MN Broadband Task Force Feb 14, 2012; Full Notes

It’s been a long day. The Minnesota Broadband Task Force met – and then the Senate Committee on Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications heard from representatives from the Task Force. I took video at the Senate Committee meeting and hope to post that tomorrow. In the meantime I wanted to get these notes up for folks.

There was an outside presentation today on use of broadband with people with disabilities. Very interesting! I think one important message is that people will disabilities need broadband to use assistive technologies to access many online applications. But once online, the community represents a new market of potential employees.

The Task Force members talked about the future schedule of meetings and self-assigned themselves into subgroups. One observation – it seems as if these subgroups would be open to support and expertise from outside of the Task Force. So if you had expertise it might be worth contacting someone from the committee to let them know.

Here are the full (unofficial!) notes:

Governor’s Task Force on Broadband
TIES Building
Learning Center Conference Room
1667 Snelling Ave. N., St. Paul, MN 55108
February 14, 2012
10 AM – 2 PM


I. Greetings and Introductions 10:00 – 10:10

II. Approval of January 24, 2012 Minutes 10:10 – 10:20


III. Public Comments 10:20 – 10:30


10:30 – 11:00 IV. Presentation on “Broadband Adoption and People with Disabilities”
Mary Hartnett, Commission for Deaf, Deafblind and Hard of Hearing Minnesotans
Jay Wyant, Office of Enterprise Technology [Ann’s note: I am hoping to get this presentation to post online later.]

2009 Legislation – mandated that OET adopt accessibility standards;

  • specifies the incorporation of Section 508 and WCAG 2.0 into the standards
  • Funds projects related for captioning
  • Sets up an Advisory Committee
  • Staff at OET – Chief Info Accessibility Officer (Jay)

Rural Communities & People with Disabilities

  • People with disabilities are more likely than most other groups to live in rural areas
  • At last 20 % of people with disabilities live in rural areas

Jobs & People with Disabilities

When the ADA was passed in 1990, 22% of people with disabilities were employed

  • 22 years later that number is the same
  • People with disabilities employed in state (Minnesota) government decreased from 10.1% in 1999 to 4.6 in 2011

By 2009 only 41% of Americans with disabilities had adopted broadband.

  • Assistive technology is too expensive
  • Broadband speed is insufficient
  • Internet may be seen as inaccessible and unnecessary

QUESTION/COMMENT – would be nice to know about specifics about technologies

Components Needed to Improve Broadband Adoption

Education & Training for People w/Disabilities


Edu & Training

Make trainings and educational material accessible

  • Provide transportation
  • Braille material
  • Offer sign language interpreter services

Example programs

Fund Assistive Technology

  • Gov funds & grants
    • TAM a potential source
    • CenturyLink Settlement (making sure equipment is accessible)
    • Equipment recycling & exchanges
    • Expand definition of assistive technology
    • Economic development funds

Regulation Compliance

  • Section 508 of the Rehab Act of 1978
  • Web content access guidelines 2.0
  • 21st Century Communications & Video Accessibility Act signed on 10/8/2010

[Ann’s note – they mentioned a great concept with a term that was new to me: Electronic Curb Cut Also learned about an organization]

Accessibility: Quick Into

  • Not an accommodation – it’s built in – everyone uses it
  • Technology centered; not focused on a person who is disabled
  • Proactive – it’s an electronic curb-cut

Technology Accessibility Standards Implementation Project

  • Supports OET’s mandate to establish technology accessibility standards and implement the processes needed to put them into effect
  • OET & MMD are working together to assure the state is purchasing accessible hardware, software and online applications under the MN Statutes 2009, sect 16C

2009 Legislation: Current Status

  • 2011: TAM Appropriation
  • Created position of CIAO


How many disabled people in MN? 20%

In the decline in worker numbers – what do you attribute that to?

We thought that broadband would help a lot. We are looking at other pieces – such as consolidated access fund. So that employees can hire people with disabilities and get compensated for any costs of accommodation.

Although our employee numbers doubled last year – I don’t think we had any hearing or sight-impaired people apply.

Vocab rehabilitations would be a good place to connect to reach out to prospective employees with disabilities. Also the Governor’s Workforce Development Council had a subcommittee. 15 recommendations were made.

Assistive technology needs broadband.

V. Meeting Locations for 2012/Creation of a 11:00 – 11:30

Meeting Site and Logistics Subgroup – Chaired by Bernadine

Monthly Meetings

March 27 – St Cloud area (maybe Sauk Rapids)

Heather Rand from DEED will be able to help with outreach in different areas.

April –



July –

August – no meeting


October – looking at 30th

November 13 – Connect Minnesota and the Department of Commerce and Blandin would propose to look at the November meeting being in Duluth and tie in with annual meeting. We could co-schedule.

December 4

Sibley County – and the Joint Powers group would be a good host. There’s a good community center in Arlington

Southeastern would be interested in a meeting – especially given healthcare focus in the area. Mayo-Winona connection would be nice in late summer.

Maybe a suburban location (visiting Reuters or Chanhassen.) Dakota County might be good for SW suburbs. Dakota County is a Smart community – so that adds too. The Native American community is involved in New Strategies too (Mystic Lake). There’s expertise in dig-one in that area too.

Detroit Lakes is a good location. Good for collaboration and healthcare. Even further north could be good. The Impact 2020 group is in that area too.

The reach out strategy in Windom would be good too.

Brainerd has nice stories on public-private partnership especially in terms of schools.

Anoka County has some activity too.

Maybe looking at Native communities would be good – maybe Mille Lacs. Keith will look at other tribes and where they are with broadband.

Technology learning center in North Minneapolis.

Maybe some of the subcommittees could plan trips.

Deer River would be good for the schools. And that’s Paul Bunyan area.

If we can find best practices – and bring them to an area where the utilization isn’t great. Maybe that’s an interesting approach.

There’s a reservation in Pine County. They’re laying fiber there. Genesis Wireless is there – he’d like to lay the groundwork to get something started there.

This is a great start – maybe the subgroup can take this and run.

VI. Lunch 11:30 – 12:00

VII. Subgroups and Work Plan: Broadband Plan Outline 12:00 – 1:20

We will be looking at subcommittees and we’ll likely draw from those workgroups in the meetings. And we’ll hope to highlight what’s happening in different communities as we visit other areas.

Suggestion of 6 subgroups (in handout; I’ll retype below)

  1. Subgroup on Location/Tracking Existing Broadband Mobilization Efforts
    1. Might seem a little disjointed but other TF members would be pulled in to work on a location if in their geographic area – plus tracking existing broadband efforts could identify who to invite to meetings in that area and combining the two doesn’t result in overwhelming workload.
    2. This subgroup would identify where each of the monthly meetings would be (with suggestions from the full task force) and identify a lead person for handling all the logistics
    3. The subgroup would also identify existing broadband mobilization efforts underway, catalog and update; identify best practices; identify resources to support such mobilization efforts.
  2. Coordination Across Government
    1. Identify and outreach to all levels of government working on broadband deployment and adoption issues
    2. Includes “Dig Once” work
    3. Work with/keep informed the congressional delegation
  3. Best Practices/Incentives
    1. Identify best practices in other states and countries
    2. Identify policy incentives/work with Revenue and OMB to identify any fasical impoact on the state
  4. State of Broadband
    1. Track work of ConnectMN and identify others
    2. Track progress to meet state’s broadband goals
  5. Broadband Adoption
    1. Identify public and private organizations working on adoption
    2. Calculations of economic impact
    3. Work to take advantage of existing initiatives
    4. Identify where we are falling short and how to incent
  6. Monitor and Understand Impact of FCC & PUC Decisions/Cost of Broadband Deployment
    1. Monitor FCC & PUC decisions impacting broadband
    2. Track requests for and receipt of CAF funding, track deployment based on that funding – using existing resources (CN, MN Dept of Commerce, others)
    3. While every situation can be unique, try to have examples of ballpark figures for the cost to deploy broadband (by technology, by households passed) that can be used as a resource or explanatory tool


Are there action items we can take that will drive us towards our goals? Maybe we can work towards that in the subcommittees.

There is duplication as this is laid out; but maybe there are different purposes

We suggestion that we look at 3. We don’t have a deployment category. Maybe we could change 3 to “Deployment Best Practices/Incentive” and we could add “identify and address solutions”

Can we talk about alignment between recommendations and the subgroups?

We wanted to get to 6 to be more manageable for members. So that the recommendations fit under the subgroups.

Everyone signed up for a subgroup.


There’s a larger group of 100 people who went through the leadership program via MHTA. How would we feel about getting outside people to help with tasks such as research? Not that they’d necessarily sit on the committee but that they can help.

How is the agenda set?

We had a request from the speaker today early on. So we added her when we could. Our agenda items should focus on the end product (report). There’s a temptation to learn more – but we have tried to focus on the end task. Bill, Diane & Margaret have been using that approach.

We have to be focused – we’re all volunteers. We need to inform that report with what we learn.

Maybe we can think about identifying topics for each subgroup. It might be nice for each subgroup to focus.

What are we doing at the legislature this afternoon?

Bill, Diane, Margaret have talking points for the committee. They have seen the reports. We don’t expect this to be contentious.

Gary & Shirley will talk about what we have done. The Sep report and the Dec 2012 report.

Department of Commerce will be there for tech questions.

Here’s a list of who is one which subgroup:

[Ann’s note: I assume I missed some names – or maybe the folks on the phone were added later.]

  1. Subgroup on Location/Tracking Existing Broadband Mobilization Efforts
    1. Bernadine Joselyn
    2. Maureen Ideker
    3. Margaret Anderson Kelleher
    4. Danna MacKenzie
  2. Coordination Across Government
    1. Matt Grose
    2. Danna MacKenzie
    3. Duane Ring
    4. Steve Lewsader
  3. Best Practices/Incentives
    1. Margaret Anderson Kelliher
    2. Dan Richter
    3. Gary Evans
    4. Shirley Walz
  4. State of Broadband
    1. Matt Grose
    2. Bao Vang
    3. Margaret Anderson Kelliher
  5. Broadband Adoption
    1. Shirley Walz
    2. Maureen Ideker
    3. Dan Richter
    4. Bernadine Joselyn
    5. Steve Lewsader
  6. Monitor and Understand Impact of FCC & PUC Decisions/Cost of Broadband Deployment
    1. Bao Vang
    2. Gary Evans
    3. Danna MacKenzie

VIII. Additional Public Comments 1:20 – 1:25


IX. Other Business/Next Meeting Agenda 1:25 – 1:40


This entry was posted in Conferences, MN, Policy by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (, hosts a radio show on MN music (, supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota ( and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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