OCTOBER 7, 2009: MARKEY: HELLEN KELLER DEDICATION HIGHLIGHTS NEED FOR ACCESS TO TECHNOLOGY FOR ALL

Lawmaker is author of Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act to ensure new technologies are usable by people with disabilities

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee with jurisdiction over communications policy, today issued the following statement on the dedication of a statute of Helen Keller in the U.S. Capitol. Rep. Markey is the author of H.R. 3101, the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, a bill to ensure that all Americans are offered equal access to technology regardless of disability.  As a girl, Helen Keller received instruction at the Perkins School for the Blind in Massachusetts, which is now located in Rep. Markey’s Congressional District in Watertown, Mass. 

“With the addition of the Helen Keller statue to these hallowed halls, visitors to the Capitol will be reminded that resilience and determination can overcome even the greatest of challenges,” said Rep. Markey.  “More than 40 years after her passing, Helen Keller remains an inspiration to us all. There is no better home for her statue than the U.S Capitol.”

In June, Rep. Markey introduced H.R. 3101, which would amend the Communications Act to ensure that new Internet-enabled telephone and video services and equipment are accessible to, and usable by, people with disabilities.  The bill also closes existing gaps in telecommunications laws. From extending hearing aid compatibility and Internet closed captioning to real-time text support for emergency services, H.R. 3101 seeks to provide a smooth migration to the next-generation of Internet-based and digital communication technologies for people with disabilities.

“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,” said Rep. Markey.The Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act will ensure that all Americans are offered equal access to these exciting and innovative new technologies.”

The guiding principle of the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act is to bring existing federal laws requiring communications and video programming accessibility up to date, to fill in any accessibility gaps, and to ensure the full inclusion of people with disabilities in all aspects of daily living through accessible, affordable and usable communication and video programming technologies. 

Steven M. Rothstein, president of The Perkins School for the Blind said:  All of us at Perkins are thrilled that the Helen Keller statue will stand in our nation’s capital. Her image will be a vivid reminder of what her abilities and perseverance have meant to all people. We are proud to be part of Congressman Markey’s district as he has led the way toward accessibility for individuals with disabilities. His leadership on the communications and video accessibility bill ensures that Helen Keller’s enduring message of possibility will be heard for generations to come.”

 

A full text of the bill can be found at: http://markey.house.gov/docs/21century.pdf