Calling All Advocates for Described TV and Web Accessibility!

From Mark Richert, American Foundation for the Blind

This year, July 26 is the 26th anniversary of the signing of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Each year, advocates look for ways in which to properly commemorate the ADA and to celebrate the promise of equal access that it represents. This year, we have a unique opportunity to raise our voices on behalf of equal access, and you are invited to be a part of this nationwide effort.

In an exciting development, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is proposing to expand the number of hours of described television that will be required of the nation’s top networks. It is critical that the FCC hear from as many of us as possible with our expressions of support for their proposal and to help build a strong record showing how important, useful and enjoyable described TV is for our community. Both AFB and ACB will be preparing formal comments to respond to this proposal, but we cannot do this work alone. Our community needs to make it crystal clear to the FCC and to the broadcast and cable/satellite industries as well, that we are committed to seeing described TV become the rule and not the exception.

On a much less happy front, the Obama Administration has determined, yet again, to delay movement on the issuance of regulations clarifying the application of the ADA to online-only places of public accommodation. Most recently, the Administration scuttled a set of proposed federal regulations developed by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) which, once finalized, would have provided even greater clarity about the web accessibility obligations of state and local governments. Now, to try and pick up the pieces, the DOJ is asking advocates yet again to weigh in and share our views on the importance of web access to governmental programs and services.

On Wednesday afternoon, July 13, beginning at 3 p.m. Eastern, you are invited to join a national teleconference jointly hosted by AFB and ACB to learn how you can, with a simple email, let policy makers know exactly how you feel about these two vital issues. While there are important legal and other substantive questions that both AFB and ACB will be providing written comment on for both the FCC and the DOJ, we cannot do this work alone. A strong showing by our community will be decisive in making any progress toward expanded described TV and web accessibility.

For now, please save the date for the July 13 teleconference, and please do pass the word to your personal and professional networks. Additional details, including the dial-in instructions and a brief agenda, will be coming soon. As always, thank you for your commitment to the civil rights of people with disabilities, especially those of us who are blind or visually impaired!

For further information, contact Mark Richert, AFB Director of Public Policy at 202-469-6833 or

Note: When the dial-in information for this call is available, it will be posted to the PCB-l and shared on the PCB Announce Line at 773-572-6314.

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