The following summary of the provisions of the Act was provided by
Eric Bridges, who is the ACB's representative on the FCC Technical
Committee for issues related to the Act. Very minor modifications
have been made to the formatting of his text.
What the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility
Act of 2010 Will Do for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired
Access to advanced communications services and equipment.
The legislation, as signed into law by the President:
- Requires advanced communications equipment and services to be
accessible, if achievable. If not, then equipment and services must
be compatible with devices used by individuals with disabilities to
achieve access, if achievable. "Achievable" is defined as reasonable
effort or expense, as determined by the FCC.
- Improves enforcement. The FCC must file regular reports with
Congress and requires an enforcement study by the Comptroller
General. It also adds recordkeeping obligations for equipment
manufacturers and service providers.
- Requires access to Internet services built-in to mobile
telephone devices, like smart phones, if achievable.
- Requires a clearinghouse of information on accessible
products and services, and public education and outreach.
- One year after the bill becomes law, it restores FCC rules
requiring 4 hours per week of video description on 9 television
channels (top 4 broadcast networks and top 5 cable channels) in the
top 25 most populated markets.
- Two years after the bill becomes law, the FCC is required to
report to Congress on video description.
- After four years the bill permits the FCC to increase video
description to 7 hours per week on 9 television channels.
- After six years, the FCC is required to apply the video
description requirements to the top 60 most populated markets (not
just the top 25 most populated markets).
- After nine years, the FCC is required to report to Congress on
the need for additional markets to carry video description.
- After 10 years, the bill permits the FCC to expand video
description to 10 new markets annually to achieve 100 percent
- The legislation requires video programming owners, providers,
and distributors to make emergency information accessible to
individuals who are blind or have low vision.
- Devices designed to receive or play back video programming,
using a picture screen of any size, must be capable of delivering
available video description, and making emergency information
accessible to individuals who are blind or have low vision.
- Devices with picture screens less than 13" must meet these
requirements if achievable with reasonable effort or expense.
- Devices designed to record video programming (such as DVRs) must
enable the rendering or pass through of video description and
emergency information, so viewers can turn the video description
on/off when played back on a screen of any size.
User Interfaces on Digital Apparatus
The legislation requires devices designed to receive or play back
- To make controls of built-in functions accessible to and
usable by individuals who are blind or have low vision, if
- To provide access to video description features through a
mechanism that is reasonably comparable to a button, key, or icon
designated for activating accessibility features.
Access to Video Programming Guides and Menus Provided on Navigation
- Cable/satellite set-top box on-screen text menus and guides must
be audibly accessible to individuals who are blind or have low
vision, if achievable.
- Devices must provide access to built-in video description
features through a mechanism that is reasonably comparable to a
button, key, or icon designated for activating the accessibility
- Allocates up to $10 million per year from the Interstate
Relay Service Fund for equipment used by individuals who are
- Establishes an Emergency Access Advisory Committee to
recommend and for the FCC to adopt rules to achieve reliable and
interoperable communications with future Internet-enabled emergency
- Establishes a Video Programming and Emergency Access
Advisory Committee to make recommendations about video description,
accessible emergency information, user interfaces, and video
programming guides and menus.