Congressman Ed Markey introduced the “21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009” bill (H.R. 3101) on June 26, with support from the Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology (COAT), an alliance of deafness and blindness advocacy groups and others who want to ensure content is accessible as TV shows, movies and videos connect via the Internet using new digital and broadband technologies.
The new bill would make closed captioning mandatory for large Internet television and movie distributors, excluding user-based sites such as YouTube. The bill would also lift an outdated standard enforcing closed captioning only on TV sets of 13 inches or greater, opening up captioning to smart phones and other portable devices that display video, according to The New York Daily News.
Additionally, the H.R. 3101 bill also aims to revive a nullified standard on video description for the blind, a technology where a narrator verbally translates a televised scene when there’s no dialogue to follow. A 2002 regulation incorporating video description was dissolved after a court said that the FCC had no right to regulate such a service.
The bill currently has six co-sponsors in Congress, as well as an official endorsement by Verizon and AT&T, and is set to be considered when Congress returns from recess.