By All Means, Touch That Dial!

The FCC Wants to Know How You're Liking Described TV

Let AFB Help You Change Channels to Described TV's Next Episode

As part of its responsibilities to implement the historic Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA), the Federal Communications Commission is required to periodically report to Congress on the extent to which described TV is being successfully delivered and enjoyed. The FCC will use the conclusions drawn in its reports to Congress to form future action by the FCC to possibly expand the number of required hours of described TV programming and, potentially, with the authorization of the Congress, to require TV programming delivered via the Internet to be accompanied by description. While current law, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), arguably requires certain entities to offer captioning and description with their Internet-delivered TV programming, the CVAA was explicitly limited to traditional TV programming with respect to description and only requires captioning (and not description) for Internet-delivered TV programming.

Now, you have an opportunity to let the FCC know about your experiences trying to access and enjoy described TV. The FCC is currently accepting public comment on just about anything related to user experience with described TV. You are strongly encouraged to let the FCC know about any problems you are having locating and accessing described TV programming. You are also encouraged to communicate your successes with described TV and to urge the FCC to increase the number of hours of TV programming required to be described. If your cable or satellite provider cannot or will not provide you with description or cannot explain how you can get it, tell your story, and don't be afraid to name the company. Likewise, if your experience locating, turning on, and enjoying described TV is particularly positive, tell that story as well. In many ways, telling success stories about the delivery of described TV is just as important for the FCC to hear as it makes the case that described TV can work and needs to be expanded and enhanced.

Many advocates have been asking about extending the current described TV requirements to TV programming delivered via the Internet. While the FCC may not have the clearest jurisdiction currently to expand the described TV requirements to the Internet, the FCC is nevertheless asking for public comment on any and all issues related to description of Internet-delivered TV programming. Advocates are encouraged to let the FCC know how important description of Internet-delivered programming is to people who are blind or visually impaired.

AFB would once again like to help you file your comments. As in the past, your comments will be your own; AFB's name will not be on your comments. It is, however, very important that your comments include your full name and a physical mailing address so that the FCC knows that the comments they receive are originating from actual members of the public. We offer this service to our community because the FCC's electronic filing system is not the easiest or most accessible means for filing comments, and we hope that many will take us up on our invitation to help.

To offer comments, simply write an email of whatever length discussing your personal experiences with described TV. What successes have you had? What frustrations have you had? Do you want more described TV? Do you want description for programming you access online? Then, be sure to include your full name and a physical mailing address in the body of your message. Send your comments to:

Please send your comments to us no later than noon on Monday, September 30. All comments are due into the FCC later that week, and we will need time to handle the hopefully large numbers of comments we will process on your behalf. Thank you!

For further information, contact:

Mark Richert, Esq.
Director, Public Policy, AFB
(202) 469-6833