Cable Accessibility Deadline this Month

By Tony Stephens, ACB Director of Advocacy and Governmental Affairs

We are just two weeks away from the implementation of federal regulations that will require television and cable hardware to be made accessible to people who are blind and visually impaired. The new final regulation, issued through the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA), will allow for individuals who are blind to freely and independently navigate their televisions and set-top cable boxes through the use of assistive technology integrated into provider networks.

ACB has been in communication with government and industry throughout the regulatory process, and we are pleased that a number of cable providers have already been pushing out accessibility features. However, we will not have a clear sense of the complete cable landscape until after December 20th.

For this reason, ACB encourages members to reach out to their local cable provider’s customer service centers, either via phone, the web, or in person at your local cable office. Tell your provider that you wish to learn more about accessible solutions for your cable subscription, and feel free to forward your own feedback on how providers are meeting their obligations. We often find that the greatest lapse is with lower-level customer service staff, not familiar with their own company’s solutions. The more we are able to track such instances, the greater impact our advocacy in Washington will be toward the successful implementation of this important piece of the CVAA.

Comments and concerns can be forwarded to advocacy@acb.org. To learn more about accessible programming on broadcast and cable television, visit ACB’s Audio Description Project at http://www.acb.org/adp.

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