Lawmaker is Author of Bill to Make Technology More Accessible to All

 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 prepared statement at a hearing on the bill in the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet:

“Thank you, Chairman Boucher, for holding this important hearing today on H.R. 3101, the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act. I introduced the bill last June, it’s bi-partisan and has 50 co-sponsors, including 4 members of the Full Committee.

“I would like to welcome back to the Subcommittee Sergeant Major Jesse Acosta, who testified back in May 2008 on similar draft accessibility legislation I introduced during the last Congress, when I was chairman of this Subcommittee – Sergeant Major Acosta, thank you for being here this morning and thank you for your service to our country.

“When federal laws were last updated in 1996 to improve the accessibility of communications and video programming for Americans with disabilities, we were living in a pre-broadband, pre-Google, pre-Hulu, pre-smart phone world. Voice communications were carried by traditional phone lines; television was broadcast using analog signals.  Students doing research actually had to use encyclopedias and look up definitions by thumbing through things called “dictionaries.” 

“We now live in a wireless world and a broadband ecosystem in which Internet access is indispensable.  While we’ve come a long way technologically, in many ways, access to these devices and services for people with disabilities has been stuck in suspended animation.  This is unacceptable.

“It’s long past time that we ensure all Americans can enjoy the fruits that come with the latest communications and video technologies. 

“As the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act approaches on July 26th, our Committee and this Congress have an historic opportunity to bring our accessibility laws up-to-date. 

“This is not a partisan issue – it’s a participatory issue.

“All of us should be able to participate in the world to the fullest extent possible, and the latest communications and video devices and services can enrich how we experience and enjoy our lives.”


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