House Subcommittee Schedules June 10 Hearing On Video Accessibility Act

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The House Communications Subcommittee will hold a June 10 hearing on the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009 (HR 3101).

That is the bill that, among many other things, would apply Federal Communications Commission accessibility mandates on TV programming to Internet video, as well as the requirement that emergency information delivered over the 'net be accessible to the visually impaired.

The bill would update the Communications Act to reflect the changes in video delivery since then, something top
Democratic legislators have signaled they want to do with the entire Communications Act of 1996, from which the
current accessibility rules for TV stem.

"Although Congress has previously acted to ensure access to communications devices by people with disabilities,"
said committee Democrats in a briefing paper on the bill, "these laws were last updated in 1996. Since that
time, the communications marketplace has undergone a fundamental transformation, driven by broadband. Internet-based and digital technologies are now pervasive, offering innovative and exciting ways to communicate and share information."

The FCC's national broadband plan suggests that Justice update its interpretation of accessibiilty to commercial
establishments under the Americans With Disabilities Act to include access to Web sites.

The bill would also require that equipment used to view video programming be able to display closed captioning
and video description services and that VoIP providers pay into the Telecommunications Services Relay Fund.
Witnesses at the hearing are scheduled to include James Assey, executive vice president of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, and Consumer Electronics Association President Gary Shapiro.
NCTA was still working on its testimony at press time.

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