Telecom Accessibility Bill 2008
The Internet continues to rapidly change the way we communicate. To assure disabled people have equal access to innovative broadband-based Internet technologies, Representative Ed Markey (D-MA), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications, and Representative Heather Wilson (R-NM) have co-sponsored the new 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, which amends the Communications Act and closes gaps in previous legislation.
Among the provisions of the new bill is an assurance that Internet-enabled telephone and video will be readily accessible for disabled people. These provisions specifically address hearing aid compatibility for Internet-based phones and mandate that these phones be hearing aid compatible.
Other provisions of the bill assure Internet closed-captioning translation into real-time text for emergency services. The bill further clarifies that relay services need to be available for calls among disabled people, rather than communication between disabled and non-disabled people. Regarding video, closed-captioning will be extended to “television-like” Internet programs.
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