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House Approves Bill to Enhance Internet Access for Disabled

newadalogoThe House yesterday voted 348 to 23 to pass a bill that gives Americans with disabilities full access to the Internet and television.

The 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, which was sponsored by Rep. Edward J. Markey, gives people with disabilities more options to view and listen to programs on the Internet and smartphones through video captions for the hearing impaired, better descriptions of smartphone screens for the blind and hearing-aid compatible Internet telecom equipment.

“The ADA mandated physical ramps into buildings,” Markey said. “Today, individuals with disabilities need online ramps to the Internet so they can get to the Web from wherever they happen to be.”

The legislation also gives the blind audible descriptions of on-screen action, makes cable TV program guides and selection menus accessible to people with vision loss, requires remote controls to have buttons that easily access closed captioning, provides financial support to help disabled buy accessible Internet technology and sets new federal standards that the telecommunications industry will follow.

The passing of the bill marks a historic accomplishment for the individuals with disabilities as yesterday marked the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“Today’s ‘Miracle Worker’ is technology, and here’s what it looks like: It’s not just about touching the palm like it was in Annie and Helen’s day, but about touching the pad,” Markey said.

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One comment

  1. This is great news and obviously a huge step in the right direction! It took many years for the FCC to mandate captions for broadcast television, and in hindsight it was a no-brainer. H.R.3101 is a necessary extension for online media. There are some interesting companies popping up that have begun to address compliance in innovative ways. For example, 3Play Media (www.3playmedia.com) uses a new technology that reduces the cost of high quality transcription and captioning services for web video.

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