A Huge Step Forward for People with Disabilities: On the 20th Anniversary of the ADA, the U.S. House is Expected to Pass H.R. 3101

Jul 26, 2010, 17:07 ET from American Foundation for the Blind

Statement from Paul Schroeder, VP, Programs & Policy, American Foundation for the Blind

WASHINGTON, July 26 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, as we commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the landmark civil rights law that revolutionized life for those of us with disabilities, we have even more reason to celebrate.  This evening, the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to pass H.R. 3101, the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act.    

This measure updates our nation's communications laws to ensure that new technologies are accessible to people with disabilities and gives individuals with vision or hearing loss improved access to television programming, smart phones, the Internet, menus on DVD players and cable TV, and more.  Specifically, if signed into law, 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 applaud the U.S. House for their leadership on this legislation, and we are particularly thankful to Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), the original sponsor and champion of H.R. 3101, in addition to Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va), Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), and Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) who played a key role in moving this bipartisan measure forward.  Once passed by the House, we will be looking to the Senate to take up H.R. 3101 and ensure that this life-changing legislation is sent to the President's desk.  

Twenty years ago today when the ADA was signed into law, no one could have predicted the new technologies — from smart phones to the Internet — that now shape our daily lives and work routines.  It is time to make sure that the 25 million Americans with vision loss and the millions more with other disabilities can fully participate in the digital era.  Today marks a huge step forward in making that a reality.

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