Friday, April 9, 2010

Caption Action 2: April 2010 Newsletter

This is the Caption Action 2 newsletter for April 2010 - and this is perhaps the most important newsletter we will ever send out. Why is it so important? It is important because we are fast approaching our make or break time for the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009. We must get this bill passed within the NEXT FEW MONTHS, or we will have to wait until the next Congress in 2011. This is an election year for Congress, and after the summer the Representatives will be very focused on keeping their jobs and it will be very very difficult to get their attention about a bill like ours.


March was a rather productive month for getting cosponsors - we now have 44!

Representative Schiff, Adam

Representative Hastings, Alcee

Representative Schakowsky, Janice (Schakowsky's return as a cosponsor is very important, because she is on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, the parent committee for the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet which has our bill)

New York
Representative Engel, Eliot (see a captioned vlog by Sean Gerlis about how he got Engel to sign on!
Representative Maffei, Daniel

Representative Kilroy, Mary Jo

The current score is 44 Democrats, and ZERO Republicans. If your Representative is a Republican, you must do all you can to get him or her to sign on to HR 3101! Without any Republican support, our bill has little chance to pass!


Put April 15 on your calendar, be it an old-fashioned paper calendar or an Outlook calendar! On that day, deaf and hard of hearing people nationwide will be calling and emailing their Representatives to ask for support for HR 3101. The National Association of the Deaf, the organizer of HR 3101 Virtual Legislative Day, has a captioned and signed video blog about this, featuring Leah Katz-Hernandez, who has also testified at Federal Communications Commission hearings on broadband access for people with disabilities. Watch Leah at!

Plus, on Facebook, sign up to join the April 15 Legislative Day at! Our Representatives need to hear from A LOT of us AT ONCE in order to get the message that this is truly a very important bill - we need it to guarantee ourselves and our deaf, hard of hearing, and blind children an accessible future on the Internet! Tell your friends, and family about April 15! Spread the word to the blind and visually impaired community, too!

A NAD membership is not required to take part in the Virtual Legislative Day. All that's needed is to know your representative's name and phone number. Then call, email, or fax them.

Kids can call their Representatives, too! Especially teenagers - the future voters.

You can help spread the word on Facebook by posting something like this in your status:

Join HR 3101 Legislative Day on April 15! See blog at and sign up at!

What else can you do on April 15? You can contact your local newspaper to tell them about HR 3101! Media coverage is the only way to get the word out to deaf and hard of hearing, and blind, people who are not aware of HR 3101.


One of the most exciting things that happened for the deaf and hard of hearing and blind community in March was that the FCC released the National Broadband Plan! Chapter 9 of the Plan addresses access for people with disabilities, and it is largely based on HR 3101. You can download the Chapter at in Adobe PDF. Page four is very important because it states: "Congress, the FCC and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) should consider modernizing accessibility laws, rules and related subsidy programs."

Also important is page 5, which states: "Internet-based video programming does not have captions or video descriptions offering an account of what is on the screen."

But that is not all! Both the FCC Chairman and Commissioner have openly stated support for HR 3101 in public statements. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski mentioned HR 3101 in his statement at a March 10 National Broadband Plan and Accessibility for People with Disabilities event. You can read Genachowski's statement at, and here is a direct quote:

"Third, the plan will recommend that the FCC, Congress, and the Justice Department update our accessibility laws and policies - and ensure that they are enforced. I believe that legislation introduced by Congressman Ed Markey (D-MA) - the "21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act" (H.R. 3101) - should be a starting point for legislative discussions to achieve many of these updates."

Next, FCC Commissioner Michael Copps mentioned HR 3101 at a March 9 America's Digital Inclusion Summit. You can read that statement at, and here is a direct quote from his introduction of Representative Edward Markey,the sponsor of our bill:

"In the current Congress, he has introduced the "Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act" (HR 3101) to help ensure that as technology changes, our nation's commitment to ensuring access for all keeps pace."


Before Janice Schakowsky signed back on to HR 3101, Caption Action 2 had blogged about both her and Lois Capps, who still has not returned as a cosponsor. In the blog post Capps and Schakowsky, Come Back Already!! CA 2 shared a telephone relay conversation with Capps' office:

Unfortunately, during March, we learned reasons why two representatives would not sign on: Zach Wamp ( and Howard Coble (

As the month drew to a close, we learned that some representatives were raising objections about the potential cost of captioning on the Internet. So we turned to a very reliable source for answers:

We also made improvements to the usability of one of our most important spreadsheets - the Us Too excel spreadsheet! This spreadsheet shows which of three bills related to deafness and hearing loss Congress representatives are supporting. We added colors: Red for HR 1646, Blue for HR 3024, and Green for HR 3101. Now it is easier to see at a glance if your reprsentative already supports other bills but does not support HR 3101. A phone number column has also been added to further improve usability. Download this crucial tool at


Just before the April newsletter "went to press," the Yuma Sun published an article about HR 3101: This article mentions both Caption Action 2, and Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA is a COAT affiliate).


This newsletter would not be complete without the usual COAT update! COAT now has around 300 affiliates (see, including a growing number of captioning service providers! The only states that do not have COAT affiliates yet are Idaho and Wyoming!

In March, the National Organization on Disability stated its support for COAT and HR 3101 in a statement, which you can read at

Caption Action 2 noticed that the National Federation of the Blind was not a COAT member, and contacted NFB. NFB informed Caption Action 2 that while NFB does not wish to become a COAT member at this time, the NFB does endorse HR 3101.


Representative Grijalva, Raul

Representative Berman, Howard
Representative Filner, Bob
Representative Lee, Barbara
Representative Napolitano, Grace
Representative Sanchez, Linda
Representative Schiff, Adam
Representative Stark, Fortney Pete

District of Columbia:
Representative Norton, Eleanor Holmes

Representative Hastings, Alcee

Representative Lewis, John

Representative Bordallo, Madeline

Representative Schakowsky, Janice

Representative Carson, Andre

Representative Moore, Dennis

Representative Chandler, Ben

Reprsentatative Pingree, Chellie

Representative Van Hollen, Chris

Representative Capuano, Michael
Representative McGovern, Jim
Representative Neal, Richard
Representative Olver, John
Representative Tierney, John

Representative McCollum, Betty
Representative Peterson, Collin

Representative Cleaver, Emmanuel

New Jersey
Representative Payne, Donald
Representative Rothman, Stephen

New York:
Representative Engel, Eliot
Representative Hinchey, Maurice
Representative Israel, Steve
Representative Maffei, Daniel
Representative Maloney, Carolyn
Representative Slaughter, Louise
Representative Towns, Edolphus

Representative Kilroy, Mary Jo
Representative Ryan, Tim

Representative Blumenauer, Earl

Representative Kanjorski, Paul

Representative Davis, Lincoln

Representative Doggett, Lloyd

Representative Moran, Jim

Join Caption Action 2!

Help ensure that the new Facebook Twilight Series has captions, and help get Starz to caption its YouTube channel! Join Caption Action 2 on Facebook,!

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