Eye on Washington
Keeping Up with New Technology
November 30, 2005 -- Vol. 4, No. 4
By Kelby N. Brick, Esq.
Director, NAD Law and Advocacy
The response from the last column on captioning was very positive. Many of you took action. Kudos to each of you. Those of you who have not-do so now at http://www.nad.org/captioningaction. Your comments showed how important captions are in each of your lives. Thanks to all who wrote. A select few are at the end of this column.
NAD Working on Broadband Bill
The NAD is working hard to pass a law in Congress on broadband. Broadband is high speed Internet. There are many things that we are trying to accomplish that will affect internet acces, relay access and video captioning access. We need your support.
The Telecommunications Act of 1996 was written almost 10 years ago. It is out-of-date. That is why Congress needs to re-write it in 2006. The U.S. House of Representatives has already started. Its Energy and Commerce Committee aims to have a bill by December. The Senate is moving more slowly -- and needs to be told to get going.
What we need right now is public support for key issues in the draft of th ebill that will make telecommunications more accessible.
Ask Yourself these Questions...
Do you use e-mail?
The current law doesn't discuss e-mail. Most people started using e-mail in 1997 or 1998, after the 1996 law.
Do you use Instand Messaging (IM)?
Most people started using IM in 2002 or 2003. (It's true -- it seems as if it's been around forever but it hasn't!)
Do you use a webcam, a video camera, or a video phone to sign to other people?
That's not covered in the law (again, no one was doing it in 1995).
Do you use your computer for relay calls?
The law as revised in 1996 expected you to be using a TTY.
Do you use Video Relay?
That's not covered under the outdated law.
Do you watch any streaming video -- like a video on your computer? Or a short version from a TV show? Some people even get short videos on their cell phones. None of this is captioned. That's perfectly legal now.
Do you feel as if you're paying enough, or even too much, for your services?
Universal service is the key to keeping costs down. Legislation is needed to protect and preserve universal service, especially in rural areas.
Do you want a law to change all that?
We've proposed some changes. The House of Representatives seems to indicate that they will support our proposal.
The House draft would:
* require that video be captioned. It would say that the same rules that now apply to broadcast and cable-cast programming apply to video steaming.
* outlaw "locking you in" and otherwise preventing interoperability of video relay.
* requires companies, as they design new products and services, t take steps to make sure they are accessible. This includes all kinds of communication services, including video, email and IM. So we won't face a future where e-mail "talks" to us instead of showing us text.
Here is How You Can Help! It's Easy!
You need to tell your Senators and Reprensentatives that our proposal is important and must be supported. It'll only take two minutes of your time but is very important to your access to technology.
Just go to http://www.nad.org/BroadbandBillAction and follow instructions.
Don't forget to spread the word.
Onwards and Upwards!
NOTE: Eye on Washington information is a product of the NAD copyright 2005 National Association of the Deaf. This Eye on Washington may be copied, printed, and distributed freely with credit given to the National Association of the Deaf.
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