Statement from Paul Schroeder, Vice President, Programs & Policy, American Foundation for the Blind
WASHINGTON, July 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --Today, less than a week away from the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the House Energy & Commerce Committee approved H.R. 3101. This measure, also known as the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, updates our nation's communications laws to ensure that new technologies are accessible to people with disabilities.
In addition to Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), the original sponsor and champion of this legislation, we applaud Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.), Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), and Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) for leading this bipartisan effort. Once signed into law, this legislation will dramatically improve the lives of the more than 25 million Americans with vision loss by ensuring expanded access to the technologies of the 21st century, including television, the Internet, and smart phones.
H.R. 3101 will:
- Restore and expand requirements for video description of television programs, in addition to requiring cable companies to make their program guides and selection menus accessible to people with vision loss.
- Mandate mobile phone companies to make web browsers, text messaging, and e-mail on smart phones fully accessible.
- Ensure people with vision loss have access to emergency broadcast information.
- Provide $10 million in funding each year for assistive technology for deaf-blind individuals.
We expect the House to take up the bill next Monday on the 20th anniversary of the ADA. This will be a fitting commemoration of this landmark law—often called the Emancipation Proclamation for people with disabilities. Once passed, we will implore the Senate to promptly pass H.R. 3101.
The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) is a national nonprofit that expands possibilities for people with vision loss. AFB's priorities include broadening access to technology; elevating the quality of information and tools for the professionals who serve people with vision loss; and promoting independent and healthy living for people with vision loss by providing them and their families with relevant and timely resources. AFB is also proud to house the Helen Keller Archives and honor the more than forty years that Helen Keller worked tirelessly with AFB. For more information visit us online at www.afb.org.
SOURCE American Foundation for the Blind