Tag Archives: action item

US Action Item: Encourage the Senate to Adopt HR 3101

In June, I wrote an action item asking readers to support The Twenty First Century Video and Telecommunications Accessibility Act. I’m pleased to report that the House version of the bill, HR 3101, just passed, thanks to a lot of work by disability advocates (and a few FWD readers)! Now, it’s the Senate’s turn. The Senate has its own version of the bill, and we are faced with either Senate passage of their version and then reconciliation (writing a bill that both chambers will agree to) or Senate adoption and passage of HR 3101, at which point the bill can be sent to the White House for the President to sign.

The Senate version, S 3304, is not as strong as HR 3101. Neither version requires captioning for web-only content, but HR 3101 requires reporting on captioning of content generated for the web. This opens the door to possible regulatory action in the future to mandate Internet captions. Advocates, including Marlee Matlin, want to see the Senate adopting HR 3101, the stronger bill, to pave the way to better captioning for online content.

I’m writing today to ask those of you in the United States to write your Senators and ask them to support Senate adoption and passage of HR 3101. If your Senator is on the Committee for Commerce, Science, and Transportation, so much the better! The Senate could be voting as early as this week, so consider this  a time-sensitive issue.

You can follow the push for better Internet captions at Caption Action 2, which also has a Facebook community you can join.

Below the fold, a draft letter you can send to your Senator. I highly encourage you to personalise it a bit if you can, because personalised letters are weighted more heavily.

Continue reading US Action Item: Encourage the Senate to Adopt HR 3101

US Action Item: Support House Resolution 3101/Senate Resolution 3304

House Resolution (H.R.) 3101/Senate Resolution (S) 33041, also known as The Twenty First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, just went through committee hearings, nearly a year after being introduced. Referral to committee is the second step that happens after a bill gets introduced; in this case, H.R. 3101 has been referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce in the House and S 3304 is in the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation in the Senate. The committees will report on the outcome of their hearings and if that report is favourable, it will be brought to the floor for a vote. If both houses approve, the bill passes and the President can sign it into law.

This piece of legislature is one that I would really like to see pass.

What is The Twenty First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act?

If you like to view things at the source, you can read the text of the bill here. If you’d rather not, the quick thumbnail is that it’s a bill mandating accessibility for Internet-enabled telecommunications devices. Some highlights from a one page summary provided by the Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology:

  • Allocates up to $10 million/year for equipment used by people who are deaf-blind (Currently:  Inadequate state programs that distribute some free or discounted telephone equipment, but little available for people who are deaf-blind)
  • Clarifies the scope of relay services to include calls between and among people with disabilities and requires Internet-based service providers to contribute to the Interstate Relay Fund
  • Extends closed captioning obligations to video programming provided by, or generally considered comparable to programming provided by, a television broadcast station, even when distributed over the Internet: covers video programming that was previously captioned for television viewing, live video programming, and new video programming provided by or generally considered to be comparable to programming provided by multichannel programming distributors; does not cover user-generated content (e.g., YouTube videos posted by individuals) (Current law:  Captioning required on most broadcast, cable and satellite TV shows)
  • Requires easy access to closed captions via remote control and on-screen menus

The National Association of the Deaf has more detail on the bill here.

How can you support it?

You can start by checking out the list of sponsors to see if your representative is listed. If your representative is on there, send ou a polite note expressing thanks for support. If your representative is not, you can send a letter asking that ou consider sponsoring the bill. COAT has a template available, although it is helpful to customise it a bit to make it more personal.

Don’t know who your representative is or not sure about how to contact your rep? The ‘Write Your Representative‘ tool will help you.

It’s also a good idea to contact your Senators to let them know that you support S 3304 and you would like them to support the bill. If your Senators happen to be on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, so much the better. You can see a list of Senate cosponsors here.

Caption Action 2 is keeping up on H.R. 3101 and posting regular updates.

  1. The different bill numbers reflect the separate systems used in the House and Senate. The bills must be identical for both houses to pass it and it to enter law.