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 (http://www.causes.com/captionaction2) 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, http://captionaction2.blogspot.com. 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, http://www.coataccess.org). However, COAT is not a nonprofit organization, so donations to COAT must go through AAPD, as explained at http://www.coataccess.org/donate_now. 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.
GETTING MORE COSPONSORS
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 lastname.house.gov. For example, on Representative Markey's website, markey.house.gov, the address for his office in Massachusetts is 5 High Street, Suite 101, Medford, MA.
REACHING OUT BEYOND DEAF AND HARD OF HEARING
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.
IT IS NOT GOING TO BE EASY
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 ON CAPITOL HILL
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.