March 2, 2011: Markey Receives Award from American Council of the Blind
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Edward J. Markey (D-Malden), author of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, has received the James R. Olsen Award for Community Service from the American Council of the Blind. Named after Jim Olsen, who first served as the Council’s elected Treasurer and then was employed by the Council for over 25 years, the award was created to recognize individuals or organizations that have made significant contributions to the advancement of opportunities for people who are blind and visually impaired. Signed into law last year by President Obama and authored by Rep. Markey, the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act is landmark legislation will make it easier for individuals who are blind, deaf or both deaf and blind to access the Internet, smartphones, television programming and other communications and video technologies.
“I am honored to receive this award from the American Council of the Blind, and I look forward to continuing my work to fight for equal access to technology for all Americans,” said Rep. Markey upon receiving the award. “Whether it’s a Braille reader or a broadband connection, access to technology is not a political issue- it’s a participation issue. Americans with disabilities need access to the latest 21st century communications and video tools to compete in the job market and engage in daily activities that increasingly rely on the technology. I am proud that the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act is now the law of the land, and I know we will continue to make great strides so all individuals can more fully participate in society.”
The American Council of the Blind is the largest consumer-based organization of blind and visually impaired Americans advocating for the rights of blind Americans. Comprised of more than 70 affiliates across the United States, the organization is dedicated to making it possible for blind and visually impaired Americans to participate fully in all aspects of American society.
“Representative Markey has played an instrumental roll over the last four years in not just introducing the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act but leading the blind community through some very difficult negotiations so that a landmark bill could be signed in to law. We sincerely thank him for all of his efforts in ensuring that the blind community will be able to gain access to important information that is conveyed on television or through a smart phone,” said Mitch Pomerantz, President of the American council of the Blind.
Rep. Markey’s 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act significantly increases accessibility for Americans with disabilities to the indispensable telecommunications and video technology tools of the 21st century by:
- Increasing access to the Web for Americans who are blind 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 telecom equipment used to make calls over the Internet is compatible with hearing aids
- For low-income Americans who are both deaf and blind, providing a share of a total $10 million per year to purchase accessible Internet access and telecom services.
Rep. Markey accepts the James R. Olsen Award for Community Service from the American Council of the Blind. (Left to Right: Eric Bridges, Director of Advocacy and Governmental Affairs, American Council of the Blind; Rep. Markey; Mitch Pomerantz, President of the American Council of the Blind)