October 2012 Technology and Disability Policy Highlights

Date of Publication: 
2013 October

In October rules went into effect requiring closed captioning on certain Internet video programming added on or after September 30, 2012 to assist individuals with hearing loss, as part of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA). However, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted petitions for class waivers of sections 716 and 717 of the Communications Act of 1934, as enacted by the CVAA, and Part 14 of the Commission’s rules filed by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) and the Entertainment Software Association (ESA). Each waiver has an expiration date of October 8, 2015.

Netflix entered into a consent decree with the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) regarding the allegations that Netflix violated Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) due to inadequate provision of closed captioning on “Watch Instantly” streaming video programs. An agreement was reached requiring Netflix to pay $40,000 to NAD and ensure increased access to Netflix for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.

The Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau of the FCC submitted the first Biennial Report to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate, and the Committee on Energy and Commerce of the House of Representatives. The Commission evaluated the accessibility of telecommunications services and equipment to individuals with disabilities and reported that hearing aid compatibility needs are being met on equipment previously regulated but feature phones still have limited accessibility.


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