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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress.
6/19/2008--Introduced. Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2008 - Amends the Communications Act of 1934 to define "disability."
Requires that equipment providing IP-enabled voice communication services via a built-in speaker provide an internal means for hearing aid use.
Redefines "telecommunications relay services." Requires interconnected VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) providers and providers of voice communications using an IP-enabled service to contribute to the Telecommunications Relay Services Fund.
Requires, unless it would be an undue burden (significant difficulty or expense), that equipment and services for IP-enabled communication be usable by individuals with disabilities. Requires, if such requirements are an undue burden, that the equipment or service be compatible with existing commonly used devices or specialized customer equipment, unless that requirement would be an undue burden.
Establishes an accessible products and services clearinghouse.
Declares that the transmission and receipt of text messages are telecommunications services for purposes of access by persons with disabilities.
Adds telecommunications and IP-enabled communication services needed by individuals with disabilities to the services supported by Lifeline and Link Up programs and other federal universal service support mechanisms.
Makes eligible for universal service support certified programs for the distribution of equipment to make telecommunications and IP-enabled communication service accessible by deaf-blind individuals.
Requires seamless text communication among interconnected VoIP services, IP-enabled communication services, and telecommunications services.
Requires a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) inquiry and report concerning: (1) closed captioning decoder and video description capability; (2) user interfaces; and (3) video programming guides and menus.
Revises provisions concerning any apparatus designed to receive television pictures broadcast simultaneously with sound to require that any apparatus that receives or displays video programming transmitted simultaneously with sound be capable of decoding closed captioning, delivering video description, and conveying emergency information, including Emergency Alert System messages, accessibly to blind or visually-impaired individuals.
Requires the FCC video description regulations contained in the Implementation of Video Description of Video Programming, Report and Order to be considered to be in full force and effect and applicable to video programming published after enactment of this Act.
Requires identification of methods to convey emergency information accessibly to blind or visually-impaired individuals.
Requires that apparatus to receive or display video, including using IP-enabled communication services, allow control by individuals with disabilities and that on-screen menus be accompanied by audio output to enable control by blind or visually impaired individuals.
Requires each provider or owner of video programming and each multichannel programming distributor to ensure that video programming information and selection provided by means of a navigational device, guide, or menu is accessible in real-time by individuals with disabilities who are unable to read the visual display.