Aug 042010
 

NVRC Note: We hoped to see the 21st Century Communication and Video Accessibility Act pass by July 26 to add to the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the ADA.   The House of Representatives did pass the bill (H.R. 3101) on that date but the Senate has yet to act on its version of the bill (S.3304).   While we did not get everything we hoped for in the House version, it is still stronger than the bill being proposed in the Senate.

PLEASE ACT NOW to contact your state Senators and ask them to pass H.R. 3101, the House version of the bill. See below for information about contacting your Senator and what you can tell them. Virginia’s senators are Jim Webb and Mark Warner.

_____________________________________________


From the Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology 7/30/10

On July 26, 2010, the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (H.R. 3101) with a vote of 348 to 23.  COAT thanks Representative Ed Markey (D-MA), for authoring, introducing, and championing H.R. 3101, and Representatives Henry Waxman (D-CA), Joe Barton (R-TX), Rick Boucher (D-VA), and Cliff Stearns (R-FL), for their leadership in this bipartisan effort.

H.R. 3101 has most of the accessibility improvements we asked for, but some things we wanted were not included in the final H.R. 3101 that was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives:

  • H.R. 3101 requires captioned television programs to be captioned when delivered over the Internet, but does not require captioning on television-like programs that are shown only on the Internet.

Television broadcasters are providing more Internet-only content and technology has enabled television sets to pull content directly from the Internet. To address this growing trend, H.R. 3101 requires the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to report and recommend to Congress about captioning television-like programs that are shown only on the Internet. Congress knows this is important to our community.

  • H.R. 3101 does not permit low-income people to use their Lifeline/Link-Up telephone service discount to reduce the cost of broadband services.

We expect the FCC to make this possible as part of the National Broadband Plan.

Mr. Markey told COAT, “For more than two decades, I have been committed to ensuring accessible telecommunications for all Americans. The passage of H.R. 3101 by the U.S. House of Representatives is a major step forward in the effort to achieve this goal.  I remain committed to working with you in the future to ensure full and equal access to all telecommunications technologies, equipment, and services.”

______________________________________________

What H.R. 3101 has that S. 3304 does not:

Relay services.

Establishes a Telecommunications Relay Services Policy Advisory Council.

Requires the Federal Communications Commission to report to Congress about access to improved relay service technologies; and to suggest ways to facilitate use of relay services in the workplace, and update equipment in public places and government offices.

Access to internet-based services and equipment.

Requires access to Internet services to be built-in to mobile telephone devices, like smart phones, if achievable.

Video description.

After 4 years, permits the FCC to increase video description to 7 hours per week (up from 4 hours per week on top 4 broadcast networks and top 5 cable channels, in the top 25 most populated markets).

After 6 years, requires the FCC to apply the video description requirements to all markets (not just the top 25 most populated markets).

After 10 years, permits the FCC to adopt recommendations reported to Congress to increase video description.

Closed captioning

Requires broadcast and cable networks to report to the FCC every 2 years on the amount of captioned television-like programs delivered only over the Internet.

Requires the FCC to report and recommend to Congress about requiring captions on television-like programs that are shown only on the Internet.
The U.S. Senate can choose:

– to pass H.R. 3101;
– to pass S. 3304;
–  to pass something different; or
– to do nothing.

The Senate may vote soon.  COAT urges the U.S. Senate to pass H.R. 3101.

Join us and tell the Senate to pass H.R. 3101.  Call, fax, or email your U.S. Senators now!

Find your U.S. Senators at:

http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

Tell your U.S. Senators:

Vote for H.R. 3101 – the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010.  H.R. 3101 is better than S. 3304.
Equal access is critical for education, employment, and civic participation.
Vote for H.R. 3101 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the ADA.  Make history again.
Thank you.

– Thanks to NVRC, Fairfax