Friday, July 16, 2010

Do You Want A Toothless HR 3101? Act Now!

Caption Action 2 was aware that there had been changes made to the "new" HR 3101 that is going to be voted on by the full House Energy and Commerce Committee, any day now. What we did not know, was exactly what changes and how much was changed! In an effort to craft a bill that industry would accept, industry got a lot of what they demanded - with the result that our bill risks becoming toothless.


The Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology (COAT) sent Caption Action 2 the following Action Alert, which we are reprinting in full, along with commentary. If you do not like the changes that were made in the new HR 3101 - act now, because there is NO TIME TO LOSE. There will be a vote ANY DAY NOW.

From: COAT

Subject: Action Alert -- H.R. 3101 Energy and Commerce Committee

Congress Needs to Hear from You

It is time for us to make noise about H.R. 3101. We want H.R. 3101 to be as strong as possible to ensure accessible advanced communications and video programming in the 21st Century.

Industry has been making a lot of noise about H.R. 3101. Industry claims that H.R. 3101 will require all advanced communication and video programming equipment and services to be accessible to every person with every kind of disability. Industry says this requirement will stifle innovation and prevent new technology, products, and services from coming into the market. Even though these claims are not true, Congress has changed H.R. 3101 to address these industry concerns. The new H.R. 3101 (approved by the House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet on June 30, 2010) added several industry protections.

Congress has heard a lot from industry about H.R. 3101.

Now it is time for Congress to hear from us.

Tell members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce:

· Making advanced communication products and services accessible does not stifle innovation; accessibility requires innovation.

· Manufacturers and service providers only need make advanced communications accessible when it is achievable through reasonable effort and expense.

· Restore H.R. 3101 Section 105(b) to ensure funding for specialized communication equipment for people who are deaf-blind.

Caption Action 2: We already knew about this one, and had blogged it previously in the post From $10 million to Zero...for Deaf-Blind People!

· Restore H.R. 3101 Section 107 to ensure all advanced communications, such as mobile Internet browsing functionality, are accessible to and usable by people who are blind or visually impaired.

Caption Action 2: What does the absence of this section mean? We looked at "old" HR 3101 and found that section 107 would have modified the Communications Act to add this language: "Every provider of Internet access service and every manufacturer of Internet access equipment shall, unless it would result in an undue burden, make user interfaces for such service and equipment accessible to individuals with disabilities, including those interfaces used to initiate, monitor, and control such service.". So not having that in the new HR 3101 means that blind and visually impaired people would not be guaranteed access to the internet devices of the future! We are sure that Jesse Acosta, the blinded veteran who testified on Capitol Hill, is NOT a happy camper about this.

· Further inquiries are not needed to determine the use and benefits of video description for people who are blind or visually impaired. Strike the video description inquiries from Section 202.

· Do not prohibit the FCC from increasing video description beyond 7 hours per week on only 9 channels. Strike the limit on video description from Section 202.

Caption Action 2: Does anyone remember the days when we had only a few hours of captioning on television? Saying the FCC can't increase video description for the blind and visually impaired is like telling the deaf that they can't have more captioned programming.

· Do not limit captioning on the Internet to video programming first published or exhibited on television. Strike “first published or exhibited on television” from Section 202(b). Do not leave deaf and hard of hearing people behind as television moves to the Internet, including video programming shown first or exclusively on the Internet and new IPTV services!

Caption Action 2: We are frankly pissed off to learn about this one!! What this means is that with the new HR 3101, we can only expect closed captioning online for television programming that was aired on regular television - but NOT for original Internet-based television programming! With this kind of rule, if Marlee Matlin's "My Deaf Family" was a regularly-aired Internet-only program it would be exempt from having to have closed captions.

· All devices, regardless of size, can and must be capable of displaying closed captions. Strike the achievable standard and waiver authority for closed captions in Section 203.

Caption Action 2: We found language in new HR 3101 that said devices with screens 13 inches or less have to be able to display closed captions only if it is "achievable." This basically opens the door for manufacturers to be able to say "we can't do it" and apply for waivers. It also appears to mean that manufacturers would legally be able to come out with the latest and greatest small cell phones and then claim it was not doable to include closed caption display capability.

Here's what you need to do:

Use the information above to craft your message.

Call or fax the members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee now (list below) and ask them to make H.R. 3101 as strong as possible.

Send e-mail messages through the members’ websites available at

Contact them today!

House Committee on Energy and Commerce
(in alphabetical order by State)

Parker Griffith (R-AL-5)

202-225-4801 Phone
202-225-4392 Fax

Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA-14)

202-225-8104 Phone
202-225-8890 Fax

George Radanovich (R-CA-19)

202-225-4540 Phone
202-225-3402 Fax

Henry Waxman, Chair (D-CA-30)

202-225-3976 Phone
202-225-4099 Fax

Mary Bono Mack (R-CA-45)

202-225-5330 Phone
202-225-2961 Fax

Christopher S. Murphy (D-CT-5)

202-225-4476 Phone
202-225-5933 Fax

Cliff Stearns (R-FL-6)

202-225-5744 Phone
202-225-3973 Fax

John Shimkus (R-IL-19)

202-225-5271 Phone
202-225-5880 Fax

Baron P. Hill (D-IN-9)

202-225-5315 Phone
202-225-6866 Fax

Charlie Melancon (D-LA-3)

202-225-4031 Phone
202-225-3354 Fax

Bart Stupak (D-MI-1)

202-225 4735 Phone
202-225-4744 Fax

Fred Upton (R-MI-6)

202-225-3761 Phone
202-225-4986 Fax

Mike Rogers (R-MI-8)

202-225-4872 Phone
202-225-5820 Fax

Roy Blunt, Deputy Ranking Member (R-MO-7)

202-225-6536 Phone
202-225-5604 Fax

Lee Terry (R-NE-2)

202-225-4155 Phone
202-225-5452 Fax

G. K. Butterfield (D-NC-1)

202-225-3101 Phone
202-225-3354 Fax

Robert E. Latta (R-OH-5)

202-225-6405 Phone
800-278-8203 Fax

Zachary T. Space (D-OH-18)

202-225-6265 Phone
202-225-3394 Fax

Bart Gordon (D-TN-6)

202-225-4231 Phone
202-225-6687 Fax

Marsha Blackburn (R-TN-7)

202-225-2811 Phone
202-225-3002 Fax

Joe Barton, Ranking Member (R-TX-6)

202-225-2002 Phone
202-225-3052 Fax

Rick Boucher (D-VA-9)

202-225-3861 Phone
202-225-0442 Fax

Peter Welch (D-VT-AL)

202-225-4115 Phone
202-225-6790 Fax

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