House Passes Access to Communications Act

Updates Telecommunications Act disability access provisions for the digital age
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On the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the House Monday passed the Twenty-first Century Communications
and Video Accessibility Act (HR 3101), which updates the Telecommunications Act disability access provisions for the digital
age. The vote was 348 to 23, and presided over by Rep. Jim Langevin, the first quadreplegic elected to the House, who presided
over the House for passage of that and other bills Monday afternoon after the speaker's rostrum was made wheelchair accessible.

Among other things, the bill requires the captioning of any online video that is closed captioned on TV, and asks the FCC to
study captioning of Web-original video. It also requires smart phones and other mobile devices to be accessible to the
disabled, if that is achievable, and restores the FCC's video description rules thrown out by the courts in 2002.

The bill was appoved by the House Energy & Commerce committee and was backed by cable operators (though with hopes for a few
tweaks) and by consumer electronics firms, both sign-offs came after changes were made to give industry more flexibility in
impelementing the changes, and more input on standards.

A Senate version has passed the Commerce Committee.

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