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RE: Opposition to Existing Legislation to Reinstate the FCC Video Description Rule

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RE: opposition to existing legislation to reinstate the FCC
video description rule

WHEREAS, on February 17, 2005, Congressman Edward Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, introduced the Video Description Restoration Act of 2005 H.R. 951, and on April 26 Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, introduced the Television Information-Enhancement for the Visually Impaired (TIVI) Act, companion pieces of legislation to mandate reinstatement of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rule that required four hours of video-described television in the top twenty-five markets based on population as well as stations in other markets with the capacity to do so; and

WHEREAS, these bills call on the FCC to convene a proceeding to consider making written information on the screen accessible, but nothing in the legislation actually requires the FCC to conduct a rule-making to establish a protocol for voicing this information; and

WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind has consistently and unambiguously stated our position on video description, which is that the text information written to the screen must be made accessible because of its value in emergencies and its news worthiness, but that we would prefer for the television industry to offer described television voluntarily; and

WHEREAS, the Federation has negotiated with Senator McCain’s office to strengthen the provision that requires the FCC to convene a proceeding relating to the voicing of text information written to the screen with only minimal results; and

WHEREAS, staff in Senator McCain’s office express concerns about getting support of Congress to mandate the voicing of information displayed on the screen while at the same time showing no apparent concern for mandating the overturning of a federal court opinion; and

WHEREAS, the National Federation of the Blind would support this legislation if it put in place a procedure to assure that information written to the screen would be made accessible through speech, which is a significant compromise when we have always opposed mandating that television broadcasters be forced to offer described television: NOW, THEREFORE,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Arizona in Convention assembled this eleventh day of September, 2005, in the City of Phoenix, Arizona, that this organization actively oppose H.R. 951, and S. 900 unless these bills are amended to require a process that will lead to the voicing of text printed to the screen; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization negotiate to improve this legislation in order that we need not oppose it.

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