The act, a draft of which was first introduced by Congressman Ed Markey of Massachusetts in 2008, was passed by the House of Representatives with an overwhelming majority on 29 September.
Among the act’s provisions are the following requirements:
- All captioned TV programs will be captioned when delivered over the Internet.
- The top 4 network channels and top 5 cable channels will provide audio description (AD) on 7 hours of programming per week.
- Televised emergency information will be accessible to the blind and vision impaired.
- Receiving devices of any size will be capable of displaying closed captions, delivering AD, and accessing emergency information.
- Controls on televisions and set-top boxes will be accessible, and captions and AD easy to access.
The act will have far-reaching effects in the US, particularly in the provision of AD and access to online video material. Its scope sets new benchmarks for access legislation, and it is hoped that some of the technical developments it encourages will also filter through to other countries including Australia.
There is further information about existing access legislation in both Australia and overseas on the Media Access Australia website.
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