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Closed Captioning: New Law Connects TV, Internet & Hearing Aids

Bethesda, MD - The Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) applauds the Congress for passage of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the "21st Century Communications & Video Accessibility Act of 2010" by a voice vote September 28 at 9:28 pm. 

Closed CaptionAmong other provisions, the legislation requires telecom equipment used to make calls over the Internet to be compatible with hearing aids, provides for captioning on new TV programs online, and mandates that remote controls have a button or similar mechanism to easily access the closed captioning on broadcast and pay TV. 

"This legislation paves the way for a brighter future for anyone with a hearing loss who needs access to information on the Internet and to equipment," said Brenda Battat, executive director of HLAA. "As we all become more and more dependent on the Internet, this legislation will ensure people with hearing loss are included and able to enjoy its benefits." 

The bill is now headed to President Obama, who is expected to sign it into law. According to the news release issued by Representative Edward Markey (MA), who authored and championed this legislation, the passage of this bill delivers "one of the most significant victories for the disability community since the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed 20 years ago." 

The bill was championed by the Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology (COAT). COAT, established in 2007, is a coalition of over 300 national, regional, state, and community-based disability organizations. COAT advocates for legislative and regulatory safeguards that will ensure full access by people with disabilities to evolving high speed broadband, wireless and other Internet Protocol (IP) technologies. HLAA and 37 of HLAA's affiliates from around the country joined COAT. 

According to media release issued by COAT: 

"This evening's passage of the bill culminates a legislative process that has involved four hearings, six different bills and extensive lobbying and advocacy by COAT leaders from our over 310 affiliate members. Advocates are thrilled that the legislative process is now over and we can look forward to the next stages of implementation. With over a dozen rulemakings expected from the FCC over the next several years, the requirements of the Act will take time to have full effect." 

The Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) salutes the leaders of COAT who spent countless hours educating Congress and working with members of the many industries impacted by the bill to refine the language. HLAA and its chapter and state affiliates worked actively with COAT toward passage of this legislation. HLAA was privileged to be invited to testify before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet, in support of the legislation on June 10, 2010, where an HLAA representative spoke about the importance of access to the Internet for people with hearing loss. 

The primary goal of the legislation is to ensure that legislative and regulatory safeguards are in place so people with disabilities have access to evolving high speed broadband, wireless, and other internet-based technologies. A summary of what the legislation will do can be found at www.coataccess.org/node/9776

About the Hearing Loss Association of America

The Hearing Loss Association of America® (HLAA), founded in 1979, opens the world of communication to people with hearing loss through information, education, advocacy and support. HLAA publishes the bimonthly Hearing Loss Magazine, holds annual conventions, Walk4Hearing™, and more. Information can be found at www.hearingloss.org/. The national headquarters is located at 7910 Woodmont Avenue, Suite 1200, Bethesda, MD 20814. Phone: 301.657.2248. HLAA has chapters and state organizations across the country.

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