Act Now! Urge the U.S. Senate to Adopt H.R. 3101

Act Now! Urge the U.S. Senate to Adopt H.R. 3101

NAD E-News

On July 26, 2010, the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities
Act (ADA), 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. The NAD thanks U.S. 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), Jay Inslee (D-WA), and Cliff
Stearns (R-FL), for their leadership in this bipartisan effort. The fight is
not over just yet. Here’s why…

H.R. 3101 has key provisions that will greatly improve access for the deaf
and hard of hearing community:

* Captioned television programs that are shown again on the Internet must
still be captioned. If we miss a program on television, we can later watch
the show on the Internet with captions.
* Captions must be displayed on all devices that show television
programs, regardless of size. The old rule was that a device must be 13
inches or larger, which will no longer be true.
* Captioning controls must be easier to find and turn on/off via
on-screen menus and remote controls. We would no longer have to struggle
with this.
* Captions must be displayed on programming that is recorded using DVRs
and similar recording devices. We can count on pass-through of captions for
later viewing.
* Reliable and interoperable technologies must access 911 services. We
can have peace of mind knowing that we can quickly obtain emergency help.
* Communications equipment (up to $10 million per year) must be provided
for deaf-blind people. This is a very necessary and long-overdue provision.
* Internet telephones must be hearing aid compatible.
* Relay services must enable communication with anyone, including between
TTY and videophone users.
* The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) must establish
Telecommunications Relay Services Policy Advisory Council. The FCC will
also report to Congress about access to improved relay service technologies;
suggest ways to increase relay services in the workplace, and update
equipment in public facilities and government offices.

Clearly, passage of H.R. 3101 in the U.S. House of Representatives on the
20th anniversary of the ADA was an historical event. We are very excited.

But we must be honest – we did not get everything we wanted. Congressional
members told us that they are not ready to consider rules that require
captions for shows that are shown on the Internet and not on TV. This
provision was opposed by the cable and television industry. We are
disappointed that they did not want to do the right thing.

Fortunately, we did get something through our efforts as co-founder and
steering committee member of the Coalition of Organizations for Accessible
Technology (COAT) to address captioning of programs that are shown only on
the Internet — H.R. 3101 will require the FCC to study this issue and make
a recommendation to Congress. This is an important requirement because it
keeps the issue alive and makes sure the FCC pays attention to it.

We also lost another part of H.R. 3101 to allow discounts for low-income
people to have broadband access so they can use Internet based relay
services such as Video Relay Services (VRS).

The NAD is committed to keep fighting for captioned Internet programs and
for affordable broadband access after adoption of H.R. 3101 by the Senate.

Our champion, U.S. Representative Markey, emphasizes that his support for
communication access on behalf of deaf and hard of hearing people for over
two decades will not stop with H.R. 3101. He said that he remains committed
to working with us in the future to ensure full and equal access to all
telecommunications technologies, equipment, and services.

Act Now to Protect Your Rights!

This is a critical time for advocates to take action to protect our civil,
human and linguistic rights.

We have a big problem at this time. H.R. 3101 has been sent to the U.S.
Senate but the U.S. Senate has a similar bill – S. 3304. This bill is not
as strong as H.R. 3101, which requires the FCC to report and recommend to
Congress on captioning for video programs that are shown only on the
Internet — S. 3304 does not require this. We must preserve our hard fought
victory with the recent House passage of H.R 3101 and make sure it is
adopted by the Senate.

Contact your two U.S. Senators right now – call, fax and send email
Tell them to adopt H.R. 3101 because it is stronger and much better
than S. 3304.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.