Yesterday H.R.3101, The Twenty-First-Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009 was reported favorably out of subcommittee and will be taken up by the full committee on Energy and Commerce in the next two weeks.
Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Boucher (D-VA) introduced a new draft of 3101 which more accurately shows the on-going negotiations we have had and continue to have with industry and committee staff. There are, however, two aspects of this draft that are absolutely unacceptable to ACB and naturally the COAT steering committee.
Sec. 105 of the original bill has been removed completely.
This section granted authority to the FCC to designate as eligible for universal service support, programs for the distribution of specialized equipment used to make telecommunications, Internet access services and advanced communications accessible to individuals
who are deaf-blind. Such support is capped at $10 million per year.
Having this provision struck from the legislation is crazy! A list of the full committee membership is below. I urge you to contact these offices to let them know that this population of individuals cannot be left even further behind as technology continues its rapid pace forward. Furthermore, $10 million in congressional terms is next to nothing but could do a world of good for individuals who are forced to pay extremely high prices for assistive technology in order to simply communicate with one another.
I am pleased to report that the 2000 requirements for video description are in the new legislation. However, the authority to broaden the amount and geographic location of described content has been completely taken away from the Federal Communications Commission. If this legislation were to pass tomorrow, only individuals living in the top 25 designated market areas would be able to enjoy described content. Those lucky individuals living in the top 25 markets would only be able to get a few hours of content per week.
In essence, as it is written now, the legislation would deny access to people who are blind or visually impaired in the majority of this country.
Please call the members of the committee and let them know that in each of their districts they are impacted by a designated market area outside of the top 25. How can they allow some of their constituents to have video description and others to be left in the cold? Furthermore, there are several committee members who are completely out of the top 25 altogether.
The list of committee members also shows the designated market areas that coincide with their congressional districts.
Finally, It appears that at the time of this writing that both H.R.3101 and S.3304 will both be marked up in full committee during the ACB Conference and Convention. Please call the members below to voice your concerns. To be clear, the changes above only reflect H.R.3101. Negotiations with the Senate are on-going. While these changes may make us feel uneasy, the legislative process is moving forward and ACB affiliates and members should be proud of the passionate and highly effective advocacy that has been displayed. Please keep it up! We still have a critical roll to play in advocating for our provisions.
House Energy and Commerce Committee
Rick Boucher (D-VA-9) 202-225-3861
Tri-Cities (93) & Bluefield-Beckley-Oak Hill (156) & Roanoke-Lynchburg (67) & Greensboro (46)
Bart Gordon (D-TN-6) 202-225-4231
Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA-14) 202-225-8104
San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose (6) & Monteray-Salinas (124)
Bart Stupak (D-MI-1) 202-225 4735
Duluth-Superior (139) & Marquette (180) & Green Bay (70) & Traverse City-Cadillac (117) & Alpena (208)
G. K. Butterfield (D-NC-1) 202-225-3101
Greenville-New Bern (103) & Raleigh (26) & Norfolk-Newport News (43)
Charlie Melancon (D-LA-3) 202-225-4031
Lafayette (123) & New Orleans (51) & Baton Rouge (95)
Baron P. Hill (D-IN-9) 202-225-5315
Evansville (102) & Indianapolis (25) & Cincinnati (33) & Louisville (49)
Christopher S. Murphy (D-CT-5) 202-225-4476
Hartford-New Haven (30) & New York (1)
Zachary T. Space (D-OH-18) 202-225-6265
Columbus (34) & Cleveland-Akron (18) & Wheeling-Steubenville (159) & Charleston-Huntington (63)
Peter Welch (D-VT-AL) 202-225-4115
Burlington-Plattsburg (94) & Boston (6) & Albany Schenectady (57)
Cliff Stearns (R-FL-6) 202-225-5744
Jacksonville (47) & Gainesville (160) & Orlando (19)
Fred Upton (R-MI-6) 202-225-3761
Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo (41) & South Bend-Elkart (91)
John Shimkus (R-IL-19) 202-225-5271
Champaign-Springfield-Decatur (84) & St. Louis (21) & Terre Haute (152) & Cape Girardeau (78) & Evansville (102)
Roy Blunt, Deputy Ranking Member (R-MO-7) 202-225-6536
Joplin-Pittsburgh (147) & Springfield (74)
George Radanovich (R-CA19) 202.225.4540
Mary Bono Mack (R-CA-45) 202-225-5330
Los Angeles (2) & Palm Springs (142)
Lee Terry (R-NE-2) 202-225-4155
Mike Rogers (R-MI-8) 202-225-4872
Flint-Saginaw-Bay City (68) & Detroit (11) & Lansing (115)
Marsha Blackburn (R-TN-7) 202-225-2811
Memphis (50) & Jackson (173) & Nashville (29)
Parker Griffith (R-AL-5) 202-225-4801
Robert E. Latta (R-OH-5) 202-225-6405
Columbus (34) & Toledo (73) & Cleveland (18) & Dayton (65)
Joe Barton, Ranking Member (R-TX-6) 202-225-2002
Houston (10) & Dallas-Fort Worth (5) & Waco (89) & Tyler-Longview (109)
Director of Advocacy and Governmental Affairs
American Council of the Blind
2200 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 650
Arlington, VA 22201