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NAD Applauds Passage of 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act

NAD Applauds Passage of 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act

Alternative video link:
http://www.youtube.com/user/whitehouse?blend=1&ob=4#p/u/0/uNmTyVG2xd4

On Friday, October 8, President Barack Obama will sign the Twenty-First
Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 into law and
deliver brief remarks on the impact of this law on individuals with
disabilities. Bobbie Beth Scoggins, President of the National Association of
the Deaf (NAD) with Chief Executive Officer Nancy Bloch and Law and Advocacy
Director Rosaline Crawford will be on hand to witness this historic event at
the White House, which will be streamed on http://whitehouse.gov/live.

The NAD applauds Congress for passage of this landmark legislation will
improve access to communication, television, and the Internet for people who
are deaf, hard of hearing, late deafened and deaf-blind.

“The Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act is one
of the most significant victories for our community since the Americans with
Disabilities Act was signed 20 years ago. It will enable 36 million deaf and
hard of hearing people to participate in the Internet age by ensuring
captioning of television programs on the Internet, a closed caption button
on television remote controls, hearing aid compatibility for Internet
telephones, and communications equipment for individuals who are deaf-blind,
and more,” said Bobbie Beth Scoggins, NAD President. “While we fell short in
some areas, such as requiring web TV episodes distributed only on the
Internet to be captioned, this is a step in the right direction to make the
web accessible. For many of us, the quality of our lives depend on an
accessible Internet and we appreciate Congress’ recognition of this
essential civil right.”

The passage of this Act culminates a legislative process that has involved
congressional hearings, intensive discussions with various companies and
trade associations, and extensive advocacy by the Coalition of Organizations
for Accessible Technology (COAT) of which the NAD is a co-founder, leader,
and steering committee member. COAT, a coalition of more than 300
organizational affiliates, promotes full access by people with disabilities
to evolving high speed broadband, wireless and other Internet Protocol (IP)
technologies. Other COAT co-founding organizations include the American
Association of People with Disabilities, American Council of the Blind,
American Foundation for the Blind, and Communication Service for the Deaf.

The Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (S.
3304) will significantly increase accessibility for Americans with
disabilities to the indispensable telecommunications technology tools of the
21st century by:

* Making access to the Web possible through improved user interfaces for
smart phones
* Enabling Americans who are blind to enjoy TV more fully through audible
descriptions of the on-screen action
* Making TV program guides and selection menus accessible to people with
vision loss
* Providing Americans who are deaf the ability to watch new TV programs
online with the captions included
* Mandating that remote controls have a button or similar mechanism to
easily access the closed captioning on broadcast and pay TV
* Requiring that telephone equipment used to make calls over the Internet is
compatible with hearing aids

For low-income Americans who are both deaf and blind, providing up to $10
million per year to purchase communications equipment to access the
telephone system and the Internet so these individuals can more fully
participate in society.

“This Act was achieved through bipartisan support.” said NAD President
Scoggins. “The NAD looks forward to working with the Federal Communications
Commission (FCC) on the rulemakings expected over the next several years to
fulfill the requirements of the Act. With the continued support of our
members we will ensure that the final regulations provide the access that
deaf and hard of hearing people need.”

The NAD would like to recognize and thank a number of members who played a
key role in moving the legislation forward. In the U.S. Senate, the bill was
championed by Senator Pryor (D-AR), with the support of Senator Kerry
(D-MA), Senator Rockefeller (D-WV), Senator Hutchison (R-TX), and Senator
Ensign (R-NV). In the U.S. House, it was authored and championed by Rep. Ed
Markey (D-MA), with the support of Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), Rep. Rick
Boucher (D-VA), Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL) and Rep.
Jay Inslee (D-WA). In addition, the NAD would like to recognize AT&T,
Verizon, USTelecom, and Windstream who provided early and staunch support
for the legislation. Furthermore, the NAD would like to thank the COAT
steering committee representatives — including NAD Law and Advocacy
Director Rosaline Crawford — who provided amazing dedication and commitment
in shepherding this legislation through Congress.

About NAD
The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) is the nation’s premier civil
rights organization of, by and for deaf and hard of hearing individuals in
the United States of America. Established in 1880, the NAD was shaped by
deaf leaders who believed in the right of the American deaf community to use
sign language, to congregate on issues important to them, and to have its
interests represented at the national level. These beliefs remain true to
this day, with American Sign Language as a core value.

The advocacy scope of the NAD is broad, covering a lifetime and impacting
future generations in the areas of early intervention, education,
employment, health care, technology, telecommunications, youth leadership,
and more – improving the lives of millions of deaf and hard of hearing
Americans. The NAD also carries out its federal advocacy work through
coalition efforts with specialized national deaf and hard of hearing
organizations, as well as coalitions representing national cross-disability
organizations.

Contact: Shane H. Feldman, [email protected] or 301-587-1788.

The National Association of the Deaf
8630 Fenton Street, Suite 820
Silver Spring, MD 20910-3819
United States

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