[mountainstate] Fw: [announce] Background Paper for Legislative Seminar H.R.3101
dandmbrown at atlanticbb.net
Thu Feb 18 00:57:42 GMT 2010
Telecommunications and Electronic Information
2010 ACB Legislative Seminar
Television and Internet products as well as programming are becoming increasingly reliant on visual information to communicate with consumers. Products are created that utilize on-screen menus and in programming, significant events are portrayed visually: emergency weather advisories are scrolled across screens. People who are blind, or have visual impairments, are thereby denied access to a significant portion of the vast array of communications services available today. In the following paper, we will describe the challenges blind and visually impaired individuals are currently experiencing in an increasingly digital world and the necessity for legislation to rectify these problems. The nation has a compelling public interest in furthering the safety, security and well-being of people who are blind and visually impaired by ensuring, to the fullest extent made possible by technology, equal access to the television medium.
Television plays a critical role in our society as a vital source of news, information, local and community affairs, education, and entertainment. Video description is where a narrator describes visual elements of a program during the natural pauses that occur in dialogue to let a person who cannot see the screen know what is happening.
Today, there exist many levels of on-screen menus and complicated program guides for operating various video programming devices (DVD players, televisions, cable boxes, TiVo etc.). Unfortunately, access to these interfaces is poor to non-existent for individuals with visual impairments. Such complicated navigational tools and remotes are new barriers to old delivery mechanisms.
Web Access and Web Programming
In addition to old delivery mechanisms, we are seeing new technologies and new devices that carry video programming. Programming that was once viewable on television is now available over the Internet and on IP-enabled and wireless devices. However, access to that programming and the use of options such as video description and closed captioning is poor at best.
Emergency Information Access
It is critical that emergency information is provided in a manner that allows access for individuals with sensory disabilities. Emergency information provided visually must be described in the program's main audio track. More and more, critical information is scrolled or crawled across the screen with no accompanying audio information.
Access to Electronic Communications and information by Wireless Devices
Today, a cell phone is no longer just a means by which people speak to one another. These devices are equipped with features that will allow the user to send and receive email, text messages, and to procure information from the Internet. Unfortunately, blind or visually impaired consumers are forced to spend much more than just the cost of the phone and data plan in order to gain full access to all of the features of these devices.
Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act.
On June 26, 2009 Representative Edward Markey (D-MA) reintroduced H.R. 3101, the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act. This legislation was made a reality by the active participation of ACB through it's steering committee membership in the Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology (COAT). ACB is urging Congress to pass this legislation which will address our concerns:
ACB strongly urges Congress to pass the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act.
Please share with members of both the House and Senate the language outlined above and how these changes will impact your life. Please urge them to be a sponsor or co-sponsor of this legislation. If a member of Congress is interested in sponsoring this legislation, please advise the ACB national office of their interest so that staff can make a follow-up contact.
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