Democrats Debut Communications, Video, & Tech Accessibility Act


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Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) speaks with reporters on the US Capitol Aug. 6, 2022. Photo: Francis Chung (AP)

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In the wake of the midterm elections, Democratic leaders within the House and Senate have launched a invoice crafted to make sure rising applied sciences hold tempo with the wants of individuals with disabilities. The effort is receiving widespread reward from teams such because the Blinded Veterans Association and Communications Service for the Deaf, and lawmakers are pushing for a swift passage within the lame duck session.

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The Communications, Video, and Technology Accessibility Act, or CVTA, would amend key parts of the present federal accessibility regulation by, amongst different measures, requiring the advance and enlargement of closed captioning and audio description requirements for on-line streaming platforms (along with tv ), the authors stated. It would additionally replace necessities to make closed captioning and audio descriptions extra simply accessible.

The invoice, coauthored by Sen. Edward Markey, would additional assist to enhance entry to video programming for people who find themselves deaf and use signal language, and, in accordance with the authors, would empower the Federal Communications Commission to “ensure accessibility regulations keep pace with emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence and augmented or virtual reality platforms.”

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“As technology has evolved rapidly over the last two decades, much of our economy and day-to-day lives have moved online. Unfortunately, accessibility standards have stayed largely the same, leaving people with disabilities behind,” stated Rep. Anna Eshoo, senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and a co-author of the invoice.

Eshoo acknowledged that, as of final 12 months, greater than two-thirds of people that had been blind or had low imaginative and prescient reported points with applied sciences obligatory for the roles. And round 70% of scholars who’re deaf or arduous of listening to reported comparable challenges in instructional environments, she stated.

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Sen. Markey, a coauthor of the present federal regulation — often called the twenty first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) — stated applied sciences had modified a lot since CVAA’s passage. “What hasn’t changed is our obligation to make sure that everyone – including people with disabilities – has equal access to the services and technologies they need to thrive,” he stated.

The newer CVTA, in the meantime, was introduced with the endorsement of FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, who stated in assertion:

“Accessibility means equal opportunity to create, participate, and communicate—and promoting accessible technology is an important part of our agency’s mission. To do so effectively we need to keep up with emerging technologies. This legislation will help us do just that, by ensuring that people with disabilities have full access to communication products and services that are necessary to participate equally in today’s world, while laying a foundation for accessibility in future technologies.”

Eric Bridges, government director of the American Council of the Blind, stated the CVAA had “laid the foundation for accessible technology and inclusive media for people who are blind, low vision, and Deafblind,” and this replace would make sure that important communications applied sciences stay accessible and “reiterate our nation’s commitment to accessible media and video content, regardless of how or where it is viewed by consumers.”

“This update to the groundbreaking 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act takes into account how rapidly technology is changing,” added Barbara Kelley, government director of the Hearing Loss Association for America (HLAA). The CVTA would, she stated, “ensure people will have access to video conferencing platforms with built-in accessibility features, such as automatic captioning functions that will allow people with hearing loss to be fully part of the conversation.”

“That’s real progress,” Kelley stated.

Numerous different teams targeted on accessibility have endorsed the invoice, together with the National Federation of the Blind, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the American Foundation for the Blind, and the United Spinal Association, amongst others.



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