Proposed rule mandating accessibility features on video conferencing platforms mirrors lawmakers’ Communication, Video, and Technology Accessibility Act

Washington (May 17, 2023) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee and author of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA), and Representative Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18), senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, issued the following joint statement after Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel of the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) announced proposals that would for the first time ensure video conferencing platforms comply with accessibility requirements for people with disabilities. Yesterday’s announcement mirrors requirements in the lawmakers’ legislation, the Communication, Video, and Technology Accessibility (CVTA) Act:

“People with disabilities deserve equal access to the tools and technologies that define life in the 21st century – and that includes video conferencing. Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, video conferencing has become increasingly essential for work, education, and healthcare, but many video conferencing services fall short for people with disabilities, leaving them disconnected. That’s why we introduced the Communications, Video, and Technology Accessibility Act in the last Congress, to require video conferencing platforms to incorporate built-in accessibility features, such as automatic captioning features, interpreters, and other assistive technologies. We applaud Chairwoman Rosenworcel for her leadership and look forward to working with the FCC to ensure people with disabilities have full access to video conferencing platforms and other important services.”

Senator Markey is the author of the CVAA, which mandates accessibility of devices and services for the millions of Americans with disabilities and enables the use of a wide range of devices and services needed in the digital era. In November 2022, Senator Markey and Representative Eshoo introduced the CVTA, which would update and amend the CVAA to keep pace with the proliferation of emerging technologies that have come online since Senator Markey’s 2010 bill was passed with bipartisan support. The CVTA would strengthen standards for television programming and emergency communication; expand accessibility requirements, including closed captions and audio descriptions, to online platforms and video conferencing services; and equip the federal government with the ability to improve accessibility of emerging technologies.