Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Let's get to work on H.R. 3101

Well, there's another piece of legislation out there that needs our
attention urgently. What is this legislation, you ask? It is H.R. 3101,
the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act. Right now it
only has two co-sponsors, something which is abysmal to me. We all,
including me, need to get it in gear if we want to see this legislation
passed. I ask this question; do we want access to the latest internet-based
technology? I know I do. What type of access would this legislation
provide? Let's look at some of what is in the bill.

Some of the provisions include:
1. Full hearing aid compatibility for all devices such as cell phones and
Internet-based devices. No longer will you have to wait for your spouse to
get something so you can try it to make sure you can use it. I've been
there with my current cell phone and don't want to have to go there again.
2. Restoration of the modest requirements for video description but also
requiring this for digital TV.
3. Screens smaller than 13 in would have to provide closed captioning and
this does include content that migrates to the Internet. Video description
is also included here.
4. Accessible menus and user interfaces for devices. How many things can
you not access due to inaccessible menus?
5. Nonvisual information regarding emergency warnings. No longer would you
have to go get your radio or ask someone what is going on and hope that the
tornado doesn't reach you before knowing what is about to take place.
6. $10 million worth of funding a year for people who are deaf-blind so
that they can get the communications equipment they need in order to access
communications services such as text messaging, TY and/or TRS as well as
face-to-face communications. This contributes to less isolation, more
independence and better chances for employment for starters.
7. Establish a process for the provision of real-time text capability. No
longer would you have to worry about which IM service you use.
8. Clarification of Life-link, Link-up and relay to relay requirements to
make sure they are relevant to our needs.

These ;are just some of the things which are contained in this huge bill.
This version also enjoys some support from industry. Companies such as AT&T
and Verizon do support this legislation. It's a chance we cannot squander.

What do we need to do? We need to contact our Representative, especially
since they will be back in the districts in August, and let them know how
much this legislation means to us. We need to tell our stories and
encourage them to co-sponsor this legislation. We want access now. We
don't want to be left behind. For one thing, I want to be able to make use
of Instant Messaging but now am limited by the technology I currently have
due to the fact that these things don't work across platforms. There is no
standard for these things, something which I believe this legislation will
address. It's a problem which needs to be addressed too.

If we want access, we need to get to work and seek co-sponsors. We have
approximately 129 co-sponsors on pedestrian safety legislation in the House.
Let's work to get that number on H.R. 3101. Over 4400 of us say we want
this legislation passed by signing the COAT petition. Let's put our words
into action by seeking co-sponsors. I plan to do my part. What about you?

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