Feb 282009

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We would like to encourage each of you to support some very important legislation that will make a tremendous difference in the lives of deaf and hard of hearing citizens. The 21st Century Communications & Video Accessibility Act is going to be re-introduced and we would like Congress to know that the needs of deaf and hard of hearing Americans should not be overlooked.

As you may know, CSD was one of the founding members of the Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology (COAT) and we have joined them in efforts to ensure that the federal laws that we have worked so hard to enact over the past 20 years keep in pace with new technologies. For instance, television shows that are re-shown over the Internet are under no requirement to be captioned – even if they had captions when they were shown on TV! Also, small TVs, cell phones, PDAs, and other mobile devices are not required to display captions, even though they are now capable of showing TV shows. Also, for now, 9-1-1 emergency call centers cannot accept calls from people who need to communicate in video or via pagers.

There is still much work to be done and we need to show our support by signing petitions on the COAT website. Overall, the goal is to have 5,000 signatures before the 21stCentury Communications & Video Accessibility Act is re-introduced! Please show your support now by logging onto their website at http://www.coataccess.org/node/add/petition to electronically sign their COAT petition.

Ideally, the petitions should be representative of consumers from all 50 states. But at this time, there are few or no petition signers from the following states: Iowa, North Dakota, Nevada, Nebraska, Oklahoma and West Virginia. Regardless of what state you are from, please go to the COAT website and learn more about their efforts and support their cause by signing the petition — they still need more petitioners from ALL 50 states.

Below is a copy of the petition itself. If you agree with it, again please go to their site and SIGN THEIR PETITION! It takes only a few moments and will do a great deal in showing members of Congress how much we all care about access in the 21st century.

We, the undersigned, support the legislative and regulatory proposals of the Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology (COAT) to ensure full access by people with disabilities to evolving high speed broadband, wireless, and Internet communication and electronic technologies.

Over the last 20 years, various federal laws to ensure access to telephone and television technologies have been enacted. However, these federal laws have not kept pace with new technologies. For example, television programs distributed over the Internet are not required to have closed captions or video description – even if they had captions and description when they were shown on television. Also, although televisions with screens larger than 13 inches must display closed captions, small televisions, cell phones, PDAs, and other mobile devices do not have this same requirement; nor are they required to pass through video description. In addition, although federal law requires phones over the regular public telephone network to be hearing aid compatible, it is not clear whether this obligation carries over to smart phones used for communication over the Internet. Nor are there any affordable phone devices that work for people who are deaf-blind. The list goes on and on – nearly every time new technology is introduced in the marketplace, people with disabilities get left behind! We say enough is enough!

We want access. We need change. We support COAT’s efforts to enact the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act and other laws and policies that will ensure equal access to telecommunications, the Internet, and television programming!

If you would like to forward this email request and petition to your friends and family members, please do so. Don’t hesitate to forward the petition to anyone who might be willing to send their signature! You can use the automatic petition forwarder at the following: http://www.coataccess.org/node/88

Thank you in advance for your support and for helping to make a difference!

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