by Melanie Brunson

On July 26, Eric Bridges, ACB's Director of Advocacy and Governmental Affairs, posted the following message to our Leadership list.

On the 20th anniversary of the signing of the ADA, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 3101, The Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act. The bill passed by a 348-23 vote. This represents resounding bipartisan support. ACB as a steering committee member of the Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology (COAT) wishes to express its sincere appreciation for the tireless advocacy of Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) through this long and difficult process. The blind and deaf-blind communities have a staunch advocate in Rep. Markey.

It is also quite appropriate to express our thanks to the Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), for the critical role he played in working with COAT and the Republicans on his committee so that 3101 could be bipartisan. Thank you also to the ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Joe Barton (R-Tex.) and Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) for their willingness to work in a bipartisan way. As many of you know, bipartisanship in Congress is a very rare occurrence these days.

So now we have two bills in the Senate. The goal is to have the Senate pass H.R. 3101 because it is a stronger, more consumer-focused bill than S. 3304.

I will also add that Eric was in the House gallery to witness the vote, and it was definitely an exciting milestone that followed many hours of hard work that has occurred during all hours of the day over the past couple of years. However, as Eric's comments indicated, there is still work to do in the Senate. We will keep you posted as the bill moves through that chamber. For those of you who want the latest updates, but don't want to wait for the next issue of "The Braille Forum," feel free to call the Washington Connection at 1-800-424-8666. We will keep our legislative messages updated as events on Capitol Hill warrant it, and you can listen to them any time during evenings and weekends, or weekdays before 2 p.m. Eastern time. We will, of course, report on any new developments in future issues of this magazine as well.

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