The 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.