H.R. 3101 (111th): Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010

111th Congress, 2009–2010. Text as of Jun 26, 2009 (Introduced).

Status & Summary | PDF | Source: GPO

I

111th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. R. 3101

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

June 26, 2009

introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce

A BILL

To ensure that individuals with disabilities have access to emerging Internet Protocol-based communication and video programming technologies in the 21st century.

1.

Short title; table of contents

(a)

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009.

(b)

Table of contents

Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.

Title I—Communications access

Sec. 101. Definitions.

Sec. 102. Hearing aid compatibility.

Sec. 103. Relay services.

Sec. 104. Access to Internet-based services and equipment.

Sec. 105. Universal service.

Sec. 106. Emergency access and real-time text support.

Sec. 107. Internet access service interface.

Title II—Video programming

Sec. 201. Commission inquiry on closed captioning decoder and video description capability, user interfaces, and video programming guides and menus.

Sec. 202. Closed captioning decoder and video description capability.

Sec. 203. Video description and closed captioning.

Sec. 204. User interfaces regulations.

Sec. 205. Access to video programming guides and menus.

I

Communications access

101.

Definitions

Section 3 of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 153) is amended—

(1)

by adding at the end the following new paragraphs:

(53)

Disability

The term disability has the meaning given such term under section 3(2)(A) of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. 12102(2)(A)), as such section may be amended from time to time.

(54)

Interconnected VoIP service

The term interconnected VoIP service has the meaning given such term by section 9.3 of the Commission’s rules (47 C.F.R. 9.3).

(55)

Advanced communications

The term advanced communications means—

(A)

interconnected VoIP service;

(B)

non-interconnected VoIP service;

(C)

electronic messaging; and

(D)

video conferencing.

(56)

Non-interconnected VoIP service

The term non-interconnected VoIP service

(A)

means a service that—

(i)

enables real-time voice communications that originate from or terminate to the user’s location using Internet protocol or any successor protocol; and

(ii)

requires Internet protocol compatible customer premises equipment; and

(B)

does not include any service that is an interconnected VoIP service.

(57)

Electronic messaging

The term electronic messaging means a service that provides non-voice messages in text form between persons over communications networks.

(58)

Internet access equipment

The term Internet access equipment means equipment that is used to combine computer processing, information provision and computer interactivity with data transport, enabling users to run a variety of applications, including e-mail.

(59)

Internet access service

The term Internet access service means a service that combines computer processing, information provision, and computer interactivity with data transport, enabling end users to access the Internet and use a variety of applications, including e-mail.

(60)

Video conferencing

The term video conferencing means a service that provides real-time video communications, including audio, to enable users to share information of the user’s choosing.

(61)

Consumer generated media

The term consumer generated media means posts or content made by consumers to online sites and venues on the Internet, including video, audio, and multimedia content created by such consumers.

; and

(2)

by reordering paragraphs (1) through (52) and the paragraphs added by paragraph (1) of this section in alphabetical order based on the headings of such paragraphs, and renumbering such paragraphs as so reordered.

102.

Hearing aid compatibility

(a)

Compatibility requirements

Section 710(b)(1) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 610(b)(1)) is amended—

(1)

by striking and at the end of subparagraph (A);

(2)

by inserting and after the comma at the end of subparagraph (B); and

(3)

by inserting after subparagraph (B) the following new subparagraph:

(C)

to the extent technologically feasible, all customer premises equipment used to provide advanced communications that provides voice communication via a built-in speaker (typically held to the ear) and that are manufactured in the United States (other than for export) more than one year after the date of enactment of the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009, or are shipped in interstate commerce in the United States more than one year after such date,

.

(b)

Technical standards

Section 710(c) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 610(c)) is amended by adding at the end the following: A telephone or other customer premises equipment that is compliant with a relevant technical standard developed through a public participation process will be deemed compatible with this section if such standard has been reviewed and approved by national organizations representing consumers who will be using such telephone or equipment, until such times as the Commission may deem otherwise. The Commission shall consult with the public, including people with hearing loss, in establishing or approving such technical standards. The Commission may delegate this authority to an employee pursuant to section 5(c). The Commission shall designate the national consumer organizations for purposes of this section and shall remain the final arbiter as to whether the standard meets the requirements of this section.

103.

Relay services

(a)

Definition

Paragraph (3) of section 225(a) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 225(a)(3)) is amended to read as follows:

(3)

Telecommunications relay services

The term telecommunications relay services means telephone transmission that provides the ability for an individual who is deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind, or who has a speech disability to engage in communication by wire or radio with one or more individuals, in a manner that is functionally equivalent to the ability of a hearing individual who does not have a speech disability to communicate using voice communication services by wire or radio.

.

(b)

Internet protocol-based relay services

Title VII of such Act is amended by adding at the end the following new section:

715.

Internet protocol-based relay services

Within one year after the date of enactment of the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009, each interconnected VoIP service provider and each provider of non-interconnected VoIP service shall participate in and contribute to the Telecommunications Relay Services Fund established in section 64.404(c)(5)(iii) of the Commission’s regulations (47 C.F.R. 64.404(c)(5)(iii)), as in effect on the date of enactment of such Act, in a manner prescribed by the Commission by regulation to provide for obligations of such providers that are consistent with and comparable to the obligations of other contributors to such Fund.

.

104.

Access to Internet-based services and equipment

(a)

Title VII amendment

Title VII of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) is amended by inserting after section 715 (as added by section 103 of this Act) the following new sections:

716.

Access to Internet-based services and equipment

(a)

Manufacturing

With respect to equipment manufactured after the effective date of the regulations established pursuant to subsection (e), and subject to those regulations, a manufacturer of equipment used for advanced communications, including end user equipment, network equipment, and software, shall ensure that the equipment and software that such manufacturer designs, develops, and fabricates shall be accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities, unless the requirement of this subsection would result in an undue burden.

(b)

Service providers

With respect to services provided after the effective date of the regulations established pursuant to subsection (e), and subject to those regulations, a provider of advanced communications shall ensure that services offered by such provider are accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities, unless the requirement of this subsection would result in an undue burden.

(c)

Compatibility

Whenever the requirements of subsections (a) and (b) constitute an undue burden, a manufacturer or provider shall ensure that its equipment or service is compatible with existing peripheral devices or specialized customer premises equipment commonly used by individuals with disabilities to achieve access, unless the requirement of this subsection would result in an undue burden.

(d)

Network features, functions, and capabilities

Each provider of advanced communications has the duty not to install network features, functions, or capabilities that do not comply with the regulations established pursuant to this section.

(e)

Regulations

Within one year after the date of enactment of the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009, the Commission shall prescribe such regulations as are necessary to implement this section. In prescribing the regulations, the Commission shall—

(1)

include standards to ensure the accessibility, usability, and compatibility of advanced communications and the equipment used for advanced communications by individuals with disabilities; and

(2)

provide that advanced communications, the equipment used for advanced communications, and advanced communications service networks used to provide such advanced communications may not impair or impede the accessibility of information content when accessibility has been incorporated into that content for transmission through advanced communications, equipment used for advanced communications, or advanced communications service networks.

(f)

Services and equipment subject to section 255

The requirements of this section shall not apply to any equipment or services, including interconnected VoIP service, that are subject to the requirements of section 255 on the date of enactment of the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009. Such services and equipment shall remain subject to the requirements of section 255.

(g)

Definition

For purposes of the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009, the term undue burden means significant difficulty or expense. In determining whether the requirements of any provision of this section would result in an undue burden, the factors to be considered include—

(1)

the nature and cost of the steps required to develop and manufacture the product in question;

(2)

the impact on the operation of the manufacturer or provider;

(3)

the financial resources of the manufacturer or provider; and

(4)

the type of operations of the manufacturer or provider.

717.

Enforcement and reporting obligations

(a)

Complaint and enforcement procedures

Within one year after the date of enactment of the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009, the Commission shall establish regulations that facilitate the filing of complaints that allege a violation of section 255, 716, 718, or 719, establish formal and informal procedures for enforcement actions by the Commission with respect to such violations, and implement the reporting obligations of paragraph (6) for manufacturers and providers subject to such sections. Such regulations shall include the following provisions:

(1)

No fee

The Commission shall not charge any fee to an individual who files a complaint alleging a violation of section 255, 716, 718, or 719.

(2)

Receipt of complaints

The Commission shall establish separate and identifiable electronic, telephonic, and physical receptacles for the receipt of complaints filed under section 255, 716, 718, or 719.

(3)

Complaints to the Commission

Any person alleging a violation of section 255, 716, 718, or 719 by a manufacturer of equipment or provider of service subject to such sections may file a complaint with the Commission. The Commission shall investigate the allegations in such complaint and issue a final order concluding the investigation within 180 days of the date on which such complaint was filed with the Commission, unless such complaint is resolved before such time. The Commission may consolidate for investigation and resolution complaints alleging substantially the same violation by the same manufacturer or provider. Such final order shall include a determination as to whether any violation has occurred and, if the Commission determines that a violation has occurred, address the manner in which the manufacturer or service provider will achieve accessibility, compatibility, or usability required by section 255, 716, 718, or 719. If a determination is made that a violation has not occurred, the Commission shall provide the basis for such determination, including the basis for determining that an accessibility feature requested is not readily achievable under section 255 or will create an undue burden under section 716, 718, or 719.

(4)

Opportunity to respond

Before the Commission makes a determination pursuant to paragraph (3), the party that is the subject of the complaint shall have the opportunity to respond to such complaint, and may include in such response any factors that it deems relevant to such determination and any available alternatives that might constitute an effective substitute for the equipment or service that is the subject of such complaint.

(5)

Cease and desist orders

If the Commission’s investigation pursuant to paragraph (3) determines that a manufacturer of equipment or provider of service is engaged in an act prohibited by section 255, 716, 718, or 719, or is failing to perform any act required by section 255, 716, 718, or 719, the Commission shall have the authority to order such manufacturer or provider to cease from violating such section.

(6)

Reporting

(A)

Each manufacturer of equipment used for advanced communications and each provider of advanced communications shall—

(i)

file a report with the Commission, on an annual basis, that describes the steps that have been taken by such manufacturer or provider during the preceding year to implement sections 255 and 716, including—

(I)

information about the manufacturer’s or provider’s efforts to consult with people with disabilities;

(II)

descriptions of the accessibility features of its products and services; and

(III)

information about the compatibility of their products and services with peripheral devices or specialized customer premise equipment commonly used by people with disabilities to achieve access; and

(ii)

maintain, in the ordinary course of business, records of the efforts taken by such manufacturer or provider to implement sections 255 and 716.

(B)

The report required by subparagraph (A) shall be submitted to the Commission through the use of a compliance report form, to be established by the Commission, that is comparable to the structure of the form that is used to monitor and report on the progress of the implementation of the Commission’s hearing aid compatibility requirements established in WT Docket No. 01–309.

(7)

Failure to act

If the Commission fails to carry out any of its responsibilities to act upon a complaint in the manner prescribed in paragraph (3), the person that filed such complaint may bring an action in the nature of mandamus in an appropriate Federal district court to compel the Commission to carry out any such responsibility.

(8)

Commission jurisdiction

The limitations of section 255(f) shall apply to any claim that alleges a violation of section 255, 716, 718, or 719. Nothing in this paragraph affects or limits any action for mandamus under paragraph (7) or any appeal pursuant to section 402(b)(10).

(9)

Private resolutions of complaints

Nothing in the Commission’s rules or this Act shall be construed to preclude a person who files a complaint and a manufacturer or provider from resolving a formal or informal complaint prior to the Commission’s final determination in a complaint proceeding. In the event of such a resolution, the parties shall jointly request dismissal of the complaint and the Commission shall grant such request.

(b)

Reports to Congress

Every two years after the date of enactment of the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009, the Commission shall submit a report to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate and the Committee on Energy and Commerce of the House of Representatives that assesses the level of compliance with section 255 or 716 and evaluates the extent to which any accessibility barriers still exist with respect to new technologies. Such report shall include—

(1)

the number and nature of complaints received pursuant to subsection (a) during the two years that are the subject of the report;

(2)

actions taken to resolve such complaints under this section, including cease and desist orders issued and forfeiture penalties assessed;

(3)

the length of time that was taken by the Commission to resolve each such complaint; and

(4)

the number, status, nature, and outcome of any actions for mandamus filed pursuant to subsection (a)(7) and the number, status, nature, and outcome of any appeals filed pursuant to section 402(b)(10).

(c)

Comptroller General enforcement study

(1)

In general

The Comptroller General shall conduct a study to consider and evaluate—

(A)

the Commission’s compliance with the requirements of the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009, including the Commission’s level of compliance with the deadlines (including deadlines for acting on complaints) established in such Act;

(B)

whether the enforcement actions taken by the Commission pursuant to such Act have been appropriate and effective in ensuring compliance with such requirements; and

(C)

whether the enforcement provisions established in such Act are adequate to ensure compliance with such requirements.

(2)

Report

Not later than 5 years after the date of enactment of the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009, the Comptroller General shall submit a report to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and the House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce on the results of the study required by paragraph (1), with recommendations for how the enforcement process and measures with respect to such Act may be modified or improved.

(d)

Clearinghouse

Within one year after the date of enactment of the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009, the Commission shall, in consultation with the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, trade associations, and organizations representing individuals with disabilities, establish a clearinghouse of information on the availability of accessible products and services and accessibility solutions required under sections 255 and 716. Such information shall be made publicly available on the Commission’s website and by other means, and shall include an annually updated list of products and services with access features.

(e)

Outreach and education

Within one year after the date of enactment of the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009, the Commission, in coordination with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, shall conduct an informational and educational program designed to inform the public about the availability of the clearinghouse, and the protections and remedies available under sections 255 and 716.

.

(b)

Title V amendments

Section 503(b)(2) of such Act (47 U.S.C. 503(b)(2)) is amended—

(1)

by redesignating subparagraphs (C) and (D) as subparagraphs (D) and (E), respectively;

(2)

by inserting after subparagraph (B) the following:

(C)

If the violator is a manufacturer of telecommunications equipment, a manufacturer of equipment used for advanced communications, or a provider of advanced communications, who is subject to the requirements of section 255, 716, 718, or 719, and who is determined by the Commission to have violated any such requirement, the manufacturer of telecommunications equipment, the manufacturer of equipment used for advanced communications, or the provider of advanced communications shall be liable to the United States for a forfeiture penalty. The amount of any penalty determined under this paragraph shall not exceed $100,000 for each violation or each day of a continuing violation, except that the amount assessed for any continuing violation shall not exceed a total of $1,000,000 for any single act or failure to act.

; and

(3)

in subparagraph (D) (as so redesignated by paragraph (1) of this subsection), by striking subparagraphs (A) or (B) and inserting subparagraphs (A), (B), or (C).

(c)

Review of commission determinations

Section 402(b) of such Act (47 U.S.C. 402(b)) is amended by adding the following new paragraph:

(10)

By any person who is aggrieved or whose interests are adversely affected by a determination made by the Commission under section 717(a)(3).

.

105.

Universal service

(a)

Consumers with disabilities

Section 254(c) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 254) is amended by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

(4)

Individuals with disabilities

Notwithstanding subsection (j), the Commission shall authorize Lifeline and Link-Up assistance programs and other Federal universal service support mechanisms to be used for those telecommunications services, Internet access services, and advanced communications that are needed by individuals with disabilities, who are otherwise qualified for such programs or mechanisms, to engage in communication with one or more other individuals in a manner that is functionally equivalent to the ability of individuals without disabilities to engage in such communication.

.

(b)

Allocation of USF for services for individuals with disabilities

Section 254 of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 254) is further amended—

(1)

by redesignating subsections (i) through (l) as subsections (j) through (m), respectively; and

(2)

by inserting after subsection (h) the following new subsection:

(i)

Individuals who are deaf-blind

(1)

In general

Within 6 months after the date of the enactment of the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009, the Commission shall establish rules that define as eligible for universal service support those programs that are certified by a State commission or approved by the Commission for the distribution of specialized customer premises equipment designed to make telecommunications service, Internet access services, and advanced communications, including interexchange services and advanced telecommunications and information services, accessible by individuals who are deaf-blind.

(2)

Definition

For the purposes of this subsection, the term individuals who are deaf-blind has the same meaning given such term in the Helen Keller National Center Act, as amended by the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1992 (29 U.S.C. 1905(2)).

(3)

Annual amount

The total amount of universal service support that may be obligated or expended under this subsection for any fiscal year may not exceed $10,000,000.

.

106.

Emergency access and real-time text support

Title VII of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) is further amended by inserting after section 717 (as added by section 104 of this Act) the following new section:

718.

Emergency access and real-time text advisory committee

(a)

Establishment

For the purpose of achieving equal access to emergency services by individuals with disabilities, as a part of the migration to a national Internet protocol-enabled emergency network, not later than 60 days after the date of enactment of the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009, the Chairman of the Commission shall establish an advisory committee, to be known as the Emergency Access and Real-Time Text Advisory Committee (referred to in this section as the Advisory Committee).

(b)

Membership

As soon as practicable after the date of enactment of the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009, the Chairman of the Commission shall appoint the members of the Advisory Committee, ensuring an equal balance between potential real-time text consumers and other stakeholders, and designate two such members as the co-chairs of the Committee. Members of the Advisory Committee shall be selected from the following groups:

(1)

State and local government and emergency responder representatives

Representatives of State and local governments and representatives of emergency response providers, selected from among individuals nominated by national organizations representing such governments and personnel.

(2)

Subject matter experts

Individuals who have the requisite technical knowledge and expertise to serve on the Advisory Committee in the fulfillment of its duties, including representatives of—

(A)

providers of interconnected and non-interconnected VoIP services;

(B)

vendors, developers, and manufacturers of systems, facilities, equipment, and capabilities for the provision of interconnected and non-interconnected VoIP services;

(C)

national organizations representing people with disabilities and senior citizens;

(D)

Federal agencies or departments responsible for the implementation of the Next Generation E 9–1–1 system;

(E)

the National Institute of Standards and Technology; and

(F)

other individuals with relevant technical expertise.

(3)

Qualified representatives of other stakeholders and interested parties

Qualified representatives of such other stakeholders and interested and affected parties as the Chairman of the Commission determines appropriate.

(c)

Development of recommendations

Within six months after the completion of the member appointment process by the Chairman of the Commission pursuant to subsection (b), the Advisory Committee shall develop and submit to the Commission recommendations—

(1)

with respect to the definition of real-time text;

(2)

with respect to what actions are necessary as a part of the migration to a national Internet protocol-enabled network to achieve reliable, interoperable real-time text communication transmitted over such network that will ensure access to emergency services by people with disabilities;

(3)

for protocols, technical capabilities, and technical requirements to ensure reliable, interoperable real-time text communications necessary to ensure access to emergency services by people with disabilities;

(4)

for the establishment of technical standards for use by public safety answering points, designated default answering points and local emergency authorities;

(5)

for relevant technical standards and requirements for communication devices and equipment and technologies to enable the use of reliable, interoperable real-time text communications;

(6)

for procedures to be followed by IP-enabled network providers to ensure that such providers do not install features, functions or capabilities that would conflict with technical standards; and

(7)

for deadlines by which providers of interconnected and non-interconnected VoIP services and manufacturers of equipment used for such services shall achieve the actions required in paragraphs (1) through (6), and for the possible phase out of the use of current-generation TTY technology to the extent that this technology is replaced with real-time text.

(d)

Meetings

(1)

Initial meeting

The initial meeting of the Advisory Committee shall take place not later than 45 days after the completion of the member appointment process by the Chairman of the Commission pursuant to subsection (b).

(2)

Other meetings

After the initial meeting, the Advisory Committee shall meet at the call of the chairs, but no less than monthly until the recommendations required pursuant to subsection (c) are completed and submitted.

(3)

Notice; open meetings

Any meetings held by the Advisory Committee shall be duly noticed at least 14 days in advance and shall be open to the public.

(e)

Rules

(1)

Quorum

One-third of the members of the Advisory Committee shall constitute a quorum for conducting business of the Advisory Committee.

(2)

Subcommittees

To assist the Advisory Committee in carrying out its functions, the chair may establish appropriate subcommittees composed of members of the Advisory Committee and other subject matter experts as deemed necessary.

(3)

Additional rules

The Advisory Committee may adopt other rules as needed.

(f)

Federal Advisory Committee Act

Neither the Federal Advisory Committee Act (5 U.S.C. App.) nor any rule, order, or regulation promulgated under that Act shall apply to the Advisory Committee.

(g)

Implementing recommendations

The Commission shall have the authority to promulgate regulations to implement the recommendations proposed by the Advisory Committee, as well as any other regulations, technical standards, protocols, and procedures as are necessary to achieve reliable, interoperable real-time text communication that ensures access by people with disabilities to an Internet protocol-enabled emergency network.

.

107.

Internet access service interface

Title VII of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) is further amended by adding after section 718 (as added by section 106 of this Act) the following new section:

719.

Internet access service user interface

Every provider of Internet access service and every manufacturer of Internet access equipment shall, unless it would result in an undue burden, make user interfaces for such service and equipment accessible to individuals with disabilities, including those interfaces used to initiate, monitor, and control such service.

.

II

Video programming

201.

Commission inquiry on closed captioning decoder and video description capability, user interfaces, and video programming guides and menus

(a)

Inquiry required

The Federal Communications Commission shall conduct an inquiry on the following subjects:

(1)

Closed-captioning decoder and video description capability

With respect to closed captioning decoder and video description capability, the Federal Communications Commission shall—

(A)

describe—

(i)

the formats and software commonly used by video programming providers or owners for exhibition on new technologies, including those using the Internet protocol (or a successor protocol) and digital wireless services; and

(ii)

the related technical issues associated with the implementation of closed captioning and video description by means of such new technologies;

(B)

describe the technical standards, protocols, and procedures needed for the transmission of closed captioning and video description by means of services using the Internet protocol (or a successor protocol) and digital wireless services and equipment; and

(C)

describe—

(i)

technical standards, protocols, and procedures needed to enable video programming providers and owners to transmit emergency information in a manner that is accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired; and

(ii)

the persons or parties obligated to create, receive, and transmit such emergency information in accordance with such standards, protocols, and procedures.

(2)

User interfaces

With respect to user interfaces, the Federal Communications Commission shall—

(A)

describe the technical standards, protocols, and procedures needed to enable apparatus designed to receive or display video programming transmitted simultaneously with sound (including apparatus designed to receive or display video programming transmitted by means of services using the Internet protocol or successor protocol) to be capable of making the apparatus functions, necessary for the receipt, display, navigation, or selection of video programming (and any other functions shared by, related to, or necessary to access such apparatus functions), accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities; and

(B)

describe the technical standards, protocols, and procedures needed to enable on-screen text menus and other visual indicators used to access the functions described in subparagraph (A) to be accompanied by audio output so that such menus or indicators are accessible to and usable by individuals who are blind or visually impaired.

(3)

Video programming guides and menus

With respect to video programming guides and menus, the Federal Communications Commission shall describe the technical standards, protocols, and procedures needed to enable video programming information and selection provided by means of a navigational device, guide, or menu to be accessible in real-time by individuals with disabilities who are unable to read the visual display.

(b)

Report on inquiry

Within 18 months after the date of enactment of this Act, the Federal Communications Commission shall submit to the Congress a report on the results of such inquiry.

(c)

Definitions

For purposes of this section, the terms video description and video programming have the meanings provided by section 713(g) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 613(g)).

202.

Closed captioning decoder and video description capability

(a)

Authority To regulate

Section 303(u) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 303(u)) is amended to read as follows:

(u)

Require that apparatus designed to receive or play back video programming (as such term is defined in section 713(g)) transmitted simultaneously with sound, when such apparatus is manufactured in the United States or imported for use in the United States and uses a picture screen that is 13 inches or greater in size—

(1)

be equipped with built-in closed caption decoder circuitry or capability designed to display closed-captioned video programming;

(2)

have the capability to make available the transmission and delivery of video description services as required by section 713(f); and

(3)

have the capability to convey emergency information (as that term is defined in section 79.2 of the Commission’s regulations (47 C.F.R. 79.2)) in a manner that is accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired.

.

(b)

Other devices

Section 303 of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 303) is further amended—

(1)

by redesignating subsections (v) through (y) as subsections (y) through (bb), respectively; and

(2)

by inserting after subsection (u) the following new subsections:

(v)

Require, after inquiry, that apparatus designed to receive or play back video programming (as such term is defined in section 713(g)) transmitted simultaneously with sound, when such apparatus is manufactured in the United States or imported for use in the United States and uses a picture screen that is less than 13 inches in size—

(1)

be equipped with built-in closed caption decoder circuitry or capability designed to display closed-captioned video programming;

(2)

have the capability to make available the transmission and delivery of video description services as required by section 713(f); and

(3)

have the capability to convey emergency information (as that term is defined in section 79.2 of the Commission’s regulations (47 C.F.R. 79.2)), in a manner that is accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired.

(w)

Require, after inquiry, that apparatus manufactured in the United States or imported for use in the United States that is designed to record video programming (as such term is defined in section 713(g)) transmitted simultaneously with sound, retain and permit the pass through of closed captions and video description signals such that viewers will be able to activate and deactivate the closed captions and video description when the video programming is played back on a picture screen of any size. Interconnection mechanisms and standards for digital video source devices must be able to carry program related accessibility data for people with disabilities from the source device to the consumer equipment so that the consumer is able to display closed captions and make encoded video description audible.

(x)

Exempt from requirements of subsections (u) and (v) any apparatus or class of apparatuses that are display-only video monitors, with no playback capability and shall have the authority to waive the requirements of such subsections for any apparatus or class of apparatuses.

.

(c)

Shipment in commerce

Section 330(b) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 330(b)) is amended—

(1)

by striking 303(u) in the first sentence and inserting 303(u), (v), and (w);

(2)

by striking the second sentence and inserting the following: Such rules shall provide performance and display standards for such built-in decoder circuitry or capability designed to display closed captioned video programming, the transmission and delivery of video description services and the conveyance of emergency information as required by section 303 of this Act,; and

(3)

in the fourth sentence, by inserting and video description service after closed-captioning service.

(d)

Implementing regulations

The Federal Communications Commission shall prescribe such regulations as are necessary to implement the requirements of this section, including any technical standards, protocols, and procedures needed for the transmission of closed captioning, video description and emergency information, within 12 months after the submission of the report to Congress required by section 201(b) of this Act.

203.

Video description and closed captioning

(a)

Video description

Section 713 of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 613) is amended by striking subsections (f) and (g) and inserting the following:

(f)

Video description

(1)

Reinstatement of rules

The video description regulations of the Commission contained in the report and order identified as Implementation of Video Description of Video Programming, Report and Order (15 F.C.C.R. 15,230 (2000)), when such rules are republished and refreshed pursuant to paragraph (2), shall—

(A)

be considered to be in full force and effect and ratified by law; and

(B)

apply to video programming (as such term is defined in subsection (g)) that is first published or exhibited after the date of enactment of the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009.

(2)

Continuing authority of the Commission

The Commission shall—

(A)

within 45 days after the date of enactment of the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009

(i)

publish and refresh its video description regulations contained in the report and order identified as Implementation of Video Description of Video Programming, Report and Order (15 F.C.C.R. 15,230 (2000)) in a manner that provides the same or an improved level of video description service; and

(ii)

apply the requirements of such report and order to owners of and providers of video programming (as such term is defined in subsection (g));

(B)

initiate a proceeding, to be completed within 12 months after the submission of the report to Congress required by section 201(b) of the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009 to—

(i)

identify methods to convey emergency information (as that term is defined in section 79.2 of the Commission’s regulations (47 C.F.R. 79.2)) in a manner accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired; and

(ii)

promulgate regulations that require video programming providers and video programming distributors (as those terms are defined in section 79.1 of the Commission’s regulations (47 C.F.R. 79.1)) and owners of video programming to convey such emergency information in a manner accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired, consistent with the requirements of such section of such regulations; and

(C)

promulgate any other regulation that the Commission may find necessary to implement, enforce, or otherwise carry out the provisions of this section, including regulations to increase the amount of video description required to achieve full access to video programming for individuals who are blind or visually impaired.

(3)

Requirements for rules

(A)

The regulations described in paragraph (1) and republished and refreshed, or otherwise increased or enhanced, pursuant to subparagraphs (A) or (C) of paragraph (2) shall include an appropriate schedule of deadlines for the provision of video description of video programming.

(B)

Such regulations may permit a provider of video programming or program owner to petition the Commission for an exemption from the requirements of this section upon a showing that the requirements contained in this section would result in an undue burden (as defined in subsection (e)). A provider shall be exempt from such requirements only after the Commission decides to grant any such petition.

(C)

The Commission may exempt from the regulations established pursuant to paragraph (2)(C) services, classes of services, programs, classes of programs, equipment, or classes of equipment for which the Commission has determined that the application of such regulations would be economically burdensome to the providers of such services.

(g)

Definitions

For purposes of this section:

(1)

Video description

The term video description means the insertion of audio narrated descriptions of the video programming’s key visual elements into natural pauses between the program’s dialogue.

(2)

Video programming

The term video programming means programming provided by, or generally considered comparable to programming provided by, a television broadcast station, even if such programming is distributed over the Internet or by some other means.

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(b)

Closed captioning on video programming distributed over the internet

Section 713 of such Act is further amended by striking subsection (c) and inserting the following:

(c)

Deadlines for captioning

(1)

In general

The regulations prescribed pursuant to subsection (b) shall include an appropriate schedule of deadlines for the provision of closed captioning of video programming.

(2)

Deadlines for Internet-distributed programming

(A)

Within 12 months after the submission of the report to Congress required by section 201(b) of the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009, the Commission shall prescribe regulations that include an appropriate schedule of deadlines for the provision of closed captioning of video programming distributed to the public over the Internet.

(B)

Consistent with the regulations promulgated under subsection (b), the regulations prescribed under this paragraph shall ensure the accessibility of video programming, except for consumer generated media, through the provision of captions on—

(i)

preproduced video programming that was previously captioned for television viewing;

(ii)

live video programming; and

(iii)

video programming first published or exhibited after the effective date of such regulations provided by or generally considered to be comparable to programming provided by multichannel programming distributors.

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(c)

Conforming amendment

Section 713(d) of such Act is amended by striking paragraph (3) and inserting the following:

(3)

a provider of video programming or program owner may petition the Commission for an exemption from the requirements of this section, and—

(A)

the Commission may grant such petition upon a showing that the requirements contained in this section would result in an undue burden; and

(B)

such exemption shall be effective only after the Commission grants such petition.

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204.

User interfaces regulations

(a)

Amendment

Section 303 of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 303) is further amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:

(cc)
(1)

Require, after inquiry—

(A)

that apparatus designed to receive or play back video programming transmitted simultaneously with sound, including apparatus designed to receive or display video programming transmitted by means of services using the Internet protocol (or successor protocol), be designed, developed, and fabricated so that control of all apparatus functions enabling the receipt, display, navigation, or selection of video programming (and any other functions shared by, related to, or necessary to access such apparatus functions), are accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities;

(B)

that where on-screen text menus or other visual indicators are used to access the functions described in subparagraph (A), such functions be accompanied by audio output that is either integrated or peripheral to the apparatus, so that such menus or indicators are accessible to and usable by individuals who are blind or visually impaired in real-time; and

(C)

that user controls need to access closed captioning and video description, including—

(i)

a button, key, or icon on the remote control of such apparatus (where a remote control is provided with the apparatus) designated for activating the closed caption function; and

(ii)

the inclusion of closed captions and video description on the first menu that appears when on-screen menus are displayed on such apparatus.

(2)

For purposes of this subsection, the terms video description and video programming have the meanings given such terms in section 713(g).

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(b)

Implementing regulations

Within 12 months after the submission of the report to Congress required by section 201(b) of this Act, the Federal Communications Commission shall prescribe such regulations as are necessary to implement the amendments made by subsection (a).

205.

Access to video programming guides and menus

(a)

Amendment

Section 303 of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 303) is further amended by adding after subsection (cc), as added by section 204 of this Act, the following new subsection:

(dd)

Require each provider or owner of video programming (as such term is defined in section 713(g)), with the exception of consumer generated media, 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.

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(b)

Implementing regulations

Within 12 months after the submission of the report to Congress required by section 201(b) of this Act, the Federal Communications Commission shall prescribe such regulations as are necessary to implement the amendments made by subsection (a).