JULY 21, 2010: MARKEY BILL TO MAKE TECHNOLOGY ACCESSIBLE TO ALL PASSES ENERGY & COMMERCE COMMITTEE

Lawmaker also attaches provision to provide deaf-blind community with improved technological access during Committee consideration

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), author of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (H.R. 3101), today issued the following statement after a revised version of his bill was reported out of the full Energy and Commerce Committee. The bi-partisan bill has over 50 co-sponsors.

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As the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) approaches on Monday, we took a big step closer today toward breaking down the walls of exclusion in the digital era and ensuring that all Americans can access the latest video and communications technologies that many people take for granted every day,” said Markey.

While the last decade has produced an unprecedented technological revolution, the wizardry of the wires and the sophistication of software programs do little for those who cannot affordably access or effectively use them. It is my hope that we can pass this bi-partisan bill out of the House to coincide with the ADA anniversary on July 26th. I also would like to thank Chairman Rick Boucher (D-VA) and Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) for moving this legislation forward, as well as Ranking Member Joe Barton (R-TX) and Ranking Member Cliff Stearns (R-FL) for their support.”

The bill approved by the full Committee includes new provisions to expand the availability of video descriptions of television shows to media markets all across the country, new requirements to ensure that closed captioned television programs are also closed captioned for viewing on the Internet and measures to increase the ability for Americans who are blind to access the Internet from smart phones.

During the mark-up, Rep. Markey also offered an amendment that passed unanimously to provide – out of the FCC’s existing Telecommunications Relay Fund – up to $10 million a year for the specialized equipment that low-income deaf-blind Americans need to access the Internet, use special text telephones to communicate, and access advanced communications services such as email.

Markey’s bill brings existing federal laws requiring communications and video programming accessibility up to date, filling in accessibility gaps, and ensuring the inclusion of Americans with disabilities in all aspects of daily living through accessible, affordable and usable communication and video programming technologies.

The legislation seeks to provide a smooth migration to the next-generation of Internet-based and digital communication technologies for people with disabilities.

In the 21st century, individuals with disabilities must be able to get on to the Internet from wherever they happen to be – using online ramps to the Web just as the ADA mandated physical ramps into buildings 20 years ago. Back then, Americans with disabilities couldn’t get around if buildings weren’t wheelchair accessible; today it’s about being Web accessible.  I look forward to continuing to move this vital legislation forward with the goal of it being signed into law this year,” Rep. Markey concluded.

 
Full text of the bill can be found here:

 http://energycommerce.house.gov/documents/20100630/HR3101.pdf

More information on the bill can be found here:

http://energycommerce.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=articl...

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Rep. Markey meets with advocates from the deaf and blind communities following today's meeting of the Energy and Commerce Committee.