Markey’s communications access bill up for hearing


The House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet will be holding a hearing Thursday 6/10/10 to consider Ed Markey’s (D-MA) H.R. 3101, the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009, which seeks to assure that the deaf and blind are not left behind as communications technology moves forward. The internet will be a big part of the proceeding.

The hearing on the bill, which has 49 co-sponsors, will kick off at 10AM.

Here is a summary of the video components of the bill.

Requires that apparatus that receives or plays back video programming and has a picture screen of any size be capable of decoding closed captioning, transmitting and delivering video description, and conveying emergency information. (Current law: (1) requires closed caption decoders only for apparatus having a picture screen that is at least 13 inches; and (2) does not require video description or emergency information conveyance capability.)

Requires that apparatus to record video programming retain and pass through closed captions and video descriptions.

Ratifies and considers in full force and effect the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) video description regulations contained in a specified Report and Order. Defines, for certain portions of this Act, “video programming” as including programming distributed over the Internet or by other means.

Requires video programming owners, providers, and distributors to convey emergency information accessibly to blind or visually-impaired individuals.

Requires that apparatus to receive or play back video, including using the Internet, allow control by individuals with disabilities and that on-screen menus be accompanied by integrated or peripheral audio output to enable control by blind or visually impaired individuals.

Requires each provider or owner of video programming and each multichannel programming distributor to ensure that video programming information and selection provided by means of a navigational device, guide, or menu is accessible in real-time by individuals with disabilities who are unable to read the visual display.