RESOLUTION 2010-03

H.R. 3101
AMERICAN COUNCIL OF THE BLIND
RESOLUTION 2010-03

SUMMARY: This resolution primarily deals with the 21st Century Telecommunications Act legislation. It asks that this organization express to the House Energy and Commerce Committee our deep disappointment on the recent subcommittee action. This resolution emphatically implores Congress to honor the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act by enacting the strongest possible legislation that would ensure that people with vision loss as well as those people who are deaf-blind would not continue to be excluded from the technology and the video revolution. Lastly, this resolution requests that such legislation appropriate non-discretionary funding for equipment that is used by people who are deaf-blind, clear and continuing authority by the FCC to require video description throughout the nation and the strongest possible legal guarantees that the user interfaces of devices, particularly mobile devices, allow people with vision loss to connect and interact with the Internet.

WHEREAS, the transmission and reception of text data and web browsing with wireless and other telecommunications devices has become a primary means of communication used in commerce, education, the workplace, and social networking environment; and

WHEREAS, failure to promptly address the need for audible and other access to such text data-related communication in federal law will cause irreparable harm to the equal and full participation of people with vision loss in school, work and community; and

WHEREAS, people who are deaf-blind rely on expensive technology to enable them to engage in even the most rudimentary communication; and

WHEREAS, well-funded consumer electronics and wireless industry lobbyists have been waging a campaign of fear-mongering and misinformation about the purposes and provisions of H.R. 3101 which, if successful, would completely eviscerate the legislation; and

WHEREAS, on June 30, 2010, the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet of the Energy and Commerce Committee adopted a sweeping amendment to H.R. 3101, the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, and

WHEREAS, H.R. 3101, as introduced by Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA), is landmark legislation intended to ensure that people with disabilities, especially those with visual and hearing disabilities, are not excluded as new Internet-related and other digital and video technologies proliferate; and

WHEREAS, the Subcommittee-passed amendment to H.R. 3101 fails to address three essential needs faced by the vision loss and deaf-blindness communities, specifically:

1. The removes all provisions of H.R. 3101 that would have authorized up to $10 million in Universal Service Funds to underwrite the purchase of equipment used by people who are deaf-blind to access telephone communications;

2. Video description would only be required in the top 25 markets, thus excluding the majority of Americans who are blind or visually impaired from receiving such services and the Federal Communications Commission would be prohibited from requiring that more than seven hours per week of audio-described programming be provided even in these markets;

3. The amendment deletes all provisions of H.R. 3101 that would have ensured that the interface of devices, particularly mobile devices, that allow connection to and use of the Internet are accessible to and usable by people who are blind or visually impaired; and

WHEREAS, the American Council of the Blind has endorsed H.R. 3101 as introduced;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the American Council of the Blind in convention assembled at the Downtown Sheraton Hotel in Phoenix, Ariz., on the 14th day of July, 2010, that this organization express to the members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee our deep disappointment with the recent subcommittee action; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization emphatically implore Congress to honor the twentieth anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act by enacting the strongest possible legislation guaranteeing that people with disabilities, especially vision loss and deaf-blindness, do not continue to be excluded from the technology and video programming revolution; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that such legislation must include appropriate provision of non-discretionary funding for equipment used by people who are deaf-blind, clear and continuing FCC authority to require video description throughout the nation, and the strongest possible legal guarantees that the user interfaces of devices, particularly mobile devices, allow people with vision loss to connect and interact with the Internet.

Adopted.

Marlaina Lieberg, Secretary