National Association of the Deaf

Internet Access and Broadband



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Twenty-five years ago, few television shows or movies were captioned. Today, thanks to advancing technology and federal law, you can turn on the television and watch almost any show with captions. Also, thanks to improved technology and the volunteer efforts of movie studios and movie distributors, you can now buy or rent many movie DVDs with captions.

Increasingly, people are watching television shows and movies that are redistributed over the Internet. People can download these television shows and movies from the Internet and watch them on their computers or on playback devices like video iPods. However, almost none of these television shows and movies, even television shows and movies that were previously captioned, are captioned when redistributed over the Internet. Presently, only a fraction of the multimedia on the Internet must be captioned or otherwise made accessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

The NAD continues to advocate for increasing Internet captioning. The law is generally clear that government agencies must make their websites accessible. The law is less clear about business websites. Finally, the law does not require television shows and movies that are redistributed over the Internet to be captioned...not yet.

The NAD Law and Advocacy Center is seeking to make changes in the Communications Act to expand the television closed captioning rules to television program producers and distributors who distribute television programs or other video over the Internet.

The NAD also advocates for broadband Internet access to be available, affordable, and accessible to all Americans.

Recent NAD Action Highlights

  • Co-founded the Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology (COAT)
  • Assisted in the preparation of testimony for a U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet hearing on “Enhancing Access to Broadband Technology and Services for Persons with Disabilities.”
  • The “Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act” (H.R. 6320), which seeks to update the Communications Act to ensure access to Internet-based communication and video programming technologies, was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. Met with industry groups and congressional staff to discuss and seek support for H.R. 6320 and introduction in the U.S. Senate.
  • Continue to meet with various industry groups and congressional staff to discuss and seek support for the re-introduction of the "Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act" in the U.S. House of Representatives and introduction in the U.S. Senate.

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National Association of the Deaf | 8630 Fenton Street, Suite 820, Silver Spring, MD 20910-3819