The Case for H.R. 3101

It is the year of 2020, you are walking with your friend who says, “Look at the news, man…can you believe that!?” You suddenly become curious to know what is going on. Your friend is shocked and watching the news on his mobile phone. You ask your friend what the newscaster is saying. Unfortunately, there is no captioning.  Guess what, you have to rely on him to give you the news.

This mobile technology is not very far ahead and take CNN Mobile for example, which pushes VOD (video on demand) to an iPhone (other cell phones can be enabled as well). Currently, CNN Mobile does not offer captioning because there is no FCC mandate that says otherwise. You have Netflix which says that the technology is not possible (read the excerpt here) and you have iTunes which continues to lag behind in providing access to the Deaf/Hard of Hearing. Then there is Hulu which is currently the ‘Gold Standard’ in providing captioning access via digital streaming. although Hulu does not offer 100% captioning access to all shows. Click here to read the story about how Hulu came to provide captioning.

There are over 30 million Deaf and Hard of Hearing people in the United States. The potential for the market is huge and whoever captures the market has an advantage. That advantage currently goes to Hulu, only if Hulu was able to find a way to stream digital media to cell phones with captioning, it would be “winner takes all.” However…what remains to be seen is what the other competitors will offer on the table in the near future.

The only problem is that those competitors like CNN.com, iTunes, and Netflix are not required to provide captioning access anytime now. They have nothing to worry about and the only thing they have to worry about is whom ever provides the best or the most content. Never mind the 30 million Deaf and Hard of Hearing people who are waiting for the access to have captioning.

Our time is now and we have the potential to encourage the legislation to approve the bill, H.R. Bill 3101 (read HR 3101) that requires media providers to provide captioning access through digital streaming. In summary, the H.R. 3101 is to ensure that individuals with disabilities have access to emerging Internet-Protocol based communication and video programming technologies in the 21st century. There are at least 6 co-sponsors and 95 companies supporting the bill (source). We cannot afford to sit on the sidelines and wait for things to magically appear and fall in place. We have come a long way in making big changes from the man going to the moon, First Black President of the United States, and the original Deaf President Now march. Anything is possible and that is why we, the Deaf and Hard of Hearing people, need your voice to be heard all the way to Washington D.C. Write a letter to your Congressman, Tweet your Congressman, contact your House of Representative and Senate to bring the fight to the very core of the issue.

The issue is to provide access to digital streaming captioning to those 30 million Deaf and Hard of Hearing people in the United States and to liberate the Deaf and Hard of Hearing people from the dependency of others.

To read more about who is backing H.R. 3101, go to the coataccess.org website.
To find out more information on how to contact your representative, go to Deaf Network website.

About Bradley Porche

Bradley Porche is a High School Teacher for the Deaf at Clear Creek ISD. He is also a professor at Houston Community College and a Deaf Activist. You can see his website at http://porchedaily.typepad.com/porche-daily/ or follow him on Twitter @porcheb .

7 responses to “The Case for H.R. 3101”

  1. Julie R. says:

    Yep, I agree with you!

    Would love to see live captions on CNN Mobile on my iPhone! I thought it was strange when I added the app to the iPhone and it was all videos with no captions.

    Good article, Mr. Porche!

  2. Longster says:

    Just retweeted your article through twitter. Hope this article will get their heads turned. Is there such technology that can automatically translate language from voice to text? I remember hearing about RIT/NTID doing something like that… sort of an effort to substitute note takers to support deaf/hard of hearing students. That would definitely be a worthy investment. Anyway, 30 million deaf/hard of hearing people in the US? Suddenly, I don’t see us as a minority group and be ignored.

  3. Julie Mugler says:

    this bill is never going to become law unless everyone writes letters, makes phone calls and visits their Congresspeople and doesn’t think someone else is going to do it for them.
    TEMPLATE letter is at
    http://www.coataccess.org/node/4011#comment-409

    Especially, write to Rep. Rick Boucher (VA) who is holding the bill up. His address is U.S. Congress, Room 2187 Rayburn, Washington, DC 20515. Send it by fax for faster handling to 202-225-0442. Tell him to move HR 3101 today!

  4. Aaron Fontaine says:

    Please call Rep. Rick Boucher to move the HR Bill 3101! @ 202-225-3861 or fax him at 202-225-0442 also write/call your Congressmen!

    It only takes a minute to at least call him which is not hard to do. The more people contacting him the better chance we could get. I’ve already contacted him and I encourage everybody to call and help unblock the bill.

    Thanks!

  5. Jamie says:

    In addition to writing/tweeting your Congressperson, consider joining Caption Action 2! We are at http://www.causes.com/captionaction2 on Facebook. Our blog is at http://captionaction2.blogspot.com. Caption Action 2 has been to Capitol Hill to visit representatives’ offices. Yesterday was on the Hill and stopped in Rick Boucher’s office. The person to email in Rick Boucher’s office is Chris Davis, chris.davis@mail.house.gov. The bill now has 10 cosponsors! Caption Action 2 reported this news yesterday on the blog.

  6. This is great news regarding the co-sponsors! Keep up the fight people! This is result in action.

  7. Wilsonk says:

    Now, I am wondering on how many complaints who sent a letter to the Congressman. If there’s bigger number of complaints, then we can keep it coming to make it happen quickly.

    Brad, thanks for the input! 🙂

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