Wednesday, June 30, 2010

HR3101 Forwarded to Full Committee!

Caption Action 2 just watched the webcast of HR3101's markup. There were some amendments proposed and it has been forwarded to the full committee.

Subcommittee Markup of H.R. 3101, the “Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009

The page also has the video in downloadable format as well as the opening statements and the amendments.

Multichannel News published a detailed news report on the markup.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Moving Forward! Markup Time!

Today the news came in the afternoon: HR 3101 has a markup session tomorrow (June 30, 2010) at 2:00 pm in the House subcommittee! Like the hearing, it is going to be streamed live online with captions. Caption Action 2 will not be attending, but the Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology will be there to represent the interests of the deaf and blind communities.

What is a markup? According to Wikipedia, a markup is a process of amending legislation. Each piece of the bill is read, and subcommittee members can offer amendments (suggested changes). There can be some debate. No changes are actually made to the bill, but they do vote on the suggested changes. Finally, there is a vote to move the bill out of the subcommittee.

Catch the markup - during and after - on the Subcommittee website. If you live in metro DC, you can also go in person - the markup session is being held in Rayburn 2123.

What happens next? As already stated, there is a vote on whether to move the bill out of the subcommittee. If you watch the markup session, you will see the results of that vote, live! Then, the full committee (Energy and Commerce) has to have its own markup session, AND a vote on whether to move the bill to the full House! If and when the bill moves to the full House, that is when the support of cosponsors is going to become very, very important - those cosponsors will be the bill's defenders on the House floor!

HR 3101 is moving forward! We're not home free yet, but we are moving! No word on when there will be a markup for S 3304, the senate version, but that is bound to happen soon too!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Caption Action 2 Is One Year Old!

Caption Action 2 just turned a year old! But, we don't want to grow up!

Starting with just one member early in the morning of June 25, 2009, we have grown to over 14,000 deaf and blind people, family, and friends.

What a year it has been! In one year:

* Support for HR 3101 (also a year old now!) in the House of Representatives was tripled.
* Newspaper reporters took notice, and began to write articles (such as the recently published New York Times article)
* Many bloggers, both deaf and blind, posted blogs and vlogs about HR 3101, and later, S 3304.
* Jamie managed to visit the office of every one of the 435 Representatives in Congress. Jamie even met two Representatives in person, one of whom signed on.
* We have had two hearings, one for HR 3101, and one for S 3304. The previous version of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act didn't even get a hearing!
* We got a Senate version of HR 3101. The previous version of the bill didn't even get a Senate version.

So we have come a long way, baby! But..and this is a huge but..

Time is running out.

Congress is sensitive to events of importance. The upcoming 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act on July 26 is such an event. Passing HR 3101 and S 3304 would make Congress "look good" at a time when the media is likely to be paying more attention to people with disabilities and their issues. Indeed, during the hearings, this upcoming anniversary was frequently mentioned, a sure sign that Congress is most willing to pass our bills prior to July 26.

Lots of other issues are clamoring for Congress' attention. On Capitol Hill, it is the squeaky wheel that gets the grease! So it is very, very, very important that the nation's deaf and hard of hearing, and blind and visually impaired, their families, and their friends, bombard Congress with calls and emails before July 26.

So, let's make that one final effort to show Congress that we want equal access!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Operation PAH Also Means...?

Operation PAH can also stand for Parents, Associates (friends) and Hearing allies. This suggestion comes courtesy of our friends at the National Association of the Deaf. Many if not most of you have already contacted Congress, but what about your families and friends (both hearing and deaf)?

It has been nearly a full year. In fact, in just 2 more days it will be a full year since HR 3101 was introduced! Yes, we have had two hearings in recent months! But, a hearing is not equal to a vote. These bills STILL have not been moved out of subcommittee let alone to the full House or Senate floors!!

The only way this is going to happen is if we put pressure on our representatives and senators. Ask your families and friends (or is it friends and families?) to contact their own representatives and senators. It is easy! Just go to http://www.house.gov for Representatives and plug in the zip code plus 4. For Senators, go to http://www.senate.gov and select the state from the drop down list.

Confirm with your family and friends that they did contact their representatives and senators! Then shoot Caption Action 2 an email (deafness.guide (at) about (dot) com or a tweet (@deafnessguide) to let us know what representative or senators your family or friend called so we can increase the Operation PAH counter!

This is only the beginning of Operation PAH! Caption Action 2 will be at the National Association of the Deaf conference in Philadelphia July 6 to July 11. We won't be at the other conferences and expos this summer..we need YOU to be an ambassador for Caption Action 2 and encourage people you meet at those other conferences and expos, to contact their representatives and senators.

Our workshop at the NAD conference is called "Advocating for the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act." It will be on Thursday, July 8, 1:30-2:30 pm, in Franklin 1.

We've got to make this huge push, NOW. This it, now or never. We are down to the wire. July 26 is the 20th anniversary of the ADA and so Congress is more willing to listen between now and July 26. Congress goes on break on August 2, and after that, it will take a miracle to move these bills! Congress will be too focused on trying to keep their jobs, and in some cases, some of them have already lost their jobs!

Failure is not an option. The future of deaf babies,,,whether they sign, talk, cue, use cochlear implants, or use hearing aids, is at stake. The future of blind children, whether they use braille or voice technology, is at stake. One way or another, we have to, we must, get these bills passed!

Monday, June 21, 2010

New York Times! And Operation PAH Begins!

NEW YORK TIMES!

Today, one of the "big boys" in mainstream media took notice of the need for more captions on the Internet: The New York Times! In his article, "On Web Video, Captions Are Coming Slowly," reporter Brian Stelter turned the spotlight on the current state of captioning online. Stelter does an admirable job of capturing the full picture: he mentions CNN.com (no captions), CBS (no captions at this time), Netflix, YouTube, and even Hulu.
As online video becomes ever more popular, deaf viewers face the prospect of a partly inaccessible Internet.
- Brian Stelter, New York Times
The Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology (COAT) and HR 3101 are not mentioned, but Rosaline Crawford, director of the law and advocacy center for the National Association of the Deaf, is quoted. There is also a very brief mention of the S 3304 hearing.

OPERATION PAH!

With the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act coming up on July 26, the next few weeks are extremely critical for the deaf and blind communities. It is imperative that people call or email their Representatives and Senators. Right now, both HR 3101 and S 3304 are stuck in their respective subcommittees. Until they move out of the subcommittees, there can not be a full vote. Our best chance to get them to move the bills is right now, BEFORE July 26.

To make a real impression on Congress, we need 1,000 calls and emails made to Representatives and Senators. You heard us, 1,000! Caption Action 2 is launching Operation PAH. Why are we calling it Operation PAH? In deaf culture, the ASL idiom "PAH" means "finally, at last, success, or I did it." For the purposes of Operation PAH, the letters P-A-H stand for:

Push
and
Hammer

So get started making those calls and sending those emails to your Representatives and Senators! After you contact your Representative and/or Senator, take a moment and let Caption Action 2 know about it. Send us an email (see the Contact Caption Action 2 on the right side of page) , contact us through Facebook, or send Jamie a reply tweet at @deafnessguide. Tell us whose office you contacted. We will update the counter at the top and side of this page, showing how many calls and emails have been sent to Congress.

Operation PAH GOAL: 1,000!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Advisory Shmisory. Shapiro Can Stuff the Advice!

In both Gary Shapiro's written testimony for the HR 3101 hearing and his Washington Times editorial, Gary Shapiro, president of the Consumer Electronics Association, pushed the inane idea of an advisory committee:

From the written testimony:
As an alternative, CEA has proposed the development of an advisory committee consisting of all affected stakeholders working together to develop industry-led technical solutions for IP-based video programming services and devices. After the advisory committee completes its work and develops suggested solutions, the advisory committee would then determine whether to recommend that the FCC promulgate rules to accomplish the recommended solutions. For any such requirements, the FCC would also be afforded flexibility to exempt certain Internet-based video programming services and devices.
From the Washington Times op-ed:

Dems want to redesign your iPhone
As an alternative to the new mandates, the CEA has proposed the development of an advisory committee consisting of all affected stakeholders working collaboratively to develop industry-led solutions for Internet-protocol-based video programming services and devices. This committee would determine the most feasible technical solutions, and then provide its recommendations to the FCC. This approach would see the government setting the goals, but allow the technology industry to work out the details - using engineers, not lobbyists.
"I propose we make the text bigger and the sound be able to be turned off."

By the time industry was able to implement a committee's "advice," the technology would have already been replaced many times over! Plus, this sounds like Shapiro would prefer to force disabled consumers to wait for retro-fitting of devices. Determine solutions and provide recommendations to the FCC? Make disabled consumers wait for accessibility while the FCC makes decisions, which could take quite awhile at the pace that things happen in Washington?

This concept is the biggest piece of impractical fiction to come from Shapiro and the CEA. It essentially says deaf and blind people are second class citizens who do not deserve accessibility right out of the box, but must be forced to wait!

In a competitive business, it is highly unlikely that Shapiro has "before product launch" in mind with regard to an advisory committee. Does he really expect companies to share proprietary designs with each other in the name of accessibility? We think not! No, he expects us to wait until AFTER product launch, be patient non-complainers, and show appreciation for "voluntary" efforts at accessibility. That is unfair and outright discrimination against deaf and blind people.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Sorry Shapiro, Voluntary Doesn't Work!

Perhaps Gary Shapiro, president of the Consumer Electronics Association, who fervently believes voluntary actions are enough, would like to answer the following questions...

Why is it, Mr. Shapiro, that after Congress passed the television decoder circuitry act, we did not get a substantial voluntary increase in closed captioning? Why is it that for six years, from 1990 to 1996, there was only a small increase in closed captioning?

If "voluntary" efforts had worked, Congress would not have had to pass the Telecommunications Act of 1996. That law made closed captioning on television mandatory.

Shapiro mentions voluntary around 56:40 in the video;

"While we share the goal of providing access to technology to all persons, our experience has taught us that voluntary multi-stakeholder, open, due process standard setting efforts are a better way to go than simply mandating every function of every product be accessible to people with every type of disability. To put it simply, mandating universal design is an innovation killer. Innovation leads to accessibility, not the other way around."
Industry has proven through failures such as what happened from 1990 to 1996, that it can not be relied upon to do the right thing voluntarily.

Want another example of industry failure to do the right thing? Web video has been around since at least 1999. As far back as 1999 we deaf and hard of hearing were being left out of the new world of Internet video.

If voluntary actions were enough, and if industry could be counted on to do the right thing, industry would have held off on launching Internet video until it could have found solutions to have captions on said video. Instead, industry rushed to launch video on the web, and deaf and hard of hearing people and their needs be damned.

One more example. When portable DVD players were introduced to the market, we bought one. Only to discover that it was not capable of displaying closed captions on its seven inch screen.

Another example - when national mobile digital TV services like FloTV and MobiTV launched, there was no captioning.

See Flo TV Super Bowl Ad? Flo TV Doesn't Caption!

Flo TV Can't Commit to Captioning!

MobiTV Does Not Caption Either...

This is what we are trying to put an end to through HR 3101...the CONSTANT rush to "market" or "internet" without taking into consideration that a sizable audience is being left out right from the start! Leaving us out prior to product launch means we are considered second class citizens!

So sorry, Mr. Shapiro, your beloved mantra of "Voluntary is the way to go!" is a big fat lie!!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Boucher a Victim of Misinformation?

Politicians do not write their own speeches. Thus, Representative Rick Boucher, chairperson of the House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet, may have been a victim of misinformation provided by his scriptwriter. During his introduction to the HR 3101 hearing, Boucher made an apparently incorrect statement...

What happened? Between roughly 10:30 and 11:35 on the hearing video (Download or Stream), Boucher talks about the steps that industry is already taking to make services and devices accessible to the hearing and vision impaired. As an example, he cites Disney and CBS as already captioning online. But, one problem with that! CBS does not seem to be captioning online at all!

The text, as seen on the video captions:
We will learn this morning about the steps that industry is already taking to make services and devices accessible by the vision or hearing impaired. For example, my iphone can be made accessible to the visually impaired straight out of the box with the touch of an existing button. With the rapid growth of smart phones, increasing number of Americans can download inexpensive third-party applications that perform functions like text to speech and speech to text. In the video programming arena, an increasing amount of video content is now available on the Internet in a closed captioned format, including the video programming of Disney, CBS, noncommercial station WGBH and videos on YouTube. CBS offers video description of its television programming notwithstanding the absence of any legal requirement that it do so.
Caption Action 2 contacted Boucher's office to make them aware that CBS is not captioning online. Boucher' s office wrote back to say that they would look into it. At the same time, Caption Action 2 double-checked by going to CBS.com and tried to find a captioned video - nothing!! We tried two different browsers, thinking that maybe the captioning button would not display in Firefox but might display in Internet Explorer. Nothing.

If Boucher's office does investigate, and finds that there is indeed no captioning on CBS online, we will have proven a point about the need for HR 3101! Again, we wish to emphasize that Rick Boucher is not to blame for this misinformation; politicians do not write their own speeches. Someone else who did not do their homework properly, wrote that speech for Boucher.


Update: Boucher's office wrote back when questioned about CBS. He was supposed to have said NBC.com.

Friday, June 11, 2010

HR 3101 Gets Cosponsor 52!

52

The dust hasn't quite settled from yesterday's flurry of two new cosponsor announcements. We've got our 52nd cosponsor!

Emerging from the dust comes New York Representative Yvette Clark (D-11).

Democrats - 50, Republicans - 2

We're on a roll! Keep contacting your representatives!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Shapiro's Words Belong Where the Sun Don't Shine

Today at the HR 3101 hearing, the speaker most opposed to the bill was Gary Shapiro (gshapiro@CE.org), the president of the Consumer Electronics Association. Most of the media coverage focused on Shapiro. Although speakers Sergeant Jesse Acosta (American Council of the Blind) and Lise Hamlin (Hearing Loss Association of America) made some powerful statements, they were either barely mentioned or not mentioned at all, by the media.

Mr. Shapiro made so many wrong statements that it would be difficult to address them all in just one blog post. This is the first of a series of blog posts examining - actually, tearing apart - Mr. Shapiro's words. Let's begin with what he said regarding "undue burden," as quoted in Broadcasting and Cable:
These technologies have a shelf life of two or three years at the max and you have to respond quickly. This would put a choke collar on innovation.
Mr. Shapiro, that is actually why we need HR 3101! If technology keeps changing at breakneck speed, without requiring accessibility to be built-in, deaf, hard of hearing, and blind people will be left out again, and again, and again!

A friend who saw that statement by Mr. Shapiro sarcastically told Caption Action 2, "Why build elevators or ramps for handicapped? The building only might be there for 50 years."

Furthermore, requiring accessibility will not stifle innovation. If companies want to make money, they will keep innovating! Did requiring the closed caption decoder chip in all television screens 13 inches or larger stifle innovation in the television industry? We think not!

Oops! No, It is Now 51 Cosponsors!

51


Turns out that Representative Anna Eshoo (D-CA) also just signed on to HR 3101! Since her name has already been added to the bill while Representative Matsui's is still awaiting addition (Matsui announced her support via a press release that was distributed at today's HR 3101 hearing), that means Eshoo is the real 50th cosponsor! Like Matsui, Eshoo is on the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet!

Now we have support from three members of the subcommittee, aside from sponsor Representative Ed Markey!

Democrats - 49 Republicans - 2

We Got Our 50th Cosponsor!

50

That's how many cosponsors we now have!

Caption Action 2 just got the exciting news today! We just had our FIFTIETH, count them, 50th, HR 3101 cosponsor!

It's none other than Representative Doris Matsui (D-CA-5), member of the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet!

Democrats - 48, Republicans - 2

Update: From Matsui's press release;

"As we continue our efforts to expand broadband access to more and more Americans, disabled Americans must not be left behind. Every American - including those who are disabled - requires access to updated technologies for personal use, to compete for a job, and to be able to communicate and work in a sound environment.

"We are seeing a greater need to assist a number of our service members who are returning from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan disabled and are seeing to return to some sense of normalcy. Access to modern technology will help them achieve that.

"Disabled Americans should have access to the same communications products and services that everyone else does.

" I applaud my good friend Congressman Markey for his leadership on providing greater technological access to disabled individuals. His legislation, HR 3101, would help ensure that the disabled are able to fully access and utilize broadband services and video programming devices.

"I plan to add my name today as a cosponsor of this important legislation.

"We must modernize technologies to make certain that disabled Americans are able to enjoy the benefits of an increasingly diverse and innovative menu of applications and services. It is my hope that all stakeholders continue to work together to advance this legislation in an expedited fashion."

Friday, June 4, 2010

SPECIAL BULLETIN: HR 3101 HEARING!

A GIANT STEP FORWARD IS TAKING PLACE! On Thursday, June 10, 2010 there will be a hearing in the House on HR 3101, the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act!

Time: 10:00 am
Place: 2123 Rayburn House Office Building
Online live video captioning: Yes! We do not have the exact URL yet, but it most likely can be accessed via the House Subcommittee Hearings page: http://tinyurl.com/32gtmlr - They will be updating this page soon.

Read more;

CAPTION ACTION 2 SPECIAL BULLETIN: HR 3101 HEARING!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Caption Action 2: June 2010 Newsletter

This is the Caption Action 2 newsletter for June 2010. We have so much this month we hardly know where to begin!

For starters, Caption Action 2 is one year old this month! We began early in the morning of June 25, 2009. So is HR 3101, the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, which was introduced on June 26, 2009!

Read more;

http://apps.facebook.com/causes/posts/465737