I came to DC when I was 17 to save the world. After countless internships of saving the world one envelope and pot of coffee at a time, I gave up my legislative dreams to work for the special interest groups as an Event Planner. I never lost my political interest, and still try to keep up with RollCall in between my other more important new sites.
One of the Mom's from MCAHIC just posted this update about the Closed Captioning Bill on our list-serv.
Congressional Quarterly today:
Bill Would Set Deadline for Updating Wireless Devices For Deaf and Blind
By Adrianne Kroepsch, CQ Staff
A senior member of the House Energy and Commerce panel signaled Thursday that he wants to set a deadline for the wireless industry to bring closed captioning to screens on handheld devices, among other changes that would bring newer technologies up to speed with the needs of the deaf and blind.
The warning — from Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., chairman of the Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet — accompanied draft legislation that would overhaul decade-old laws that first required communications access for the disabled in an era of analog television and wireline phones.
The draft would address a host of digital hurdles for the disabled. Among many things, it would scrap a rule requiring closed captioning only for television screens 13 inches and bigger in an effort to bring captions to iPods, Blackberries and other personal mobile devices that play video.
It would require video producers to apply closed captioning to content distributed on the Internet, require electronics manufacturers to put a closed captioning button on TV remote controls and reinstate a law overturned in 2002 that required broadcasters and cable companies to make some programming audible for the blind.
The proposed requirements are sparking resistance from the communications industry that Markey called “eerily similar” to opposition he faced when battling to enact the original closed captioning law in 1990.
“We were told that mandating closed captioning would add $20 to the price of a TV set and that it was overly burdensome,” Markey said. In the end, he said, closed captioning cost about a dollar per set and became indispensable not only to the deaf and hearing-impaired, but to immigrant families learning English and to sports watchers in bars across the country.
Markey singled out the wireless lobby in particular on Thursday, asking carriers and device manufacturers to help him set a deadline under which to work out a slew of new standards governing communications access for the disabled. “We can set what the deadline would be, legislate that, then we can work out the standards. . . . It’s amazing how much people can get done under a deadline,” Markey said.
Since Congress took up the issue of disabled access in the 1990s, many new services have empowered the deaf and blind — such as text messaging, new audio functions on mobile phones, and instant messaging over the Internet. But as technology has advanced across the board, the disabled have continued to lose ground in a number of other ways, argue Markey and the proponents of his bill.