Representatives Edward Markey (D-MA) and Heather Wilson (R-NM) have introduced "The 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2008" (H.R. 6320). According to The Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology (COAT), the bill would amend the Communications Act to ensure that new Internet-enabled telephone and television services are accessible to and usable by people with disabilities and closes existing gaps in telecommunications laws.

The bill is co-sponsored by Representatives Lois Capps (D-CA), Hilda Solis (D-CA) and Barney Frank (D-MA). The bill includes the following specific measures:

Communications Access:

Video Programming Access

  • Requires decoder circuitry in all video programming devices.
  • Extends the closed captioning obligations to television-type video programming distributed over the Internet: covers programming that would otherwise be covered by the FCC's captioning rules, not user-generated content.
  • Requires easy access to closed captions via remote control, on-screen

    menus.

  • Requires easy access by blind people to television controls and program selection menus.
  • Restores video description rules and requires access to televised emergency programming for people who are blind or have low vision.

The Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology, or COAT, which was launched in March 2007, is a coalition of over 200 national and local organizations that advocates for full access by people with disabilities to evolving high speed broadband, wireless and Internet protocol (IP) technologies.