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Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology ________________________________________


                                                                        Rosaline Crawford (NAD) 301-587-7730  

                                                                        Karen Peltz Strauss (CSD) 202-363-1263

                                                                        Jenifer Simpson (AAPD) (202) 457-0046        

                                                                        Eric Bridges (ACB) (202)-467-5081

                                                                        Adrianna Montague-Gray (AFB) (212) 502-7675


Celebrity & Hero Witnesses Support Equal Access

To Communications and Video Technologies


To Provide Critical Testimony Today


Washington, D.C., Thursday, May 1, 2008 – The Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology (COAT) is pleased to announce that celebrity and hero witnesses will testify at a House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet hearing on draft legislation, “Enhancing Access to Broadband Technology and Services for Persons with Disabilities.” 


These witnesses include:  Jamaal Anderson, defensive end and 2007 first round draft pick of the NFL Atlanta Falcons whose father is a leading deaf educator and former board member of Gallaudet University; Russell Harvard, a deaf Hollywood actor appearing in the double-academy award winning movie “There Will Be Blood”; and Sergeant Major Jesse Acosta, a distinguished army veteran whose vision was seriously injured in Iraq.

The three witnesses will testify to the need for passage of legislation to ensure that, as our nation migrates from legacy telephone and television products to more versatile and innovative digital and Internet-based communications and video programming, people with disabilities must benefit like everyone else.  In addition to generally requiring access to Internet-based communications services for people with disabilities, legislative action is needed to achieve the following:


  • Extend the closed captioning mandates to certain Internet-based video programming;
  • Require video devices with screens smaller than 13-inches to display captioning;
  • Mandate video description on television so people who are blind can have access to program content and visual emergency information;
  • Require accessible user interfaces/menus on video programming devices such as TVs, VCRs, and DVR players;
  • Mandate hearing aid compatibility on “Smart” or Internet-enabled phones;
  • Allow eligible consumers with disabilities who must use broadband for phone calls to apply their Universal Service Fund (USF) discounts to high speed Internet service;  and
  • Allocate USF funds for the distribution of specialized equipment needed to provide telecommunications access for individuals who are deaf-blind.


The Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology, or COAT, has nearly 200 national, regional, state, and community-based affiliates. More information at http://www.coataccess.org.




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