Thursday, December 17, 2009

Cosponsor #26 for HR 3101!

Today we learned that Representative Bob Filner (D-CA) has signed on to HR 3101! Now we have 26 cosponsors for HR 3101, all Democratic though. We STILL need a Republican.

How did Bob Filner come to sign on to HR 3101? Caption Action 2 tracks cosponsors for two other bills in Congress that also benefit deaf and hard of hearing people: the Hearing Aid Tax Credit (HR 1646) and the Medicare Hearing Health Care Enhancement Act (HR 3024). Filner recently signed on to HR 3024, so Jamie called Filner's office to speak to his legislative director about HR 3101. That call was yesterday. Today, Jamie got an email from Filner's office informing her he would be cosponsoring HR 3101 too.

If Jamie can do it, so can you. So let's hit the phones and make those calls! Send those emails as well.

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Michigan Deaf Association Supports HR3101

Please welcome for today, our guest blogger Tamara "Tami" Davidson. Tami writes:

Yesterday I found out that congressman Gary Peters (D-9) who represents Oakland County, Michigan may be asked by his legislative assistant to look into HR 3101 with hopes he may co-sponsor the bill within two weeks.

Because I am not a resident of Oakland County, I contacted a few organizations located in or near that area, asking them to tell the residents of Oakland County to email the office of Rep. Gary Peters and encourage him to look at the bill.

Today, I received an email from Scot A. Pott, President of Michigan Deaf Association, Inc. (statewide organization for, of and by Deaf People.) His reply was:

I am more than happy to send a letter and let them know that MDA is endorsing the bill, HR 3101.

This copy is being sent to MDA Executive Board members.

Scot A Pott
MDA President

The email is cc'ed to other staff members. One of them replied and said in part: "Why should we wait that long? MDA should join to support it, too."

Well, this is kind of unexpected, but [I am] delighted to know that MDA is endorsing the bill HR 3101.


Note from Caption Action 2;

What is your local deaf organization doing to support HR 3101? Tell us!

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Action Alert! Contact Rep. Zack Space's Office!

We have a chance to get a subcommittee member's support! This is the House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet. Today Caption Action 2 got an email from Jillian Carroll ( in Ohio Representative Zack Space (D-18)'s office. Carroll wrote: "I just spoke to Mark [Mark Bayer in Ed Markey's office] and let him know that we were taking a look at cosponsoring the bill."

We need people to call Rep. Zack Space's office and *ASK*, not demand, that he cosponsor HR 3101. He can be contacted at these numbers:

DC office (202) 225-6265
Ohio offices: (330) 364-4300, (740) 452-6338, (740) 779-1636

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Representative #25 Signs on to HR 3101!

Today, #25 signed on not long after #24. Caption Action 2 had email confirmation this evening from the office of Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA). The email stated that they had emailed Markey's office and asked that McGovern be added as a cosponsor of HR 3101! McGovern had been a cosponsor last year of the previous failed version of HR 3101. Welcome back, McGovern!

Caption Action 2 is discovering that phone calls work better than emails. Caption Action 2 had emailed McGovern's office in September, and again in October, but what worked was the phone call! Jamie suspects that emails often get overlooked, staffers are swamped with emails, or in some cases, the emails even get shifted into the spam folder. So hit those phones - calling your representative works!

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Former Cosponsor Becomes 24th Cosponsor!

Caption Action 2 just got confirmation that Massachusetts Representative Michael Capuano (D-8) just became HR 3101's 24th cosponsor! He was a previous cosponsor of the captioning bill that died last year.

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Monday, December 7, 2009

Meet Our 12,000th Member!

Recently, Chris became our 12,000th member on the Facebook cause Caption Action 2. We interviewed Chris about his membership:

Q: Why did you join Caption Action 2?

A: I joined because I want to show my support for HR 3101. I was reluctant at first because I dislike Facebook and use it rarely. However seeing the opportunity to be the 12,000th person to sign on made me look past the Facebook factor.

I think its important that we not only make our voices heard but show our numbers as well. In the hearing world people who are deaf are often viewed as "one of them", the kind of people you only see on TV. In my experience we're certainly treated like we don't exist.

I think it's wonderful that 12,000+ people are in support of Caption Action 2, consider how many more people are out there that don't use social networking, are unaware of HR 3101, or simply choose other channels to express their support.

Q: Are you deaf? (Many Caption Action 2 supporters are hearing people)

A: Yes, I'm deaf. My progressive hearing loss was first discovered about 16 years ago, I've been using the "deaf" label for about the last two years.

Q: What does HR 3101 mean to you?

A: HR 3101 will help keep movies and TV available to the hearing or sight impaired. Since the last time we've had legislation like this, laws and regulations have fallen terribly behind the technology. The industry has proven that it will not provide captions or descriptive audio unless forced.

Q: Have you written to your Representative yet?

A: No (Caption Action 2 provided Chris with the link to the Congress contact list, on the blogroll)

Q: Do you have any previous captioning advocacy experience?

A: No, aside from customer service complaints to Disney and Netflix et al. I have no previous activism experience.

Q: Anything else you would like to add?

A: The technology required for HR 3101 exists right now. In fact it has existed for years. Are you aware that movie pirates can see American movies with Romanian subtitles before I can see the same movie with English subtitles?

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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Help Rescue HR 3101! Put These Buttons On Your Site!

Bloggers and webmasters in the deaf and hard of hearing community, here are two wonderful buttons designed by Tamara Davidson. Please help us get Rick Boucher to move the HR 3101 bill, and get John Kerry to introduce the Senate version, by putting these buttons on your blog or website. Right-click and save the buttons to your hard drive under any file name you want (we suggest boucher_button.jpg and kerry_button.jpg). Link the Boucher button to, and the Kerry button to Under each button, you could optionally link to the HR 3101 Fact sheet: either web or PDF.

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Friday, December 4, 2009

Two Men Now Control Access to the Internet for Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Two men!

Two men have the power to get HR 3101 - and its future Senate equivalent - passed or kill it.

Who are they?

Virginia Representative Rick Boucher (D-9th)

AND Massachusetts Senator John Kerry (Democratic).

Why do they have this much power? Why is it that these two men have the power to move HR 3101 (and a future Senate equivalent) no matter how many cosponsors we get?

They have this power because:

a. Rep. Rick Boucher is the chairperson of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Communications, Technology & the Internet.
b. Sen. John Kerry is the chairperson of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee's Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet.

We, the deaf and hard of hearing community, must push Rick Boucher to bring HR 3101 to the Subcommittee for a vote. We ESPECIALLY need for people who live in the area that Boucher represents, to push Boucher. Plus we must get John Kerry to introduce an exact mirror version of HR 3101 in the Senate. The best person to introduce a bill in the Senate is the person who chairs the commitee that would handle the bill, because the chair usually expedites (speeds up) votes on their own bills, and that person is Kerry!

ANOTHER problem that we have is that so far, NONE of the 23 cosponsors HR 3101 has are from the House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, & the Internet. Without any support from within the Subcommittee, there is NO ONE to push Boucher to bring HR 3101 to the floor.

What can you do about these two men? If Boucher is your representative, contact his office to insist that he bring the HR 3101 bill to the floor. If you know anyone - family, friends, long-lost cousins - who live in his area, please let them know about HR 3101. It is CRITICAL that you network, network - ask around Facebook, on Twitter, through email and VP, if anyone knows anyone who lives in Boucher's area. We live in a world where social networking empowers us. Let's use the power of social networking to get Rick Boucher to bring the bill to the floor for a vote!

If you do not live in his area and do not know anyone living in his area, go ahead and contact his office anyway. He is less likely to listen to people not from his area, BUT if enough of us contact him, he may listen.

We must not let these two men deny us equal access to the Internet.

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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Congratulations to New Jersey and Minnesota

Right after we sent out the December Caption Action 2 newsletter to Facebook members, we discovered three more representatives have signed on to HR 3101! New cosponsors for HR 3101 are:

New Jersey

Representative Steven Rothman (D-9)


Representative Collin Peterson (D-7)
Representative Betty McCollum (D-4)

Now we have 23 cosponsors for HR 3101 - all Democratic.

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Caption Action 2 at 12,000!

Tonight Caption Action 2 reached a total of 12,000 members on Facebook, and we are still growing. However, the clock is really starting to tick now. Take a look at that number to the right; it is less than 400 now. We have just a few weeks before Congress breaks for the Christmas holiday, and they do not return to work until after the New Year. After that, we have only one year, minus weekends and holidays, to get HR 3101 passed. So the pressure is on, folks.

Now that we have reached 12,000 the Caption Action 2 flyer has been updated. Download it from the Blogroll on the right side of this page. Here's an idea; print the flyer and pass it around at the holiday parties you are going to this year. Not everyone is on Facebook, or Twitter, or reads blogs. We need YOUR help to reach those deaf and hard of hearing people and their families who are not aware of HR 3101.

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Friday, November 27, 2009

Will HR 3101 Create Jobs?

At a time when unemployment is still high, a potential selling point for HR 3101 when you contact your Representatives is job creation. As already stated before, the Google/YouTube automatic captions are imperfect, unedited captions. The quality is not the same as what you have come to expect when watching television shows. When you watch the news live on television, the captions are produced by a professionally skilled real-time captioner. If HR 3101 passes, it could mean an increase in captioning jobs, for both offline pre-recorded programming and live programming.

So if you point out the potential of HR 3101 to create jobs to your Congressional representatives, that could be the swing factor that pushes some of them towards supporting the bill. We don't know how many jobs could be created. Given that we are talking about the Internet, and some programming may be produced that is exclusive to the Internet, it could be a lot of jobs! Most of the caption-producing jobs will go to hearing people, but perhaps some deaf and hard of hearing people will also find other employment at captioning service providers that have to increase their hiring to meet rising demand.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

HR 3101 Gets Its 20th Cosponsor!

Jamie was hoping her own representative would be cosponsor #20, but Representative Emmanuel Cleaver, II (D-Missouri) beat him to it! Jamie got an email today from a legislative assistant in Cleaver's office that said simply, "Thank you for stopping by our office yesterday to bring this bill to my attention. Rep. Cleaver has signed on." That was fast. Jamie hadn't even sent a follow-up email yet. Welcome to the growing HR 3101 club, Rep. Cleaver!

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Caption Action 2's Latest Visit to Capitol Hill

Today Jamie made her last visit to Capitol Hill - for the House side. (Senate side is next once we have a Senate version of HR 3101). Things were quiet because Congress is not in session until December. The staff was hard (?) at work though - Jamie noticed at least a few "while the cat's away, the mice will play" parties.

Jamie visited the offices of 88 Congressmen and Congresswomen, plus had a meeting with her own representative's legislative director. The meeting with the legislative director went very well! Jamie left with the hopeful impression that her own representative would support HR 3101 soon. The LD had several questions about HR 3101, not all of which Jamie was able to answer. For the ones she was not able to answer, she referred him to the Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology.

In another office, the staff person asked, "Why HR 3101? What about Google and YouTube captions?" That led to Jamie sitting next to the staff person to explain that we still need HR 3101 because as great as it is that Google is introducing automatic captioning, those captions are not the same quality as the captions we are used to on television and DVD. Google's captions are imperfect machine generated captions; the ones we are used to on television and DVD have been carefully produced and edited, with the exception of live captioning. But even the live captioning is done by professional real-time captioners.

This being Capitol Hill, Jamie did have one surprise. In the office of Representative Debbie Halvorson (Illinois), the young staffer sitting at the desk began to use sign language with her. It was fairly fluent sign language, and Jamie exclaimed, "You know sign language!" He called someone over, and another young staffer came over to talk to Jamie, signing even more fluently. He had deaf parents! Jamie had bumped into an adult child of deaf parents, a CODA! He did not know about HR 3101, and asked Jamie to send him a PDF of the SIGNews November article on HR 3101. You just never know where you will discover a "deaf connection!"

In fact, this time, it was the SIGNews article that impressed the Hill staff. When Jamie displayed her copy of SIGNews to Hill staff, more often than not the reaction was "Wow!" The big headline made them realize just how significant HR 3101 is.

Below is a list of Representatives' offices that Jamie visited today, by state. If your representative is on this list, please follow up with a call or email:

Young, Don Alaska
Faleomavaega, Eni American Samoa
Flake, Jeff Arizona
Snyder, Vic Arkansas
Berman, Howard California
Chu, Judy California
Dreier, David California
Harman, Jane California
Herger, Wally California
Lewis, Jerry California
Matsui, Doris California
Miller, George California
Nunes, Devin California
Pelosi, Nancy California
Radanovich, George California
Thompson, Mike California
Waxman, Henry California
DeLauro, Rosa Connecticut
Kosmas, Suzanne Florida
Meek, Kendrick Florida
Posey, Bill Florida
Young, CW Bill Florida
Bishop, Sanford Georgia
Deal, Nathan Georgia
Linder, John Georgia
Price, Tom Georgia
Biggert, Judy Illinois
Costello, Jerry Illinois
Davis, Danny Illinois
Halvorson, Debbie Illinois
Jackson Jr., Jesse Illinois
Kirk, Mark Illinois
Manzullo, Donald Illinois
Rush, Bobby Illinois
Braley, Bruce Iowa
Latham, Tom Iowa
Jenkins, Lynn Kansas
Rogers, Harold Kentucky
Whitfield, Ed Kentucky
Cao, Joseph Louisiana
Fleming, John Louisiana
Bartlett, Roscoe Maryland
Neal, Richard Massachusetts
Oberstar, James Minnesota
Paulson, Erik Minnesota
Peterson, Collin (became a cosponsor!) Minnesota
Clay, William Missouri
Cleaver, Emmanuel (became a cosponsor!) Missouri
Skelton, Ike Missouri
Heller, Dean Nevada
Pallone Jr., Frank New Jersey
Sires, Albio New Jersey
Teague, Harry New Mexico
Arcuri, Michael New York
Clarke, Yvette New York
Crowley, Joseph New York
Engel, Eliot New York
Tonko, Paul New York
Price, David North Carolina
Sablan, Gregorio Northern Mariana Islands
Boehner, John Ohio
Cole, Tom Oklahoma
Defazio, Peter Oregon
Dent, Charles Pennsylvania
Holden, Tim Pennsylvania
Murtha, John Pennsylvania
Sestak, Joe Pennsylvania
Shuster, Bill Pennsylvania
Thompson, Glen Pennsylvania
Clyburn, James South Carolina
Cohen Steve Tennessee
Duncan, John Tennessee
Hall, Ralph Texas
Hensarling, Jeb Texas
Jackson Lee, Sheila Texas
Johnson, Eddie Bernice Texas
Marchant, Kenny Texas
McCaul, Michael Texas
Ortiz, Solomon Texas
Smith, Lamar Texas
Thornberry, Mac Texas
Chaffetz, Jason Utah
Matheson, Jim Utah (return visit)
Wolf, Frank Virginia
McDermott, Jim Washington
Smith, Adam Washington
Obey, David Wisconsin
Lummis, Cynthia Wyoming

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Maine Representative Becomes 19th Cosponsor

Caption Action 2 just learned this morning that HR3101 got its 19th cosponsor!

Let's welcome from Maine, Representative Chellie Pingree (D-1)!

Thanks to the anonymous commenter in the previous post for alerting us!

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Cosponsor 18 - Rep. Earl Blumenauer

Caption Action 2 just learned that we got our 18th HR3101 cosponsor. Let us welcome Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-3)!

We're doing good so far, but we still have a long ways to go.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Two Ladies - 1 Fully Grown/1 Not Fully Grown - Make Strides on HR 3101

Recently, two deaf ladies with a huge stake in the matter, did their parts for HR 3101. One lady is fully grown up, the other lady is not quite fully grown up yet. Both of them were dynamic in their accomplishments.

Marlee Matlin

The fully grown up deaf lady is Marlee Matlin.

Marlee Matlin and Ed Markey
Marlee spent the entire day of November 5 visiting key offices on Capitol Hill in her role as National Association of the Deaf spokesperson for accessible broadband services and internet media. Marlee connected with, among others, the office of Representative Rick Boucher, the chairperson of the key House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet. She also met with key people in the Senate (remember a Senate version of HR 3101 is in the works). Details are in this illustrated NAD report. This report also includes a link to a YouTube video excerpt of the FCC hearing with only Marlee's testimony, plus a transcript.


Marlee took a few minutes to meet with Jehanne, a young deaf vlogger who is certain to get the job of the SIGNews editor when she grows up. Jehanne taped a captioned interview with Marlee.

Jehanne and Marlee
During this interview, they discuss what young deaf and hard of hearing people like Jehanne (and hearing friends) can do to help get HR 3101 passed! As it turns out, according to Marlee, they can do plenty to help!

In the near future, Caption Action 2 will have some exciting news to report. For now...mum's the word.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Broadband for America Blog Post!

Today Caption Action 2 had its first-ever guest blog, on the Broadband for America website! What is Broadband for America? It is a coalition of companies and organizations focused on promoting and increasing the availability of broadband. Jamie met a representative from Broadband for America at the recent Federal Communications Commission field hearing on broadband access for people with disabilities. She made contact with them afterwards, and the happy result is the blog post below. (The same blog is on the Broadband for America website, but we are reprinting it here.)

As the FCC gathers recommendations for a national broadband plan, it faces a historic opportunity to help improve the lives of all deaf and hard of hearing individuals.
A recent field hearing on broadband access for people with disabilities outlined several of the necessary improvements an effective national broadband plan could have for people with disabilities, from improved closed captioning services to improved emergency services like 911.
Some of the Benefits of Broadband for People With Disabilities:
1. Access to high speed Internet provides access to goods and services that people with disabilities would otherwise face obstacles in obtaining.
2. In addition to increased commercial opportunities, broadband provides educational opportunities, including the option of attending distance-learning courses.
3. Broadband increases access to job opportunities for the disabled, particularly jobs that would otherwise require difficult or unnecessary commuting as part of the job search and application process.
4. Broadband permits users of Telecommunications Relay Services (TRS) to use Video Relay Services (VRS) to communicate more easily with voice telephone users.
One broadband access issue specific to deaf and hard of hearing people is closed captioning. For example, section 508 requires accessibility of government web video, but it is not unusual to come across a government web video that is not captioned. In fact, YouTube has a US Government section, Many of the videos there are not captioned.
Another issue is that the internet and regular television are merging. This means that internet television needs to be captioned just like regular television. Captioning on the internet is also important for educational access. Without captions on the internet, deaf and hard of hearing people miss out on news, entertainment, and educational opportunities.
Jamie Berke is a leader of Caption Action 2, a cause on Facebook.
Update: Tonight Caption Action 2 checked YouTube/USGovernment and found a big increase in captioned video. There is still some not captioned on the 86 channels in YouTube/USGovernment (so far, found 19 that are not captioning or caption very little), but the uncaptioned portion is getting smaller and smaller, probably because of section 508.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

HR 3101 Could Help Oral Deaf - Signing Deaf Friends!

Recently, there has been some opposition in the deaf community to section 103 in HR 3101. Caption Action 2 will try to explain it, using a combination of resources.

Exact Language from HR 3101

SEC. 103. RELAY SERVICES. (a) DEFINITION.—Paragraph (3) of section 225(a) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 225(a)(3)) is amended to read as follows: ‘‘(3) TELECOMMUNICATIONS RELAY SERVICES.—The term ‘telecommunications relay services’ means telephone transmission that provides the ability for an individual who is deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind, or who has a speech disability to engage in communication by wire or radio with one or more individuals, in a manner that is functionally equivalent to the ability of a hearing individual who does not have a speech disability to communicate using voice communication services by wire or radio.’’.
What Does That Mean?

The above language is vague, which may be part of the reason for the opposition by some people. As Kelby Brick explained on Twitter, it means that deaf people who use sign language would be able to use relay services to communicate with non-signing deaf people. Kelby provided further information to clarify why this provision was added to HR 3101. He pointed to a PDF of Consumer Groups’ Expectations of Responsibilities and Goals for the Disability Rights Office (DRO) Federal Communications Commission, which has the following language:

"Grant the pending petition to clarify that TRS includes communications between and among people with disabilities and not only communications between an individual with a disability and one without a disability"

The Petition to the FCC

What petition is this language referring to? Again Kelby pointed to the original source, a petition to the FCC from January 28, 2009, Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech Disabilities, CG Docket No. 03-123. This is a 25-page document that asks that the definition of a relay service be expanded to include calls made with a combination of multiple communication assistants and technologies (e.g. captioned telephone, video relay, etc), because section 225 of the Communications Act requires "relay services that are the functional equivalent of traditional voice services provided to hearing users." Page 9 states "Although VRS now appears to be the preferred mode of communication for many former TTY users who sign, millions of Americans with hearing loss must still rely on text-based communication."

More Interaction Between ASL Deaf and Oral Deaf

In other words, while many deaf people use sign language video relay services, what about those deaf and hard of hearing people who do not use sign language or who do not know sign language? The days when everyone used TTYs are gone! What if a non-signing deaf person wants to contact a signing deaf person without using instant messaging or email? This provision of HR 3101 could encourage friendships between oral and signing deaf people! Or what if someone from Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf wants to collaborate with someone at the National Association of the Deaf?

Not a Sunny Day Online for Deaf Kids

Can you tell me how to get...
How to get to Sesame Street?

40 years ago two deaf five year olds could not watch Sesame Street because closed captioning did not exist yet. Today it is 40 years later and today's deaf five year olds can not watch Sesame Street online. How do you think Bert and Ernie feel about that? The Cookie Monster would probably chomp up the page in frustration.

The Sesame Street website at PBS does not have captions on its videos for children. See for yourself at Ironic isn't it? A show that purports to be open and accessible to all children regardless of race or disability does not caption its online videos.

Forty years later, Sesame Street should be ashamed of itself. Get HR 3101 passed so another generation of deaf and hard of hearing kids does not have to miss out on Big Bird, Ernie, and Oscar online!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Only Half Access to Cable Without HR 3101

How people get their cable TV is going to change very soon - and deaf and hard of hearing viewers are at risk for only getting half the access to what they pay for. Comcast is going to offer their cable programming online starting in December. (Time Warner, Verizon, and DirecTV are planning to do the same. Apple plans a TV service via iTunes) Hearing people will pay one fee and for that one fee, have the choice of watching their cable either on regular television or on the Internet. Deaf people? For now, outta luck, based on what Rosaline Crawford, Director of the Law and Advocacy Center at the National Association of the Deaf, said.

Jamie asked:
"There is a clear trend towards cable TV companies offering access to cable programming via the Internet. People can pay for a cable subscription, then view it on either Internet or regular TV. My question is, when the cable programming is shown on the Internet, are the captions shown too? In other words, do the line 21 captions carry through to the Internet?"

Rosaline's response:
"Today, most TV video programming distributed over the Internet does not have closed captions. That's one of the reasons why we need to get H.R. 3101 passed. When passed, H.R. 3101 will ensure that broadcasters and "multichannel video programming distributors" (such as cable and satellite TV companies) will provide closed captions for the video programming they distribute over the Internet.

How those closed captions will be transmitted over the Internet is a question best addressed by people with technical expertise. As I understand it, the caption codes transmitted for decoding and display on TVs (called "line 21 captions") need to be reconfigured when a program is distributed over the Internet. In other words, Internet caption technology is not the same as TV "line 21 caption" technology. There are many groups and people working to develop a standard for Internet captions. It also makes sense that this new standard for Internet captions will build on and take advantage of existing "line 21 captions," so the entire process of producing captions does not need to be repeated for TV programs redistributed over the Internet.

The National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM at WGBH) spearheaded a group of Internet service providers to address Internet captioning. See Recently, the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) established a working group to create an industry standard for Internet captioning. See I have heard that the SMPTE standard may be established by the end of this year; they are very close to finishing. Also recently, NCAM at WGBH demonstrated that real-time captions for TV could be multi-purposed for a real-time simultaneous webcast. See

What I do know is that Internet captioning is possible. That is a fact demonstrated every day on many websites -- even YouTube. Having a standard for Internet captioning will just make it easier for everyone in the chain of video programming -- from production to distribution -- to provide captions."

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Rep. Andre Carson Becomes Cosponsor 17!

Cosponsor number seventeen just signed on! It's Indiana Representative Andre Carson (D-7).

No Republicans yet. Please do your part if your rep is Republican.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Guam Representative Becomes Cosponsor 16!

Just when Caption Action 2 gets the word about our fifteenth cosponsor, a sixteenth comes on!

Let us welcome Guam Representative Madeleine Bordallo (D).

Now we have surpassed the total number of cosponsors for last year's failed bill! Last year's failed bill had only 15 cosponsors. This year's bill has 16 so far!

As said before, we still need Republicans.

DC Representative Becomes 15th Cosponsor!

Let us welcome District of Columbia Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) as our fifteenth HR 3101 cosponsor!

Caption Action 2 still needs Republican cosponsors. This is another reason to contact your rep if he/she is Republican. Check the blogroll for Congressional staff contacts and how to find your representative including this post on instructions on how to find and write your representative.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Another Blast From the Past - Jamie's 1990 Statement

In 1990, when the Television Decoder Circuitry Act was working its way through Congress, Jamie wrote and submitted her own statement to Capitol Hill. Jamie did not testify on the Hill; she submitted her statement in response to a call for public comments. Here is what Jamie wrote. As you read the words of the young Jamie (subheadings have been added), bear in mind that if the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009 does not pass, in the future a young deaf person could be writing similar words, except that instead of talking about regular television, they could be talking about exclusive Internet television programming.

From the Archives of the First Caption Action: Jamie's Words in 1990

I am writing to testify about what closed captioning has meant to me. At 25, I am old enough to remember the frustration of trying to watch television without closed captions, and young enough that I have hope for the future of closed captioning.

Early Television Years

My early television years are a smorgasbord of memories of television programs that I enjoyed, but did not understand fully because they were not captioned. Like other tots my age, I watched Popeye, the Little Rascals, the Archies, and Casper the Friendly Ghost without understanding what was going on. I relied solely on the visual humor, using my detective skills to figure out as much as I could of a story. I never knew, and may never know, what Popeye said to Bluto, what Spanky told Alfalfa, the insults exchanged between Archie and Reggie, and the words to the Casper theme song. What were those kids on Sesame Street singing?

Later when I got older, I watched Batman without knowing what Adam West said to Burt Ward. Little House on the Prairie began, and although I loved Laura Ingalls I could not lipread Melissa Gilbert. Nor could I lipread Gary Coleman on Diff'rent Strokes.

Watching television in the days before closed captioning meant only two things. One, it meant struggling to lipread actors in live action programs and pounding my parents and sister with questions. Sometimes they would get so fed up with my constant questioning - what did they say? why are they laughing? what happened? what happened next? what the heck is going on??? - that they would yell at me to shut up or leave the room, and let them enjoy the show.

Two, it meant very often not watching the network shows at all. I had to be content with open-captioned versions of PBS programs like Once Upon a Classic adn Zoom. Those were good programs, but I wanted to watch Happy Days and the Fonz! While the Fonz was all the rage, I had to be satisfied with the PBS offerings and do my homework in the next room while my family enjoyed the best TV had to offer in the 1970s.

What about news? I loved newspapers from the time I could read. Naturally, I wanted to watch the TV news too. Around age eight or nine, I discovered that if I wanted to see the ABC World News Tonight, I would have to either get up at six o clock in the morning to see it in its open captioned version on PBS or stay up until after eleven pm - not a good hour for a nine year old.

When in 1979 CBS aired "And Your Name is Jonah," starring Jeffrey Bravin, I was FURIOUS that it was not open-captioned. How dare they, I cried, how dare they show a movie about a deaf kid and not caption it? My classmates in the 9th grade said, "Oh, Jamie, we saw And Your Name is Jonah," and I snarled, "I couldn't understand it! It wasn't captioned!" Years later I finally got to see it on a tape in the Gallaudet University library.

Coming of Closed Captioning

When at fourteen I heard that closed captioning was coming, I decided to buy a decoder. My mom couldn't afford to buy me the decoder, which cost $300 then. So I saved all my baby sitting money and stopped buying clothes for six months. For six months the only new clothes I had were hand me ups from my sister (I am small so I could wear her old clothes) and gifts from relatives. I saved and saved the money and we ordered a decoder from Sears.

Finally, in Spring 1980, the decoder arrived at Sears. We went down there and I paid for my first decoder. My mom was so happy that she cried. To this day I don't know if she was crying because she was so happy that I finally had access to closed captioning, or because it meant the end of all my questions, questions while she was trying to watch a program. Frankly, I strongly suspect the latter.

Closed captioning began slowly, with just the news and a few programs. By then, Fonzie had grown up and was dating a woman with a little girl. Arnold Jackson was already in junior high. Archie and Casper were no longer on TV. Laura Ingalls was married. I had already missed all the early shows.

At first, CBS would not participate in closed captioning. CBS insisted that a teletext system would be better. The deaf community staged marches and protests in New York and elsewhere, calling on CBS to closed caption their programming. Finally, CBS caved in and began closed captioning in the early 1980s.

Since then, closed captioning on television has grown markedly. All prime time programming is now closed captioned, something I am very grateful for because I now have the same choices other people have.

Still Not Enough Captioned

However, there is still a lot of programming that is not closed captioned. Many classic, syndicated programs are still not closed captioned. I am still waiting for the day when I can watch I Love Lucy, something I have been dreaming of for years. Also, many old movies which air late at night are not closed captioned. Nor are some PBS programs, like the MacNeil Lehrer Newshour.

Cable TV has some captioned shows, but there should be some improvement. ...trying to decide whether to drop the Disney channel because the only captioning they do is very limited. It seems like Disney and several other cable channesl only do 'token' captioning, captioning a small amount of their product. I still can't watch anything on Cable News Network.

For ten years now, I have been longing for the day when everything on television would be closed captioned. I know that is an unrealistic dream, but having the most of what is on television closed captioned is a realistic objective. Despite all the progress made in recent years, closed captioning's growth is threatened by the simple fact that not enough of a market exists.

Since 1980, only 275,000 to 300,000 decoders have been sold or given away by the National Captioning Institute (NCI). NCI, a nonprofit organization, has done the best it can to publicize closed captioning with the funds available.

Too many people, both hearing and hearing impaired, do not know where they can buy decoders or do not even know about closed captioning. Last semester, a classmate asked me where his aging father could buy a Telecaption decoder because he is losing his hearing. Others can't afford it even though the cost has dropped. I need a new decoder to replace my first decoder which is on the living room television (I also have a second decoder for our second television), but it costs $180 for a new machine. Still others don't want to buy a decoder because they are hard of hearing and do not want to be identified as 'deaf' by having a conspicuous box on top of their television.

Until the technology for closed captioning is incorporated into televisions that people can buy at any store, I fear that the closed captioning's future will not be as bright as it could be. Unless the market is expanded markedly, potential supporters of closed captioning will look at the numbers - only 300,000 with a total potential market of 28 million deaf and hard of hearing people according to the Deafness Research Foundation of New York - and conclude that it is not a worthwhile investment to fund closed captioning of the programs they advertise on. Budget-conscious television and film producers may well come to the same conclusion.

Indeed, many video companies have already come to that conclusion. Since closed captioning is the last hope deaf people have of seeing and understanding movies shown in theaters, a national grass roots group has been formed to petition the video companies. That grass roots group, which I am one of the leaders of, is called Caption Action. To date, Caption Action has 25,000 signatures and has succeeded in persuading SONY Video Services to closed caption ALL of their video product.

However, there are still many small video companies that caption very little or do not caption anything at all. Cost is frequently cited as a factor. Until the number of caption-capable homes is multiplied tenfold, the video companies find it difficult to justify spending thousands to capation a video in the hopes of reaching a very small percentage of the population.

For years now I have dreamed of having a television with built-in decoder technology. The time has come for televisions with built-in decoder technology to be available to everyone. As the baby boom generation ages, a good number of them will lose their hearing. Already, at least thirty percent of older Americans are hearing impaired, according to the American Association of Retired Persons. These are people who will resent the idea of having to spend another two hundred dollars to be able to keep watching television. Give them a television with an on/off switch for closed captions, and the problem is solved.

It is too late for my generation, but this bill, the Television Decoder Circuitry Act, will guarantee that the next generation of deaf children will not be deprived of the chance to understand the Little Rascals. Who can forget Jackie trying to win Mary Ann's affections in "The First Seven Years?" I am still waiting to find out what it was Jackie said to Mary Ann that got her so mad she socked him in the nose.

Blast from the Past..Marlee Speaks in 1990!

In his latest vlog for Purple, Kelby Brick mentions that Marlee Matlin testified on Captiol Hill in 1990. Caption Action 2 searched for and found Marlee's words from her 1990 testimony for the Television Decoder Circuitry Act of 1990. Her words were found in this file.

Until the 1970s, deaf and hard-of-hearing persons had no access to television. Marlee Matlin, who is deaf and who testified at the hearing on this bill, described her experience: As a little girl growing up in Chicago, I had dreams just like any other child . . . to be a policeman, a dancer, a teacher, an actress. I was always told: follow your dreams and be what you want to be. No dream was beyond my reach. But in many of my dreams, I just sat by and watched without understanding a single word of what was being said. As a child, only through my mother could I understand the antics of "The Electric Company"; only through my dad could I understand what Mannix said to his Girl Friday; and only through my brothers could I understand the laughter on "All in the Family." There was no such thing as captioned television, and those moments of dreaming were not open to me. (Matlin Statement; June 20, 1990; p. 1.)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

HR 3101 Cartoon: No Captions Online!

Here is the special cartoon on HR 3101 by deaf cartoonist Tamara "Tami" Davidson!

The winner of the Caption Action 2 "write your rep" contest will get the original art to this cartoon.

Click on the cartoon to view a larger image.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Write Your Rep, Win Original Deaf Cartoon Art

Caption Action 2 is trying something new: a contest. The winner of the contest will get original cartoon art by the deaf cartoonist Tamara "Tami" Davidson, who is a Caption Action 2 supporter.

Contest instructions:

If you have not already done so, write to your Representative in Congress asking him or her to cosponsor HR 3101, by sending a direct email (see the downloadable spreadsheet for contacts). Or, write an old-fashioned letter on paper. Send Caption Action 2 proof that you have written to your Congressional Representative by either forwarding your sent-mail or sending a scan of your paper letter, to Jamie at

If you don't know who your representative is, here's the representative finder.

Your rep wants to hear from you! Here's how!

Winning the contest:

If your Representative becomes a cosponsor of HR 3101, the first person who wrote that Representative will receive original deaf cartoon art from Tamara Davidson. If there are others who also wrote the same Representative, they will receive signed copies of the original artwork.

Davidson is working on the cartoon now. When it is complete, we will do another post to showcase the cartoon! In the meantime, you can view examples of Davidson's deaf artwork on the website ASL Rose. The September issue of ASL Rose's e-newsletter featured a deaf cartoon by Davidson: Three healthy roses with ASL handshapes, followed by the same roses, now dead from neglect.

More artwork by Tamara Davidson on

February 2007 newsletter
October 2008 newsletter

Davidson also illustrated the children's ASL book, Have You Ever Seen...? Still more art can be seen on Tami's blog, Quiet Scribblings.

About Jamie and Tami:

Jamie and Tami go back a long way, back to the early 1980s at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf. Even then, Tami was a deaf cartoonist and she was an art major at NTID. Jamie, Tami, and a third girl collaborated on creating a deaf superhero character, Brenda the Windrider. Since graduating NTID, Tami has continued to create art, both professional art and deaf art.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Hold a HR 3101 Party, Get HR 3101 Passed!

Earlier today Jamie posted this on Twitter:

First tweet: I've been asked for ideas to get more people to contact their reps on subcommittee that has HR 3101. Here's an idea for feedback...

Second tweet:
Deaf people love to socialize. about HR 3101 parties?

Third tweet:
At an HR 3101 party speaker educates group on HR 3101. Have food, etc. During parties people write letters to reps online or on paper.

Last tweet:
What do you think? The HR 3101 party would be fun with a quote Highlights for Children.

People whose representatives are on this list should party especially hard! Alcohol optional.

Readers, what do you think? Bob and I would be happy to be guest speakers at an HR 3101 party in the metro Washington, DC area as long as you feed us!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Ohio, Let's Plant The HR 3101 Seed

Caption Action 2 put together this listing of Ohio Representatives. The state has one Representative that supports HR 3101: Representative Tim Ryan. However, there are 17 more Representatives who do not yet support HR 3101. Here are the Representative names and staff contacts:
Note: The seed reference is to the buckeye seed which grows into the buckeye tree, the state tree.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Illinois, Don't Let HR 3101 Blow Away in the Wind

When Bob and Jamie were young students together at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf in the early 1980s, Bob was living in a small town in Illinois. Jamie would tease Bob, "You live in Ill-inois!" Who could have predicted that in the future, Bob and Jamie would be together in Washington, DC? Or that they would be leading Caption Action 2 together?

Today, Jamie would not dare make fun of Bob for living in Illinois. After all, that is where President Obama was living before he moved to Washington, DC! Plus, Illinois is home to the popular deaf blogger and staunch Caption Action 2 supporter, Karen Putz of We don't think Obama is considered a constituent of Illinois Representatives anymore, but if you live in Illinois, here are your Representatives in Congress with their staff contact information.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

HR 3101 Needs Internet Subcommittee Support!

Although we have 14 cosponsors now, NOT ONE is from the CRITICAL House Subcommittee on Communications, Internet & Technology! Why is that Subcommittee so important? It is important because that is where the HR 3101 bill is! We MUST get at least ONE person from this subcommittee to support HR 3101.

Today, the National Association of the Deaf posted an Action Alert on HR 3101. This Action Alert asks people in the deaf and hard of hearing community to contact their Representatives, ESPECIALLY those who are members of the House Subcommittee on Communications, Internet & Technology.

The most important people on this subcommittee is the chairman, Rick Boucher, who was the subject of a previous Action Alert. IRONICALLY, Boucher is a cosponsor of another bill that benefits deaf and hard of hearing people, HR 1646, the Hearing Aid Tax Credit. Why not HR 3101 too? Deaf and hard of hearing people need both hearing aids AND captions! Another important person on the committee, because he was interested in the previous failed version of this bill, is Cliff Stearns, who was the subject of another previous Action Alert.

Below is the list of Representatives on this crucial subcommittee, organized by state, from the NAD Action Alert. Contact staff names are hyperlinked, and Caption Action 2 has added important notes about certain Representatives.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Pennsylvania, Your Words Are Steel-Strong

Pennsylvania, you're making progress. So far we have one representative from Pennsylvania who supports HR 3101, Rep. Paul Kanjorski. However, there are still more than a dozen representatives in Pennsylvania who do not yet support HR 3101! Here are their names, and staff contacts, for your convenience in sending emails.

Incidentally, tonight Caption Action 2 on Facebook reached 11,000!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Cosponsor 14 Joins HR 3101!

Caption Action 2 just learned that HR 3101 got its 14th cosponsor.

Let us welcome California Representative Grace Napolitano (D-38)!

Can we get help out there in getting Republicans to join?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Florida, You Need to Make it Hot for These Reps

Florida, particularly south Florida, is home to a large retiree population, which means MANY people have lost or are losing their hearing! The current generation of retirees may not be that into the Internet, but the NEXT generation of retirees will be comfortable with the Internet and as they lose their hearing, they will NEED captions online! So, Florida, do your best to make things HOT for the following Representatives!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

New York State, You've Got a BIG Role to Play

New York State, you've got the third largest number of Representatives in Congress. Already, these New York state area representatives cosponsor HR 3101:
  • Rep. Steve Israel
  • Rep. Edolphus Towns
  • Rep. Maurice Hinchey
We ESPECIALLY need to get Rep. Louise Slaughter to cosponsor HR 3101!! She represents the Rochester, New York area. Rochester has a large deaf population, and Rochester's deaf and hard of hearing community should be working hard to get Louise Slaughter to sign up. Louise Slaughter's Rochester office is at:

3120 Federal Building
100 State Street
Rochester, NY 14614
Phone: (585) 232-4850
Fax: (585) 232-1954

Any Rochester area deaf person can stop by Rep. Slaughter's Rochester office. No appointment needed. Rochester area deaf and hard of hearing can also send direct email to:
John Monsif,

Here is the complete list of contacts for New York state Congressional Representatives:

Friday, October 9, 2009

Two More for HR 3101! We Are Growing!

Caption Action 2 just learned tonight that two new HR3101 cosponsors joined!

Let us welcome Virginia Representative Jim Moran (D-8) and Arizona Representative Raúl Grijalva (D-7).

As mentioned before, we need Republicans to join.

Texas, It's Your Turn Now

Texas has the second largest number of Representatives in Congress. So, deaf and hard of hearing people in Texas have almost as much power as deaf and hard of hearing people in California, to influence the outcome for HR 3101! Below is a list of Representatives in Congress from Texas, with names and email contacts for key staff members:

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

HR 3101 Has Its 11th Cosponsor!

Caption Action 2 just got word from Rep. Markey's office that we have our eleventh cosponsor!

Let us welcome Representative Mike Honda (D) of California!

We need Republican cosponsors, since we have all Democratic cosponsors.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

California Deaf: You Have the Power!

California deaf and hard of hearing people and their family and friends could hold the key to the success or failure of HR 3101. California has the most Representatives (53) in Congress. If you live in California, check the table below for the name of your Representative and a direct email contact for your Representative's office. Send them an email telling them you want them to support HR 3101 and why. Not sure what to say? Check the Letters tag in the tag list and see some example letters.

  • Baca, Joe (Brenda Villaneueva -
  • Becerra, Xavier (Lia Parada -
  • Berman, Howard (Julia Massimino -
  • Bilbray, Brian (Lorissa Bounds -
  • Calvert, Ken (Christopher Marklund -
  • Campbell, John (David Malech -
  • Capps, Lois (Danielle Letendre -
  • Cardoza, Dennis (Marilyn Shapley -
  • Chu, Judy (Allison Rose -
  • Costa, Jim (Monica Carmean -
  • Davis, Susan (Spencer Young -
  • Dreier, David (Alisa Do -
  • Eshoo, Anna (Jill Pender -
  • Farr, Sam (India McKinney -
  • Filner, Bob (Sharon
  • Gallegly, Elton (Richard Mereu -
  • Harman, Jane (Laurie Saroff -
  • Herger, Wally (Darin Thacker -
  • Hunter, Duncan (Joe Kasper -
  • Issa, Darrell (Jason Scism -
  • Lewis, Jerry (Jim Specht -
  • Lofgren, Zoe (Ryan Clough -
  • Lungren, Dan (Kevin Holsclaw -
  • Mack, Mary Bono (Christopher Foster -
  • Mack, Mary Bono (Paul Cancienne -
  • Matsui, Doris (Kyle Victor -
  • McCarthy, Kevin (Rob McCarthy -
  • McClintock, Tom (Kristen Glenn -
  • McKeon, Buck (Chris Perry -
  • McNerney, Jerry (Shilpa Rajan -
  • Miller, Gary (Jessica Baker -
  • Miller, George (Ben Miller -
  • Nunes, Devin (Damon Nelson -
  • Pelosi, Nancy (John Lawrence -
  • Radanovich, George (Chris Herndon -
  • Richardson, Laura (Jeremy Marcus -
  • Rohrabacher, Dana (James Schmidt -
  • Roybal-Allard, Lucille (Victor Castillo -
  • Royce, Edward (Darrin Schrader -
  • Sanchez, Loretta (Ajay Abraham -
  • Schiff, Adam (Phil Tahtakran -
  • Sherman, Brad (Jessica Jensen -
  • Speier, Jackie (Josh Connolly -
  • Thompson, Mike (Jonathan Birdsong -
  • Waters, Maxine (Andrea Martin -
  • Watson, Diane (Abdul Henderson -
  • Waxman, Henry (Patricia Delgado -
  • Woolsey, Lynn (Katie Rodriguez -

If your representative is not listed, that is because he or she already supports HR 3101. Caption Action 2 will remove representatives from this list when they sign up as cosponsors for HR 3101.