Monday, July 6, 2009
On June 26, comprehensive legislation to ensure that people with disabilities have access to Internet-based telecommunications and video programming technologies was reintroduced. The bill, the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009 (H.R. 3101), will--
* require that mobile and other Internet-based telecommunications devices be fully hearing aid compatible, have accessible user interfaces, and offer people with disabilities use of a full range of text messaging and other popular services that are currently largely inaccessible;
* provide people who are deaf-blind with vital but costly technologies they need to communicate electronically, establish a process for the provision of real-time text capability, and clarify existing relay-to-relay, Lifeline and Linkup service requirements to ensure their relevance to the real world communications needs of people with disabilities;
* restore the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC's) modest video description rules and unambiguously establish the Commission's current and ongoing authority to expand such regulations, require emergency announcements and similar information to be accessible to people with disabilities through audible presentation of on-screen alerts, ensure that video programming offered via the Internet will be both captioned and described, and call for all devices that receive and playback video programming to employ accessible user interfaces and
allow ready access to captioning and description; and
* strengthen consumers' ability to enforce their rights to communications and video accessibility through the establishment of a clearinghouse of information about service and equipment accessibility and usability, a meaningful FCC complaint process that holds industry accountable for their accessibility obligations, and judicial review of FCC action to ensure the Commission's own accountability.
Full text of the bill can be found HERE.
Any questions may be directed to: firstname.lastname@example.org