Chairman Rockefeller Attends Signing Ceremony for Communications Accessibility Bill

President signs bill into law – making it easier for people with disabilities to access the Internet, television programming and other communications and video technologies

October 8, 2010

Chairman RockefellerWASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, Senator John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, attended the signing ceremony for the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010. As Chairman, Senator Rockefeller played a key role in shepherding the bill to Senate passage.

“I have worked my entire career to bring the power and the promise of innovative communications technology to every corner of my state. I have seen the opportunity it creates for our communities, for changing education, improving healthcare, and strengthening local businesses – and we have a responsibility to make this opportunity available to everyone,” Chairman Rockefeller said. “Today, we took a big step forward in achieving that goal. This landmark legislation will help ensure that Americans with disabilities have the ability to better utilize 21st century communications technology.”

The Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 updates current law to increase access to Internet, television and telecommunications technologies using such tools as closed captioning and video description. The bill will also help improve delivery of emergency information during a disaster or crisis to ensure that no person with a disability is without the necessary information.

Some examples of how the bill could help Americans with disabilities include:

  • Expanding the range of telephones that are required to be compatible with hearing aids. This means that the hearing-impaired will have greater access to new telephones and mobile devices with functions like access to the Internet.
  • Requiring video description on the most popular television channel and cable channel programming.
  • Updating television closed captioning policies. As more and more television migrates to the Internet, this legislation requires captioned television programs to also be captioned when they are shown over the web. This means that the deaf will be able to enjoy television programming regardless of the distribution medium.
  • Requiring a wide range of communications equipment and devices to be accessible to the deaf and blind. This means that equipment manufacturers of all sorts will need to consider how to make their devices accessible by individuals with disabilities early in the innovation process.
  • Setting up a committee to make recommendations to the Federal Communications Commission about how to facilitate more reliable emergency communications with the disabled community.