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Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology

For Immediate Release

Contacts:

Rosaline Crawford (NAD) 301-587-7730

Karen Peltz Strauss (COAT) 202-363-1263

Jenifer Simpson (AAPD) 202-457-0046

Eric Bridges (ACB) 202-467-5081

 

COAT CALLS FOR DELAY IN DIGITAL TV TRANSITION

National Coalition Reports Significant Accessibility Problems for People with Disabilities

Washington, D.C., January 16, 2009. The Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology (COAT), the nation’s largest disability coalition focused on accessible technology for people with disabilities, supports a delay in the digital television (DTV) transition date and calls on the U.S. Congress for assistance.

“As the February date for the DTV transition approaches, a myriad of technical problems continue to surface for people with disabilities,” says Karen Peltz Strauss, a founding and steering committee member of COAT. “These include problems with receiving and displaying closed captions, difficulties with the pass through of available video description (narration added to visual program elements during natural programming pauses), and troubles with the hook-up of digital equipment. Consumers have experienced frustration in their attempts to obtain resolution of these issues from TV programming providers, equipment manufacturers and retailers.”

“Our members report missing and disappearing captions, overlapping captions, captions appearing in the middle of the television screen and blocking images, garbled captions, captions running off the edge of the picture, and captions either exceedingly small or too large,” says Rosaline Crawford of the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), also on the COAT steering committee. “We are very concerned that the analog cut-off scheduled for February 17 will result in members of our community completely losing access to television news, information, and entertainment programming for an indefinite period of time.”

Eric Bridges of the American Council of the Blind (ACB) adds: “People who are blind or with vision disabilities are experiencing huge difficulties, not only with hooking up the converter boxes but also serious problems with new digital TV equipment that is not passing through any available video description. The lack of knowledge about how to resolve video description concerns is a major barrier to our community’s access to digital television.”

“With all of these problems, what’s needed is more time and the creation of a dedicated nationwide team of subject matter experts and engineers who should be tasked with identifying and implementing technical solutions for all of these accessibility concerns,” says Jenifer Simpson of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), co-founder of COAT. “We call on the U.S. Congress to set aside DTV transition funds for this very purpose – to ensure access to digital television by people with disabilities as part of the digital TV transition.”

According to COAT, these problems may be caused by any one of a combination of technical failures, including difficulties with local broadcast station signals or transmissions, cable network or provider transmissions, satellite transmission signals, poor adjustment of end user consumer equipment provided by cable or satellite companies, and/or improper encoding and transmission by caption providers. Consumers are unable to determine the causes of these many technical problems on their own, and typically don’t know who to turn to because there has been no coordinated response by any federal or industry entity. We now look to Congress to take a leadership role in resolving these problems.

 

 

About COAT:  The Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology, or COAT, founded in March 2007, is a coalition of over 220 organizations that advocates for legislative and regulatory safeguards that will ensure full access by people with disabilities to evolving high speed broadband, wireless and other Internet protocol (IP) technologies.  COAT is dedicated to making sure that as the nation migrates from legacy telecommunications to more versatile and innovative IP-based and other communication technologies, people with disabilities will benefit like everyone else.  Support for COAT’s agenda includes International Friends of COAT, who recognize that the U.S. agenda on disability access often benefits the more than 650 million people with disabilities worldwide. More information about COAT is available at http://www.coataccess.org or by e-mail at info@coataccess.org.

 

 

 

 

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