A bill aimed at making modern communications devices accessible to those with disabilities has passed out of committee, a step closer to becoming law.
The Senate Commerce Committee approved the bill, called the Equal Access to the 21st Century Communications Act.
The bill aims to expand the availability of mobile phones that are compatible with hearing aids and would require updates in devices that render closed captioning – such as set-top boxes – as well as apply closed captioning rules to online video.
The bill is still subject to changes in committee, but its sponsors are trying to get it ready for a vote by the full Senate during this legislative session.
The Consumer Electronics Association is generally opposed to the bill, as it considers many of the measures onerous, or even unworkable.
The NCTA is supporting the goals, while continuing to work with the bill’s sponsors to make sure its provisions are practical.
NCTA President and CEO Kyle McSlarrow said: “Today’s action by Chairman Rockefeller and members of the Senate Commerce Committee significantly advances our shared goal of improving the accessibility of communications services and equipment in the 21st Century.
“We commend S. 3304’s principal sponsors, Senators Pryor, Kerry and Dorgan, for the substantial improvements and clarifications made to the bill. We also applaud Senator Ensign for his efforts in helping to promote consensus around identifiable and achievable goals. We will continue to work constructively with the Senate and House committees and the entire Congress as this important legislation moves forward.”