21st Century Communications and video Accessibility Act

I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore. On July 1, 2012 the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act finally took effect. This act requires the Networks and a few of the top cable channels to provide about 40 hours a quarter of descriptive video programming, roughly about 4 hours a week in the Top 25 television markets. This is something that is long over due, consider how long television has offered close captioning for the hearing impaired, so why have the blind been ignored for so long?

I have been counting down the days until the act went in to place, and it is finally here. I began researching how to receive the programming with the descriptive video. You basically have to set your television to receive the SAP signal, no that’s not just for Spanish programming. There is a setting to receive the secondary English audio programming which I assume is an audio feed that has the audio described programming. So why am I mad as hell now that July 1 has come and gone?

Because I am not receiving the secondary audio programming. My anger is directed at a few companies and organizations. You would think that this law which had to be voted on by Congress to take effect would be a big deal, but it’s not! In my research, I discovered that freakin Canada has been providing audio described programming for over ten years to there blind citizens! England and Australia have also been providing described video for their blind citizens for many years. So why does a country that prides itself on always being there for other people and thinking we help the world care less about its own people with disabilities? So yeah, I am angry at the United States for taking so long to get this act passed.

My anger isn’t solely directed at Congress, as I mentioned I haven’t begun to receive the audio feed. I am a Time Warner Cable subscriber, so I had the fun task of calling the cable company today to find out what I had to do to get the described video. And we all know how much fun it is to call the cable company. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the customer service rep I was speaking with had at least heard of descriptive video. She told me they mentioned it briefly to them, but that was it. Are you kidding me, what did the meeting go like this. Ok everyone Congress is forcing us to provide descriptive video for those blind people out there, so you may get some phone calls about it, but we’re not going to tell you how to instruct those blind people to actually receive the audio described programming or what television shows will be described. Fantastic. That’s right, after holding for awhile, I was told they knew nothing about it, and with the holiday they will have to call me back on Friday. I’m not holding my breath for a call back from the cable company. It gets even better, as minutes after hanging up with Time Warner I received an automatic call from them to rate the service I received. I started to do the survey, and there was no way for me to express my displeasure as there were just options to press and no comments to make.So this is how much juice Congress has? They can pass a law but getting it implemented is a whole different issue. Speaking of which I recall about ten years ago the Supreme Court ruled that the United States had to make money accessible to people with disabilities. How’s that coming along? I also recall either a Supreme Court ruling or another useless ruling by Congress that all future technologies meaning future designs of TV’s, microwaves, DVD Players, etc had to be accessible to the blind. What the hell ever happened to that? I’m pretty sure that in the last five years the equipment manufacturers have produced a new model or two. And guess what none of them are more accessible to the blind. Yet in England and Australia they now have talking set top boxes and in England they have TVs that read the menus to the blind. What the fuck Congress could you be any more useless. Just passing a law and not enforcing it doesn’t change a thing. So yeah I am angry at Congress and the cable companies, but it doesn’t end there.

I can’t tell you how many times a week I receive an email from one of the blind organizations asking me to donate money. A lot of these organizations like The Foundation Fighting Blindness, American Federation For the Blind, National Federation of the Blind, etc do a lot of good work. But they also drop the ball a lot. These organizations are supposed to be looking out for the blind more than anyone. You would think with a historic act like the 21st Communications and Video Accessibility Act going in to place there would be a lot of press releases and news put out there instructing blind people how to receive the content. But of course there is nothing. You know what comes up when google Audio Descriptive Video? Definitions of what it is, Wikipedia on the history of, and resources for companies selling their services to describe videos. Not a thing on how a blind person can receive the descriptive video or what programs are being described. So yeah, my anger is also directed towards the blind organizations, as they should be at the front of a media storm getting this information out there. I guess they are just to busy putting together the next email I will receive asking for more money. Thanks for looking out for me. That last sentence was sarcasm.

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2 Responses to “21st Century Communications and video Accessibility Act”

  1. Lorraine Says:

    This is yet another example of how our government, and I am talking about all levels of same tell us what we have to do to be compliant with a given law but provide little to no funding with which to do the work required to actually provide the services promised in said law.

    Many Special Education laws have been enacted but monies for implementation and training was never forthcoming which left funding to the states to provide which then trickled down to local school districts, which inevitably ends up in our individual school tax bills and rent increases.

    Getting back to your topic; who is providing money to actually produce the ADVs? I’m sure they don’t come with a broadcast as an extra feature like those provided at the end of a DVD, and I am equally certain that they are not inexpensive to produce and distribute.

    Welcome to the world of the “Unfunded Mandate.”

    Sorry I can’t be more positive.

    How was your weekend at the W?

    • blindgator Says:

      I’m sure the companies that are producing the content will be responsible for paying for the production of the descriptive video as I would assume it would fall under the same classification as the close captioning that is being provided. It’s probably something like Congress determined the company production the content should pay for it, the company producing the content than passed the bill along to the marketing department than the marketing department passed it along to the advertisers, and the advertisers forced the bill on to the cable companies who than turned around and raised all of our cable subscriptions so we are probably being screwed. Just my conspiracy theory there

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