House Commerce Marking Up Communications Accessibility Bill

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The House Energy & Commerce Committee has scheduled a mark-up for Wednesday July 21 for the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (HR 3101), which applies some of the communications accessibility requirements in the Telecommunications Act to broadband, including closed captioning and device accessibility, as well as reinstituting the FCC's video description rules.

A mark-up is where amendments are added and the committee votes on whether to approve it for consideration by the House.

A similar bill has already been marked up and approved by the Senate Commerce Committee. House Energy & Commerce Committee chairman Henry Waxman (D.-Calif.)has said he would like to get the bill approved and sent to the floor by the end of this month to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The cable and consumer electronics industries, which support the disability access goals of the bill, continue to work with committees in both Houses about the specifics of the bills, including deadlines for meeting video description and online closed captioning requirements and how devices like smart phones and other mobile video products can be made more accessible without discouraging innovation or investment in those products.

The Consumer Electronics Association has warned that a bill with onerous technological mandates or too broad a definition of disability would be unworkable.

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