Markey Celebrates First-Year Milestone for Making 21st Century Tech Accessible to All


Date: Oct. 7, 2011
Location: Washington, DC

Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and former chairman of the Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, today commended the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for issuing regulations implementing the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA), which was signed into law by President Obama on October 8, 2010. Rep. Markey is the House author of the CVAA.

The CVAA requires that a wide range of devices and services needed in the digital era, including smart phones for accessing the Internet, closed captioning for online video, audio descriptions of television programming, audible emergency alerts and other technologies are accessible to individuals with disabilities.

It¹s been one year since we passed the law that is bringing the latest communications and video devices and services to Americans with disabilities, helping to ensure that individuals who are blind or deaf can fully participate in 21st century society,² said Rep. Markey. ³The law is a major milestone in the fight for equal access to technology for all Americans. Two decades ago, the ADA mandated physical ramps into
buildings. Today, individuals with disabilities need online ramps to the Internet so they can get to the Web from wherever they happen to be.

It's not merely about being wheelchair accessible, it¹s also about being Web accessible.

I commend the FCC for its work to implement sections of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act. Following enactment of the law, I urged the Commission to ensure that the regulations would be broad in scope, limit waivers and mandate that exceptions for small businesses would be carefully considered and revisited to guarantee accessibility even in rural areas served by small providers. I am particularly pleased with the Commission¹s efforts in these areas.

With respect to the Order¹s treatment of software, I continue to believe that all software, whether it is already loaded within an advanced communications device or purchased separately, should have to meet the same accessibility standards. This is particularly important as new technologies are invented and consumers usage evolves in ways that we cannot predict today. I encourage the Commission to be vigilant to ensure that the Order¹s narrower interpretation on software does not
create a loophole that limits accessibility.

In the year since the enactment of the legislation, the Commission deserves tremendous credit for its diligent, determined approach to implementation of this sweeping law. I look forward to working with the Commission as it continues to implement this vital law.

Last month, Rep. Markey led a letter to the FCC signed by Representatives Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Anna Eshoo(D-Calif.), and Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) detailing priority areas for the FCC to consider as it releases rules to fully implement the Act.