Monday, March 29, 2010

But What About the Cost?

Recently, Caption Action 2 received an email from a HR 3101 advocate who told CA 2 that when they contacted their Representative, the response was that the Representative was concerned about the cost to caption on the Internet.

Is this a legitimate concern? No, it is not! For an answer, Caption Action 2 turned to Larry Goldberg of WGBH. Why Mr. Goldberg? PBS is captioning quite a bit online, and everyone knows PBS is not exactly rolling in dough. So how is PBS doing it?

Mr. Goldberg's response: "All of the PBS programs which have captions on them on the PBS websites were already captioned for broadcast, so with a little human intervention and a little automation, it doesn’t cost that much at all. I would say the same is probably true for the captions seen on many TV shows on Hulu.com, ABC.com, NBC.com, Fox.com and others."

Human intervention? A little automation? Caption Action 2 requested further clarification from Mr. Goldberg, who replied:

"The automated part is the transformation of the caption files from the broadcast closed-captioning data format into the web timed-text data format.

The human intervention is the possible need to edit the files slightly due to addition or deletion of ads, and thus change the timing.
"

So if you contact your Representative and he or she replies that they are concerned about the potential cost of captioning regular TV on the Internet, you can truthfully tell them that the cost is minimal.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Why Representative Howard Coble Is Not Signing On

Today Caption Action 2 discovered that Representative Howard Coble (R-NC) had signed on to HR 1646, the Hearing Aid Tax Credit. A call was made to his office to ask that he also sign on to HR 3101. The result was a disappointing email, which honestly stated why Coble would not be signing on to HR 3101 at this time.

John Mautz in Coble's office wrote:

"He said that he'd rather not sponsor - it's substantive and he'd rather wait for the committee of jurisdiction to approve it for consideration by the House. "

It was just one sentence. The part about waiting for the Subcommittee to move the bill is no surprise, but the part about "substantive" is new. Substantive means that Coble feels the bill is packed with too much for his office to be able to evaluate at this time.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

HR 301 Now Has 44 Cosponsors!

Caption Action 2 just learned tonight that two new cosponsors signed up on HR 3101!



Let us welcome Representatives Daniel Maffei (NY-25)













and Adam Schiff (CA-29).









Both Representatives are Democrats.

Democrats - 44, Republicans - 0.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Republican Zach Wamp Will Not Cosponsor HR 3101

Today Caption Action 2 got an email from John Frierson, a senior legislative assistant in Representative Zach Wamp (R-Tennessee)'s office. What Frierson had to say, made it apparent that Wamp will not be cosponsoring HR 3101 anytime soon. Frierson did not actually use the words "he will not cosponsor," but Caption Action 2 knows from experience that the language he used is typical Capitol Hill-speak for "fuggedaboutit." Frierson wrote;
We will continue to review the legislation and any changes that are made as bill moves through Congress. I will be sure to follow up with you with any further updates.

Again, it was a pleasure speaking with you, and Mr. Wamp and I are sympathetic to your issue He will keep your views in mind should the bill come up for a vote. I’m glad to see that some in the market place are including the additional resources in their broadcasts and videos that you seek and hope to see this move by companies continue.
When a Representative's office uses the words "will keep your views in mind if the bill comes up for vote" that means the Representative is not going to sign on. So if anyone from Tennessee's third district contacts Wamp's office, that is the kind of response they are going to get! Is there ANY Republican out there who cares enough about the deaf and hard of hearing and blind to sign on to HR 3101 without waiting for the bill to make it out of committee, which it won't if Rick Boucher and Henry Waxman don't move the bill??

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Four Months! Yes, FOUR Months!

Forget what the calendar says! We actually have just FOUR months basically left to get HR 3101 passed! Why: This is an election year for Congress. Every Congressional Representative who wants to keep his or her job, must get re-elected in November if they want to keep working on Capitol Hill. That means that our best chance to get their attention and support for HR 3101 is BEFORE they go on the Summer break (August 9 to September 10).

During the break, they will be focused on winning votes in their communities, AND after returning to work on the Hill in September, still focused on winning votes in their communities. Do you think they are going to be very productive on Capitol Hill? How easy is it going to be to get legislation passed while they are worried about their jobs? Not very!

Another reason for the urgency. Already, several representatives have announced retirements. Others have resigned. This means that if we have to start all over again in the next Congress, we not only have to rebuild our support base of previous cosponsors, we have to work to get the attention of new Representatives. AND, we know we are getting political here but it is a fact - we have been less than successful in getting Republican support. It is expected that many Democratic representatives may lose their jobs to Republicans in the November election. That could make our job even harder.

In recognition of the new reality facing us, we have changed the counter so that it ends on August 9 instead of at the end of the current Congress.

There is one ray of hope. Last week, the Federal Communications Commission expressed de facto support for HR 3101 at the March 10 event "Increasing Access to Broadband for People with Disabilities." Details are on the Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology (COAT) website, and if you prefer to see the video, it is at http://reboot.fcc.gov/live/.

If you have not called or written to your representative, do it now. If you have friends in the deaf or hearing community who don't know about HR 3101, tell them now. Too many people don't know about it. Contact your local newspaper to make them aware of HR 3101. Do whatever it takes!

Friday, March 12, 2010

42nd Cosponsor Joins HR 3101!


Caption Action 2 just learned earlier this afternoon that HR 3101's 42nd cosponsor signed up.

Let us welcome New York State Representative Eliot Engel (D-17)!

Why did Engel sign on? He signed on because of the repeated efforts of his constituent, Sean Gerlis. Sean kept calling, and asking for an appointment with Engel's office. He never got the appointment, but to his pleasant surprise, Engel went ahead and signed on to HR 3101!
Democrats - 42, Republicans - 0.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

HR 3101 Gets Three More Cosponsors!

Caption Action 2 just learned this morning that three more Representatives signed up as HR 3101 cosponsors!


Janice Schakowsky (IL-9) (she came back!)













Mary Jo Kilroy (OH-15)











Alcee Hastings (FL-23)










All are Democrats. We still need Lois Capps (CA-23), Gabrielle Giffords (AZ-8), and Bill Pascrell (NJ-8). They were previous cosponsors of HR 6320.

Democrats - 41, Republicans - 0.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Three Hundred Calendar Days Left!

Take a look at that number to the right, folks. Three hundred! That's how many calendar days we have left until the end of the current session of Congress. It is actually less when you subtract holidays and weekends as well as Congressional session breaks!

So we REALLY have to push now. If we want legal protection against being left out of the vastly expanding world of Internet video. If we want the next generation of deaf and hard of hearing adults not to be left out. It is fantastic that we now have the automatic captions on YouTube (YouTube is proof that internet video can be captioned!), but what about the rest of the commercial Internet? What about national mobile digital television?

Keep contacting your Representatives! Congress.org has a transcript for a video that explains why it is so important that YOU be the one who contacts his or her Representative. If Caption Action 2 contacts a Representative on your behalf, chances are Caption Action 2 will be ignored! Read the three crucial rules for success that are posted by Congress.org in that transcript.

Even if HR 3101 does not pass, we will build a strong foundation for support in Congress, that we can continue to build on. Already we have doubled the size of that foundation this Congress, from the previous Congress. It can take multiple tries to get a bill to pass - which is why we might have to wait until as late as 2025 for legal protection from being left out on the Internet.

What's that? You don't like the idea of having to wait until 2025? You don't like the idea of having to be satisfied with whatever companies voluntarily caption? Then MAKE LOUD NOISE (with apologies to @marleematlin) and CALL or WRITE your representative, and get your friends, families, and even your enemies to do the same!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Capps and Schakowsky, Come Back Already!!

Last session of Congress, two Representatives on the House Energy and Commerce Committee (parent committee of the House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet) were cosponsors of the previous version of HR 3101. These Representatives, Representative Lois Capps (D-CA) and Representative Janice Schakowsky (D-IL) have not come back as cosponsors yet and it has been more than eight months since HR 3101 was introduced by Representative Ed Markey.



Lois Capps




Janice Schakowsky

Caption Action 2 called both Schakowsky's and Capps' offices. At Schakowsky's, the response was "I don't see why there would be a problem with her signing on again." But at Capps' office...well, read on.

Relay: this is congress women louis capps office qq ga
Caption Action 2: hello this is jamie berke is danielle letendre there qga
Relay: ummmm... you know she is actually away from her desk at the moment would you like to lv a vm..qq ga
Caption Action 2: no let me explain why i am calling. im callign because in the previous session of congress lois cosponsored a bill. the bill is back again but she has not come back as a cosponsor yet and it has been more than eight months. ga
Relay: umm okay well I can certainly pass along a msg of support about a certain bill umm if you want to hear back from the congress women on that certain thing I can get your
contact info an we can get back to you if you want me to pass long your thoughts I can do that as well ga
Caption Action 2: is there anyone i can talk to? i would like to find out why she has not returned as a cosponsor yet ga
Relay: umm in order to better help you id at least need to know the name of the bill we can go from there ga
Caption Action 2: the bill number is HR 3101. in the previous session of congress it was known as HR 6320. ga
Relay: okay 3101 ummm sorry hang on a sec........ (typing) umm she is not on the subcommittee shes umm she does support the bill she is not on the subcommittee but when it comes to the full committee she is supportive in general which is a committee she is on she's supportive but she is supportive of it an I can certainly pass long thoughts about becoming a co sponsor ga
Caption Action 2: please do becauase i don't understand it. she was a cosponsor in the previous session of congress. why hasn't she come back as a cosponsor this time? i would like to talk to someone. ga
Relay: okay um im going to put you on hold for a second if that's okay ga
Caption Action 2: sure ga
Relay: I dont have the im not the person who handles this issue an I can pass long thoughtrs an can an will do that if she wants to hear back in a written way I can get contact info if you wanna do that.. but if I feel like were going in circles here.. ga
Caption Action 2: yes we are going in circles. you're front office staff. i want to talk to a legislative aide or director about this. she should have returned as a cosponsor by now! ga
Relay: okay an where are you calling from qq an your name pls q ga
Caption Action 2: im calling from dc and my name is jamie berke. i have been in contact with your office before. is there anyone there i can talk to for a few minutes i want to find out why she
has not returned as a cosponsor. she is not a member of the subcommittee though she is a member of the bigger committee. ga
Relay: the staffer who handles this issue is not available at the moment she is in a meeting.. what I can do I s pass long this msg an will do that.. ummm however I just want
to stress the lack of co sponsorship does not mean lack of support.. so she supports this measure she supported it in the past an continues to do so.. I can put you through to the staff member who handles this her vm if you like but
Caption Action 2: what is the name of this staff member? i will email her directly ga
Relay: Danielle Lependre gaa
Caption Action 2: thank you i have her email address already. what is your name by the way qga
Relay: my name is brenna ga
Caption Action 2: thank you bye now ga or sk

Okay, what is going on here?? It doesn't make any sense. Before, both Schakowsky and Capps were cosponsors of the bill - you can see that by clicking this GovTrack link! Why would Capps' office say that Capps is "supportive" yet Capps has not signed back on to the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act?? Clearly *something* political is going on! Caption Action 2 has no idea what is going on. All we can do is theorize.

One theory: that there is increased opposition to the bill and pressure on Schakowsky and Capps not to cosponsor again, especially since they are members of the parent committee, the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Another theory is that maybe they *want* to cosponsor again, but can't because the chair of the Committee, Henry Waxman, is in the way. Or maybe Rick Boucher is pressuring them not to cosponsor? We don't know anything, all we can do is invent theories.

Will Schakowsky and/or Capps ever come back? We need the public support, in the form of cosponsorship, of *someone* on that Committee or Subcommittee!