Monday, August 31, 2009

Deaf Teacher Blogs About HR3101

Deaf teacher and New York Times author Joseph Rainmound just put out a subtitled vlog related to HR3101, Internet Captioning and HR 3101. What makes this vlog different is that he makes mention of Apple's iTunes University. This provides access to lectures by professors from well-known universities, including those from NASA and other educational features.

He said that out of the nearly 18,000 videos Apple has, only 150 have captions. Out of their 200,000 educational media, only *78* are captioned! Hulu and Fox have way more.

He even emailed them and got the same excuse Netflix gave. "Providing accessible media is tough. The technology isn't available." As he said, and we know this, that the access and the technology is already available. Even Fox, NBC, CBS, and others have proven this with accessible and captioned shows.

It takes many people to make others aware they can make a difference.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Updated: Facebook List of Representatives

Finally it is complete - the list of Representatives on Facebook! Total number of Representatives on Facebook who are not yet cosponsors of HR 3101: 219! That's at least half of the total number of Representatives in Congress! Check out the greatly expanded list. Use these pages to either post a message on the wall, or if it is a personal page, send a private email to your Representative.

Your message or email can be long and detailed, or it can be as short as "I am deaf. I want captions online. Please cosponsor HR 3101."

Update: The Caption Action 2 blogroll has a downloadable spreadsheet of Congress staff contacts. This spreadsheet has a Facebook column.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Meeting Representative Conyers

Remember the now-classic blog post "What.A.Day.Caption Action 2 on Capitol Hill?" That day Jamie had unexpectedly met Representative John Conyers, Jr. (MI). Yesterday the picture was ready for pickup, and here it is!

Jamie Berke, Guide and Leader, Caption Action 2
with Representative John Conyers, Jr. (MI).

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Wall Your Representative on Facebook!

Another possible way for you to reach out and touch your Representative is via Facebook! Some representatives (not all) are on Facebook. Caption Action 2 did the research for you so you don't have to. To be able to post on the Representative's page, you will have to become a "fan." In a few cases, the pages are actually personal pages and you can send messages. See the list below! Members of the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet are indicated with an asterik (*).

When you post your message on your Representative's wall, be sure to mention HR 3101 (they need that number to be able to research the bill) at a minimum. You can also link to Caption Action 2 ( so they can see how many people have already joined. One benefit of posting on your Representative's wall: You never know who might see your message! It could be a hearing person with a deaf or hard of hearing family member. It could be a local newspaper reporter. Your message will help to get the word out in your own community.

List updated 12/10!

  1. Aderholt, Robert
  2. Bright, Bobby
  3. Griffith, Parker

  1. Young, Don
  1. Franks, Trent
  2. Giffords, Gabrielle
  3. Mitchell, Harry
  4. Shadegg, John *

  1. Boozman, John
  2. Ross, Mike

  1. Becerra, Xavier
  2. Berman, Howard
  3. Bilbray, Brian
  4. Calvert, Ken
  5. Campbell, John
  6. Eshoo, Anna *
  7. Farr, Sam
  8. Gallegly, Elton
  9. Hunter, Duncan
  10. Issa, Darrell
  11. Lungren, Dan
  12. Mack, Mary Bono *
  13. Matsui, Doris *
  14. McCarthy, Kevin
  15. McClintock, Tom
  16. McKeon, Buck
  17. McNerney, Jerry *
  18. Nunes, Devin
  19. Radanovich, George *
  20. Sanchez, Loretta
  21. Sherman, Brad
  22. Speier, Jackie
  23. Waters, Maxine
  24. Watson, Diane
  25. Waxman, Henry
  26. Woolsey, Lynn

  1. Coffman, Mike
  2. DeGette, Diana *
  3. Lamborn, Doug
  4. Markey, Betsy
  5. Perlmutter, Ed
  6. Polis, Jared

  1. Larson, John
  2. Murphy, Christopher *

  1. Castle, Mike

  1. Bilirakis, Gus
  2. Brown, Ginny
  3. Buchanan, Vern
  4. Castor, Kathy *
  5. Hastings, Alcee
  6. Kosmas, Suzanne
  7. Mack, Connie
  8. Miller, Jeff
  9. Stearns, Cliff *
  10. Wasserman Schultz, Debbie
  11. Young, C.W. Bill

  1. Broun, Paul
  2. Deal, Nathan *
  3. Johnson, Hank
  4. Price, Tom
  5. Scott, David
  6. Westmoreland, Lynn

  1. Minnick, Walt
  2. Simpson, Mike

  1. Gutierrez, Luis
  2. Hare, Phil
  3. Jackson Jr., Jesse
  4. Manzullo, Donald
  5. Roskam, Peter
  6. Rush, Bobby *
  7. Shimkus, John *

  1. Burton, Dan
  2. Buyer, Steve *
  3. Hill, Baron

  1. Boswell, Leonard
  2. Braley, Bruce
  3. Loebsack, Dave

  1. Jenkins, Lynn

  1. Whitfield, Ed
  2. Yarmuth, John

  1. Alexander, Rodney
  2. Anh, "Joseph" Cao
  3. Cassidy, Bill
  4. Melancon, Charlie *
  5. Scalise, Steve

  1. Bartlett, Roscoe
  2. Edwards, Donna

  1. Camp, Dave
  2. Cheeks Kilpatrick, Carolyn
  3. Dingell, John *
  4. Hoekstra, Pete
  5. Levin, Sandy
  6. Peters, Gary
  7. Rogers, Mike *
  8. Schauer, Mark
  9. Stupak, Bart *
  10. Upton, Fred *

  1. Bachmann, Michele
  2. Ellison, Keith
  3. Oberstar, Jim
  4. Paulson, Erik

  1. Childers, Travis
  2. Harper, Gregg
  3. Thompson, Bennie

  1. Blunt, Roy *
  2. Carnahan, Russ
  1. Rehberg, Denny

  1. Fortenberry, Jeff
  2. Terry, Lee *

New Jersey
  1. Lance, Leonard
  2. LoBiondo, Frank
  3. Sires, Albio

New Mexico
  1. Heinrich, Martin
  2. Lujan, Ben Ray
  3. Teague, Harry

New York
  1. Ackerman, Gary
  2. Arcuri, Mike
  3. Engel, Eliot
  4. Higgins, Brian
  5. Lee, Christopher
  6. Massa, Eric
  7. McMahon, Michael
  8. Nadler, Jerry
  9. Rangel, Charles
  10. Slaughter, Louise
  11. Velazquez, Nydia
  12. Weiner, Anthony *

North Carolina
  1. Butterfield, GK *
  2. Jones, Walter
  3. McHenry, Patrick

  1. Austria, Steve
  2. Boccieri, John
  3. Fudge, Marcia
  4. Jordan, Jim
  5. Kilroy, Mary Jo
  6. Latta, Bob
  7. Space, Zachary *
  8. Turner, Mike
  1. Sullivan, John


  1. Schrader, Kurt
  2. Walden, Greg *
  3. Wu, David

  1. Brady, Robert
  2. Dent, Charlie
  3. Doyle, Mike *
  4. Pitts, Joe
  5. Shuster, Bill

Rhode Island
  1. Langevin, Jim

South Carolina
  1. Barrett, Gresham
  2. Wilson, Joe

South Dakota
  1. Sandlin, Stephanie Herseth

  1. Blackburn, Marsha *
  2. Cooper, Jim
  3. Gordon, Bart
  4. Roe, Phil

  1. Barton, Joe *
  2. Bernice Johnson, Eddie
  3. Brady, Kevin
  4. Burgess, Michael
  5. Carter, John
  6. Conway, Mike
  7. Culberson, John
  8. Green, Gene
  9. Johnson, Sam
  10. Marchant, Kenny
  11. Neugebauer, Randy
  12. Reyes, Silvestre
  13. Smith, Lamar
  14. Thornberry, Mac
U.S. Virgin Islands
  1. Donna Christensen *
  1. Peter Welch
  1. Boucher, Rick
  2. Forbes, Randy
  3. Goodlatte, Bob
  4. Perriello, Tom
  5. Wittman, Robert
  6. Wolf, Frank

  1. Inslee, Jay *
  2. McMorris Rodgers, Cathy
  3. Reichert, Dave

  1. Baldwin, Tammy
  2. Sensenbrenner, Jim

  1. Lummis, Cynthia

Friday, August 21, 2009

500 Days Left to Get HR 3101 to Pass!

We have just 500 days left. That's calendar days, not work days or holidays, so it is actually less than that!

Caption Action 2 is not alone in this battle to get HR 3101 passed, but we are the only ones solely devoted to it. All the other deaf and hard of hearing organizations that are involved in this battle have many other things on their plates and can not spend all of their time on just HR 3101. Even the organization that spearheaded this bill, the Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology, must spend some of its time on other disability access issues.

In addition, September could be a make or break month for HR 3101! Caption Action 2 looked at the history of the previous version of the bill to see when the 15 cosponsors of the previous bill came on board. We found that they all came on board in three months: June, July, and September. After September, no more cosponsors came on board and the bill died.

So we must accomplish several things in September, chief among them being keeping this bill alive so that we have a chance to gain more cosponsors beyond September. How can we do this? Deaf bloggers can help by blogging about the bill. Vloggers can help by doing captioned vlogs - the vlogs must be captioned so we can share the links with hearing people and nonsigning deaf and hard of hearing. We can keep writing and tweeting our Representatives. Contact your local newspapers to ask them to write about the bill. Get more people to join the Facebook cause Caption Action 2 - because in numbers there is strength! The bigger our membership, the more of an impression we can make on Congress!

Plus, the bigger our numbers, the more of an impression we can make on the media. Caption Action 2 has been busy trying to get some media attention for the bill. We have already contacted some local newspapers as well as certain national publications.

Parents and students can help by spreading the word at their schools. Deaf college students' help is especially needed. While it is easy to reach students at Gallaudet, CSUN, NTID, and SWCID, it is not as easy to reach deaf students at other colleges! We need for deaf college students to share this information with each other. Interpreters can help by spreading the word at their interpreting agencies and sharing info with their clients. Caption Action 2 can not do it all alone, we need help. We are just two people at the moment, although we hope to have a third person join us soon!

Join a group in mid-September for a return trip to Capitol Hill to visit Representatives' offices and drop off Caption Action 2 flyers. Contact Jamie Berke at deafness dot guide at about dot com or Robert Goodwin at rsg0910 at yahoo dot com.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Retired Moms and Dads Can Support HR 3101 Too!

Even Jamie's mother is doing her part to help Caption Action 2. Jamie's mother wrote to her own Representative. Here is the letter, and after the letter is the result of Jamie's mother's advocacy for HR 3101!

Dear Congressman [Robert] Wexler,

I realize that the issue of healthcare reform is utmost on your mind at this time nonetheless I am asking you to expand that concept to include the welfare of the deaf community from yet another perspective.

There is a bill in Congress today, The 21st Century Communications & Video Accessibility Act of 2009, HR3101 which is very important to me because I have a deaf daughter. She has asked me to contact you and ask you to co-sponsor that bill.

We all take closed captioning for granted on television today. As a deaf child, Jamie missed much because there was no closed captioning available to us. As an adult she fought for closed captioning on home video.

My daughter, Jamie Berke wishes to have the same rights as the hearing community, which is to understand the streaming videos on the internet. She will be able to do that if you join her and co-sponsor HR3101.

Jamie is the deafness guide on In that capacity she provides much information related to deafness and hearing loss. I invite you to visit her site at As you know, you represent a large constituency of people with hearing problems, especially among the senior generation. If you ever have a question about the hearing impaired, you can be sure to find an answer there.

You can find her fighting for this cause on Facebook as the creator of Caption Action 2 ( where she is establishing a community of people to join her in this battle and to raise funds to make this dream, a reality.

Once again, I beseech you to co-sponsor HR3101.

Thank you for taking the time to consider this request.

Jamie's mother followed up that letter with a call to the Representative's office. Then she called again. This time, she had a response! Eva Dominguez in Wexler's office returned the call and according to Jamie's mom, "was very positive and said she would bring the information directly to Rep. Wexler." In a subsequent follow-up message, Jamie's mom said that Dominguez told her that she would be checking out Caption Action 2 and that she would "definitely" bring up HR 3101 the next session.

Our parents (most deaf people are born to hearing parents) have been advocates for us all of our lives. They have had to advocate for us to have access to things, for interpreters, for enough speech therapy, for hearing aids, for captions, for sign language, and for better education and the right to mainstream or attend a school for the deaf. HR 3101 is just another thing that our parents can advocate for! For those of us who are a certain age, advocating for HR 3101 may be the last thing our parents advocate for on our behalf.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Tweet Your Representative About Captions!

Don't want to write or short of time? Tell your representative - if he/she tweets - in 140 characters or less, that you want captions online! Not all representatives tweet, but many do, and this is another way to reach out and touch your representative to ask for support for HR 3101, the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009. Suggested tweet:

@[representative twitter name] @deafnessguide Please cosponsor HR 3101 so I can have #captions online.

The tiny url is a shortened url for Caption Action 2 on Facebook. This will allow the representative to get an idea of how many people want captions online. Below is a list of known representatives who tweet, and who have not yet signed on to HR 3101, organized by state.

The Caption Action 2 blogroll has a downloadable spreadsheet of Congress staff contacts, and it includes a Twitter column.

American Society for Deaf Children Supports HR3101!

Caption Action 2 recently heard from the ASDC (American Society for Deaf Children) in email.

They said "ASDC will promote through our website, our Endeavor Magazine and our monthly Email Blasts, how our members can help support this bill. We will encourage our members to call and write their local leaders to gain support to this bill. "

Brightcove Now Says CC Button May Be Standard

When Caption Action 2 first checked and reported on the Brightcove media player in Captioning Display is Important, Too, it didn't have the CC button. It does have the capability for subtitles/captions.

Then after an email exchange, we got a response.

"We are hoping to make this a Standard Feature in the future and I have forwarded your comments onto our Development Team."

To repeat what the previous blog post said;

"Why is it so important to get Brightcove to upgrade the standard player to add a standard CC button? It is important because as stated above, having a standard CC button benefits both deaf and hearing people. Plus, if the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009 passes, we do not want the broadcasters to have any excuse to ask for a delay in implementing captioning requirements. Caption Action 2's concern is that broadcasters could use the lack of a CC button on the Brightcove player as an excuse to ask for more time."

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Two More Cosponsors and Dear Colleague...!

Today Caption Action 2 learned that we now have two more cosponsors, for a total of six! Joining Representatives Barbara Lee (CA), Fortney Pete Stark (CA), Steve Israel (NY), and Linda Sanchez (CA) as cosponsors are Representatives Tim Ryan (OH), and Chris Van Hollen (MD)! Many deaf and hard of hearing people live in Maryland so this is very significant that we now have a Representative from Maryland! Last year, the previous version of the bill did not have a single co-sponsor from Maryland.

Plus, today Representative Ed Markey's office sent out its "Dear Colleague" letter to all Representatives, reproduced below!

Ensure Equal Access to the
New Technologies and Innovations of the 21st Century

Co-Sponsor H.R. 3101, the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video
Accessibility Act

August 12, 2009

Dear Colleague:

Over the last decade, we have seen a revolution in the way Americans interact, learn and conduct business. However, the wizardry of the wires and the sophistication of software programs do little for those who cannot affordably access or effectively use them. I recently introduced H.R. 3101, the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, to ensure that all Americans are offered equal access to these exciting and innovative new technologies.

H.R. 3101 would amend the Communications Act to ensure that new Internet-enabled telephone and video services and equipment are accessible to, and usable by, people with disabilities. The bill also closes existing gaps in telecommunications laws. From extending hearing aid compatibility and Internet closed captioning to real-time text support for emergency services, H.R. 3101 seeks to provide a smooth migration to the next-generation of Internet-based and digital communication technologies.

The guiding principle of the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act is to bring existing federal laws requiring communications and video programming accessibility up to date, to fill in any accessibility gaps, and to ensure the full inclusion of people with disabilities in all aspects of daily living through accessible, affordable and usable communication and video programming technologies.H.R. 3101 would:

  • Extend federal law that currently requires hearing aid compatibility (HAC) on newly manufactured and imported telephones to comparable IP-compatible equipment (CPE) used to provide Internet-enabled voice communication service.The purpose of this provision is to ensure that people with hearing loss have access to telephone devices with a built-in speaker (typically held to the ear) used with advanced technologies.

  • Clarify that telecommunications relay services (TRS) are intended to ensure that people who have hearing or speech disabilities can use relay services to engage in functionally equivalent telephone communication with all other people, not just people without a hearing or speech disability

  • Require advanced communications service providers and manufacturers to make their services and equipment accessible to and usable by people with disabilities unless doing so would result in an undue burden

  • Add new measures to improve the accountability and enforcement of these new disability safeguards, including reporting obligations for industry and the FCC, directives for new FCC complaint procedures, and clarification of FCC penalties for non-compliance

  • Direct the FCC to conduct inquiries on a variety of topics, including ways to transmit closed captioning and video description on video programming exhibited on new technologies, including Internet protocol and digital wireless services and equipment; ways to make televised emergency information accessible to people who are blind or visually impaired; and ways to make user interfaces and related on-screen menus or visual indicators on video programming apparatus used for the navigation or selection of video programming accessible.

  • Expand existing closed captioning requirements to video programming apparatus of all sizes and require that such apparatus also deliver video description.

  • Direct the FCC to establish a schedule of deadlines for video described programs. Those rules, originally promulgated in 2001, were struck down by a U.S. Court of Appeals for lack of FCC authority.

  • Require the FCC to issue regulations for video programming providers and owners and multichannel video programming distributors to make their video programming information and selection accessible to people who are unable to read the visual display, so that these individuals can make program selections in real-time.

This bill would not be an economic burden on the industry and consumers, just as similar assertions raised against hearing aid compatibility or against the closed captioning bill I sponsored and successfully battled to make law in 1990 proved to be erroneous. In that debate, we were told that mandating closed captioning was overly burdensome and would cost a fortune. Today, that law is indispensable, and the update this new bill would provide will be equally indispensable.

Current co-sponsors of H.R. 3101 are: Barbara Lee, Linda Sanchez, Stark, Israel, Tim Ryan, Van Hollen

If you have questions or would like to co-sponsor, please have a member of your staff contact Mark Bayer on my staff at 5-2836 or


Edward Markey

Vloggers Wanted!

Are you a vlogger on DeafVideo.TV? Want to see captioning/subtitling on the web? Caption Action 2 can use your help.

We need someone to do a vlog on HR3101. This means we need someone who can do a persuasive vlog and post it on DeafVideo.TV, and add in subtitles.

Contact Robert at rsg0910 at yahoo dot com.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Captioning's Educational Benefits

Over at, Jamie has just published a new article about the educational benefits of captioning for hearing children learning how to read and adults learning English as a Second Language. Jamie wrote this article in the hope that the information will help us to get the education and ESL communities to support HR 3101. In the past, this argument helped to win support for captioning on television, and on home video. It should work for Internet captioning also.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

No More Free Ride for VoIP Services!

It seems that Voice Over IP (VoIP) Services have gotten away with not having to contribute to the Telecommunications Relay Services Fund - the fund that supports our relay services. HR 3101 will change that! Section 103. Relay Services of HR 3101, the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009, has language that would require VoIP services to contribute to the TRS fund like any other telephone service provider. This is important for the deaf and hard of hearing community because it will put regular telephone services and VoIP services on an equal footing with equal responsibility to contribute to that fund, taking away the advantage that VoIP services currently enjoy.

The Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology (COAT) has a position statement on expanding telecommunications relay services obligations to VoIP providers. A key statement in this position statement:
The recent decline in consumer reliance on traditional PSTN-based telephone services, coupled with a spiraling increase in the demand for innovative IP text and video based relay services, threaten to put funding support for relay services in jeopardy.
Caption Action 2 did not know this until now! We cancelled our landline service last year, as have many other people, both deaf and hearing. This lack of an existing requirement for VoIP and cable voice communications providers means that every time someone cancels their traditional telephone service (landline and wireless) and uses VoIP instead, the TRS fund loses another source of needed revenue!

The exact language about this in HR 3101 that would rectify the situation is as follows:

(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: ...

(b) INTERNET PROTOCOL-BASED RELAY SERVICES.—Title VII of such Act is amended by adding at the end the following new section:
Within one year after the date of enactment of the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009, each interconnected VoIP service provider and each provider of non-interconnected VoIP service shall participate in and contribute to the Telecommunications Relay Services Fund established in section 64.404(c)(5)(iii) of the Commission’s regulations (47 C.F.R. 64.404(c)(5)(iii)), as in effect on the date of enactment of such Act, in a manner prescribed by the Commission by regulation to provide for obligations of such providers that are consistent with and comparable to the obligations of other contributors to such Fund.’’.

(CA2 Editor Note: PSTN stands for Public Switched Telephone Network)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Deaf in Other Countries Will Benefit Too

If we can get HR 3101 passed, it is not just deaf and hard of hearing people in the United States who will benefit. Deaf and hard of hearing people in other English-speaking countries will also benefit! That means countries like Canada and Great Britain. While deaf people in other countries can't write to our Congressional Representatives and Senators, they *can* join Caption Action 2 on Facebook, adding to the growing army of people who want captioning on the Internet.

Facebook *is* available outside of the United States. According to Facebook's own Statistics page, "About 70% of Facebook users are outside the United States."

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Caption Action 2 August 2009 Newsletter

It has come to our attention that due to a problem with Facebook Causes email servers, many people did not get the August 2009 Caption Action 2 newsletter. So, we are reprinting it here for the benefit of our Facebook members who did not get it, and also for the benefit of those who are not yet members or not on Facebook:

Caption Action 2 Newsletter: August 2009

Caption Action 2 ( is just a little over a month old, and so much has already happened. Where to start?


Let's start with the cause's growth. Caption Action 2 was started at 3:00 am on June 25, originally just to promote captioning on the Internet. Then on June 26, HR 3101, the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009 was introduced by Representative Ed Markey (MA). Initially, there were only a few members - fewer than 5 people. Today? Thanks to people who want to see the bill pass continuing to spread the word, Caption Action 2 has grown to over 6,500 and is still growing daily! Keep inviting friends to join!


We have been busy blogging about the bill on our blog, In just one month, we have covered a wide variety of topics related to the bill and internet captioning:

* A cable channel's attitude about captioning online
* Just how much content online is not captioned
* Why a similar version of HR 3101 failed last year
* Cosponsoring - getting enough Cosponsors is KEY to getting this bill passed
* Simple English explanation of the captioning parts of the bill

and so much more!


On the blog, we have added a countdown counter in the upper right corner to make it very clear that we have limited time to get this bill passed. The countdown number on the blog is not an accurate reflection of how much time we really have, because it does not take into consideration Congressional breaks, weekends, or holidays. So we actually have less time than whatever the current number is!


On the Facebook cause, we have added a "Daily Update" about the number and also post breaking news (such as when we get a new cosponsor). Breaking news is also reported on the blog.


From the blog's blogroll, you can also download a PDF or a JPG of the Caption Action 2 page, showing the numbers. This PDF or JPG can be printed and posted anywhere you want to spread the word about HR 3101 and Caption Action 2 - e.g., a school program for the deaf, your audiologist's office, at the interpreting office, and so on. You can also make your own poster by taking a screen shot of the Caption Action 2 page.


Many people are helping to recruit members for Caption Action 2! A top 5 list shows that the top person has recruited 50 people. Whenever someone new breaks into the top 5 list, Caption Action 2 sends a thank-you note.


In late July, we made a nonprofit organization, the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), the beneficiary for Caption Action 2. HR 3101 is also known as the "COAT bill" because it was spearheaded by the Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology (COAT, However, COAT is not a nonprofit organization, so donations to COAT must go through AAPD, as explained at When you donate electronically to AAPD through Caption Action 2, AAPD receives a document that shows how much was donated by a particular cause.

You may wonder why any fundraising is necessary at all. It is necessary because getting this bill passed will require the help of lobbyists and there will be other associated costs. For example, suppose Jenifer Simpson, the primary COAT lobbyist, needs to fly from Washington, DC to Los Angeles, California to meet with a key media organization? Your donations can help cover those costs. If we run into serious opposition to the bill, funds may be needed to fight opposition.

It is easy to donate online via Caption Action 2. Just select "Donate" in the link list below the CC picture. Then follow the simple instructions. The minimum is only $10 so even people with limited funds can help.


When we started, the bill had no cosponsors. Then the bill got two cosponsors early in July (Representatives Linda Sanchez (CA) and Barbara Lee (CA)). More recently, the number of cosponsors increased to four when Representatives Steve Israel (NY) and Fortney Pete Stark (CA) both signed on. Unfortunately, that is still far from enough! One reason a similar bill died last year was not enough cosponsors. Out of over 400 Representatives in Congress, the previous version of the bill had only 15 cosponsors. It is critical to keep writing your Representatives to request that they cosponsor the bill, and to your Senators, to request introduction of a similar bill in the Senate. To make it easy for everyone to write, the Caption Action 2 blog's blogroll has "Write your Representative" and "Write your Senator" links.

Congress is not in session for the month of August and does not return until after September 7. Representatives will be back in their home states, where they have offices. This may give you a chance to lobby your own Representative in person. If you do not know where your Representative's office is, check your Representative's website which will be For example, on Representative Markey's website,, the address for his office in Massachusetts is 5 High Street, Suite 101, Medford, MA.


While word is spreading more within the deaf and hard of hearing community (which includes interpreters, teachers of the deaf, audiologists and speech language pathologists, etc.) it has yet to spread much beyond the deaf and hard of hearing community. There has been no mention yet of HR 3101 in any of the mainstream media such as The Washington Post.

We must get the support of people beyond the deaf and hard of hearing community if this bill is going to have a real chance. For instance, we need the support of people such as school teachers of hearing children because children learning to read benefit from captions. Likewise, we need the support of the English as a Second Language community because captions help people learning English as a second language.


If you joined this group, it means you really want this bill to pass. So do we! It is not going to be easy though. It is hard work getting Representatives to cosponsor the bill. There also may be opposition to the bill from certain industries.

Getting this bill passed is essential to putting an end to the never-ending cycle of having to play catch-up and Congress having to legislate access. When not enough people bought television decoders and not enough broadcasters were captioning, Congress stepped in with the Television Decoder Circuitry Act of 1990. That was the bill that required caption decoding circuitry in all televisions with screens 13 inches or larger. It was supposed to generate a big increase in captioning on television.

When that did not happen, Congress had to step in AGAIN, with the Telecommunications Act of 1996. That bill made captioning on television mandatory, with a schedule of increases that broadcasters had to follow. But the Telecommunications Act of 1996 did not anticipate the growth of the Internet, and so that law did not apply to the Internet.

So once again, we are behind as television moves to the web, and having to turn to Congress for help AGAIN to make sure we are not left behind in this fast-changing world. If we don't get this bill passed, the deaf and hard of hearing, and blind children growing up today will not have equal access to the Internet, which is going to play a huge role in their lives.


Lobbying in person on Capitol Hill can be effective. Usually you just meet the staff workers, but you can also get lucky and meet a Representative in person. There are four House buildings on Capitol Hill and as we said, over 400 Representatives. If you live in the Metro Washington, DC area, Caption Action 2 would like to organize a group to go to Capitol Hill in September. The group would visit Representatives' offices and ask for support for HR 3101. If you would like to join this group, email either Jamie Berke or Robert Goodwin on Facebook. The more people we can get, the more Representatives we can lobby!

Think positive...we CAN get this bill passed! We do need everyone's help.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Independent Living Center Writes on HR3101

An interesting letter from the Independent Living Center in Southeast Missouri came to our attention. They are a disability services agency located in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, serving Butler, Carter, Ripley, and Wayne counties.

ILC letter concerning H.R. 3101

Monday, August 3, 2009

People Are Writing and Sharing Letters!

Michael Hill posted his letter to his representative, Phil Gingrey (GA) on Facebook, and gave permission to Caption Action 2 to reprint it here on the blog:

Dear Mr. Phil Gingrey,

I want to share with you a message on behalf of the deaf community. The message stated below:

"I am deaf and the 21st Century Communications & Video Accessibility Act of 2009 (H.R. 3101) is important to me, because it will enable me to understand the streaming videos if they are captioned. May I ask if you will be willing to cosponsor HR3101 - 21st Century Communications Act bill for the benefit of the deaf and hard of hearing citizens?

Thank you very much."

I'm not a Democrat nor a Republican. I'm just an American who believes in the Laws that protect ALL Americans of all ages, race, religion, and all forms of disabilities. I am a voter and I vote a person that can and will do the job to serve me and my community. I am 39 years old and I have been deaf since I was 3 years old. I am also blessed to have a 'voice' by speaking well as a hearing person(like you). I have been blessed to have closed captioning in my country to watch the local news, the national news(CNN, FOX, etc), and the sporting events since Closed Captioning first came out in 1979. It helped me understand the current events and share my discussions with my family and friends whether or not it was in good terms or bad terms.

If you take a moment to understand my point of view with the quoted message above, turn off your speakers on the computer and watch a video from CNN and/or your own introduction video. Is there something wrong there? There's no subtitles or closed captioning. How can I be able to watch videos on the Internet that does not have closed captioning(or subtitles) as much as watching TV that does have the feature inserted since the Law(A.D.A.) was passed back in the early '90s?

Talk to your fellow Congressmen/women, regardless of what Party they are in, and pass this on to the Senate and to the President's desk. I am sure President Obama will sign this Bill into Law to provide the services for all Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing Americans.

A Patriot,
Michael Hill

Comment from Caption Action 2: At, there is a welcome video with a talking head (the introduction video mentioned by Hill). What deaf person can understand that flapping mouth without captions?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Who Needs an $8,000 Telephone?

A deaf-blind person, that's who. Deaf-blind people use special equipment such as a TTY with a Braille display. However, such equipment is expensive and beyond the financial reach of many deaf-blind people. So, HR 3101 includes an allocation of up to $10 million a year to purchase assistive equipment for deaf-blind people.

The exact language can be found under Section 105, Universal Service:

(1) IN GENERAL. — Within 6 months after the date of the enactment of the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009, the Commission shall establish rules that define as eligible for universal service support those programs that are certified by a State commission or approved by the Commission for the distribution of specialized customer premises equipment designed to make telecommunications service, Internet access services, and advanced communications, including interexchange services and advanced telecommunications and information services, accessible by individuals who are deaf-blind.

(3) ANNUAL AMOUNT.—The total amount of universal service support that may be obligated or expended under this subsection for any fiscal year may not exceed $10,000,000.
The Act does not indicate if this amount will be increased to allow for inflation, but perhaps a final bill would contain some language to that effect.