says:

    When the TV show “Last Week With John Oliver” brought up this issue, I wrote in my comments to the FCC that I could not afford “fast lane” service or any other charge to “improve” my internet on SSI. I use the internet to “stream” talking books and use digital library programs. There are many more people with disabilities like me.

  4. Great article. I talk and write a lot about web accessibility & recently consulted with the firm suing the Scribd online subscription library under the ADA, but it never even crossed my mind that anyone would equate speed with accessibility. It makes perfect sense, if they don’t know about disability issues, and my own experiences are that very few people have even the slightest clue.

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