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The 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010


[Library for the Blind, Braille reading], Digital ID 1252831, New York Public LibraryReading BrailleThe Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was designed to level the playing field for individuals with disabilities by ending illegal discrimination and providing reasonable accommodations to balance the needs of those individuals and employers, providers of products and services, and setting minimum standards for a range of services and products from building design and construction to telecommunication devices.

Though ADA has increased accessibility, there is still much to be done to make new technology accessible. When the ADA was signed in 1990, the Internet did not exist as it does today. After many years of hard work by disability-rights advocates, President Obama signed into law the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act. The legislation requires smart phones, television programs, cable TV program guides, and other modern communications technologies to be accessible to people with vision or hearing loss.

From the American Foundation from the Blind press release

"This law is life-changing for the millions of us with disabilities who are too often unable to take advantage of new technologies," said Paul Schroeder, Vice President of Programs & Policy at the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB). "It opens the door to the digital age, and gives Americans with visual or hearing impairments equal access to smart phones, emergency broadcast information, the menus and controls on televisions and cable TV guides, and much more."

The legislation:

  • Mandates mobile phone companies to make web browsers, text messaging, and e-mail on smart phones fully accessible.
  • Restores and expands requirements for video description of television programs, in addition to requiring cable companies to make their program guides and selection menus accessible to people with vision loss.
  • Ensures people with vision loss have access to emergency broadcast information.
  • Provides $10 million in funding each year for assistive technology for deaf-blind individuals.
  • Ensures that Internet-enabled mobile phones are hearing aid compatible.

Reading List

"New Law Makes Technology More Usable for Americans with Vision Loss and other Disabilities," Disabled World, 2010.

Full details and timetable are available at the Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology (COAT) website.

The Illustrated Guide to Assistive Technology and Devices: Tools and Gadgets for Living Independently by Suzanne Robitaille, 2010, DB 70279

Americans with Disabilities: Exploring Implications of the Law for Individuals and Institutions by Leslie Francis, 2000, BR 12996 (7 volumes), DB 51493 (Download Only from BARD). [NYPL]

Disabled Rights: American Disability Policy and the Fight for Equality by Jacqueline Vaughn Switzer, 2003, BR 14882 (4 volumes), RC 56788, DB 56788 (Download Only from BARD).  [NYPL]

The Ugly Laws: Disability in Public by Susan M. Schweik, 2009, BR 18268 (5 volumes), DB 69157.

Written with Dana Simon, Senior Librarian


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The advocacy of the ADA is very noble.

Via Inquiry for $10M Funds

Hi, I would like to inquire for more information on the 21st Communication & Video-Accessibility's $10M funds. Who's the primary source for this federal fund? What are the requirements to obtain assistive technologies indicated for this new communication access law? Please provide me with the contact name(s)and numbers to seek more information on submission requested. This is an ultimately opportunity for people with disabilities like myself. I can be reached through via email or you can phone me directly to a video-numbers at 1.866.639.1439. I look forward to hearing more good resolution step forward on this new venture funds. Best Regards, Ginger Advocate for People with Disabilities NYC/CT/MA Regions

Answer to Funding Question

Hi, This is all the information we have right now. I hope it helps. We believe you're referring to section 105 of the act: • Allocates up to $10 million per year from the Interstate Relay Service Fund for equipment used by individuals who are deaf-blind According to the link below, the FCC's timetable to implement this section is the 2nd quarter of 2011. Keep checking or contact the American Association of the Deaf-Blind at

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