Within the wake of the midterm elections, Democratic leaders within the Home and Senate have launched a invoice crafted to make sure rising applied sciences preserve tempo with the wants of individuals with disabilities. The hassle is receiving widespread reward from teams such because the Blinded Veterans Affiliation and Communications Service for the Deaf, and lawmakers are pushing for a swift passage within the lame duck session.
The Communications, Video, and Know-how Accessibility Act, or CVTA, would amend key parts of the present federal accessibility legislation by, amongst different measures, requiring the development and growth of closed captioning and audio description requirements for on-line streaming platforms (along with tv), the authors stated. It might additionally replace necessities to make closed captioning and audio descriptions extra simply accessible.
The invoice, coauthored by Sen. Edward Markey, would additional assist to enhance entry to video programming for people who find themselves deaf and use signal language, and, in accordance with the authors, would empower the Federal Communications Fee to “guarantee accessibility laws preserve tempo with emergencing applied sciences, together with synthetic intelligence and augmented or digital actuality platforms.”
“As know-how has quickly developed over the past 20 years, a lot of our economic system and day-to-day lives have moved on-line. Sadly, accessibility requirements have stayed largely the identical, leaving folks with disabilities behind,” stated Rep. Anna Eshoo, senior member of the Home Vitality and Commerce Committee and a co-author of the invoice.
Eshoo acknowledged that, as of final 12 months, greater than two-thirds of people that had been blind or had low imaginative and prescient reported points with applied sciences needed for the roles. And round 70% of scholars who’re deaf or arduous of listening to reported related challenges in academic environments, she stated.
Sen. Markey, a coauthor of the current federal law — known as the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) — said technologies had changed much since CVAA’s passage. “What hasn’t changed is our obligation to make sure that everyone – including people with disabilities – has equal access to the services and technologies they need to thrive,” he said.
The newer CVTA, meanwhile, was announced with the endorsement of FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, who said in statement:
“Accessibility means equal opportunity to create, participate, and communicate—and promoting accessible technology is an important part of our agency’s mission. To do so effectively we need to keep up with emerging technologies. This legislation will help us do just that, by ensuring that people with disabilities have full access to communication products and services that are necessary to participate equally in today’s world, while laying a foundation for accessibility in future technologies.”
Eric Bridges, executive director of the American Council of the Blind, said the CVAA had “laid the foundation for accessible technology and inclusive media for people who are blind, low vision, and Deafblind,” and this update would ensure that critical communications technologies remain accessible and “reiterate our nation’s commitment to accessible media and video content, regardless of how or where it is viewed by consumers.”
“This update to the groundbreaking 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act takes into account how rapidly technology is changing,” added Barbara Kelley, executive director of Hearing Loss Association for America (HLAA). The CVTA would, she said, “ensure people will have access to video conferencing platforms with built-in accessibility features, such as automatic captioning functions that will allow people with hearing loss to be fully part of the conversation.”
“That’s real progress,” Kelley said.
Numerous other groups focused on accessibility have endorsed the bill, include the National Federation of the Blind, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the American Foundation for the Blind, and the United Spinal Association, among others.