Senator Reed Announces $4 Million for RI Community Health Centers at CCAP Health Center in Cranston, RI.
October 13, 2011
Reed Announces Passage of the 21st Century Communications & Video Accessibility Act at Rhode Island School for the Deaf
PROVIDENCE, RI - U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) today joined students at the Rhode Island School for the Deaf, along with representatives from the State of Rhode Island Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing; The National Federation of the Blind of Rhode Island; and the Hearing Loss Association of America Rhode Island Chapter to announce new federal rules that will help make high-tech communications equipment more accessible to people with visual and hearing impairments.
The 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, which President Obama recently signed into law, sets new federal guidelines for the telecommunications industry, mandating that manufacturers make their products “accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities” through secondary devices, software, or hardware. Specifically, the bill will help ensure TV programs shown online have closed captioning features and audible descriptions of on-screen action. Also, new TV remote controls will come equipped with buttons that easily turn on captions.
The new law also requires Internet telephone equipment to be compatible with hearing aids, and ensures that video programming devices such as MP3 players and digital video recorders be capable of closed captioning, video description, and emergency alerts.
“Technology is a part of daily life, and this bill is about making sure that the latest technology is accessible to all users,” said U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), who supported the measure in the Senate. “I was pleased to support this bill, which will make it easier for the visually impaired and people with hearing loss to use computers, televisions, smart phones, and other new technology. And it will strengthen standards for all consumers.”
The bill also sets up a $10 million annual fund to help low-income Americans who are deaf or blind purchase technology that helps them access the Internet and other communication devices.
“This is a very significant milestone since the American Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) because the ADA does not apply to the Internet and it does not help certain groups like the deaf-blind. We never dreamed of how advanced technology would become in 20 years. Without the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010, more than 90,000 deaf, hard of hearing, late deafened, and deaf-blind in Rhode Island, would return back to the Dark Information Age because of greater inaccessibility in the internet, the video and telecommunication technologies that are clearly progressive and striving that are always part of our lives, education, jobs and lifestyles,” said Steven Florio, Executive Director of State of Rhode Island Commission on the Deaf & Hard of Hearing.
“This bill will bring better access to technology for blind and visually impaired people that has become an essential part of life for almost everyone. We will be able to use our televisions, cell phones, computers, and other equipment without guess work,” said Richard Gaffney, President of the National Federation of the Blind of Rhode Island. “Now we will be made aware of any visual information and action on television screens. With the majority of blind people on fixed incomes, the most important part is the money appropriated in this legislation. Ten million dollars should help significantly in getting this technology in the hands of blind individuals.”
This legislation will help thousands of Rhode Islanders who are either visually or hearing impaired.
The bill was signed into law by President Obama on Friday, October 8, 2010.
Senator Reed visits the staff & facility of Herff Jones Warwick Facility .
October 4, 2010.
Senator Reed gives remarks at Ferolbink Farm event.
September 10, 2010
Senator Reed attends a Crossroads Rhode Island groundbreaking.
August 27, 2010
Images of the flooding damage across Rhode Island in March 2010.
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