Below, please find a copy of a letter I sent to my representative requesting
him to sign on as a co-sponsor of H.R.3101. Please read this and let it
inspire you to write your own letter on this important legislation.
=====start letter text=====
August 7, 2009
Honorable Representative Peter Roskam
c/o Mark Skerjan, Legislative Assistant
507 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
To Honorable Representative Roskam:
I am writing to ask That you sign on as a co-sponsor of HR3101, "The 21st
Century Telecommunications and Video Accessibility Act." This legislation,
which has been drafted by the Coalition of Organizations for Accessible
Technology (COAT) and introduced by Representative Edward Marke (D-MA) is
needed so that people like me who are blind or visually impaired will not be
left behind as developments in technology advance.
This legislation will insure that telecommunications devicess are fully
hearing aid compatible. Both my wife and my father wear hearing aids. They
should be able to freely select whatever telecommunications device, such as
a cell phone they want without fear that it will either not work with their
hearing aids, or require that they spend extra money to buy a kneck loop
just so it will work. My father has to take his hearing aid out just to use
his current cell phone. That should not be. HR3101 will help change that.
This legislation will restore the modest requirements for the provision of
video description and give the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
authority to promulgate rules to both implement this on network television
and require that programming with description carried over to the internet
takes the description with it. Video description, in which a narrator
describes the visual elements of a television program or movie has made it
much easier for me to enjoy movies. With it, I can watch a television
program or movie and not have to bother someone watching it with me to
describe what is happening.
HR3101 also requires that there be non-visual access to emergency
information. This means that if I am watching football on tv, for example,
and a tornado warning is issued for my area, I don't have to go to a radio
or find someone to know what is going on. Seconds count in an emergency and
I would much rather find out that there is a tornado bearing down on my home
from the tv than when it hits.
HR3101 will require that communications devices be made accessible. While I
do use a cell phone that gives me complete access to such features as call
history, text messaging, e-mail and GPS information, I had to pay a total of
over $1,000 above the cost of the pfone to get this access. Apple has
proven, with its most recent release of the iPhone that accessibility can be
built in off the shelf. When a user activates an iPhone, if they need it,
they can have all of the features either talk or be displayed in large
letters. HR3101 will encourage other companies to follow Apple's lead.
The importance of text messaging access was brought home to me in the fall
of 2008. DePaul University, where I attend school part time was affected by
a gas leak. Thanks to having access to text messaging, I was able to
quickly learn about this situation and react accordingly. As we work to
improve our nation's emergency preparedness, text messaging will become even
more essential for everyone.
HR3101 will allocate up to $10 million annually from the universal Service
Fund, into which we all pay for essential, but costly telecommunications
equipment for individuals who are deaf-blind. A woman I am acquainted with
recently received a piece of this kind of equipment and said because of it,
she was able to make a phone call, something we all take for granted, for
the first time in eight years. This woman was fortunate. Providing this
kind of basic telecommunications access to this population will decrease
isolation and expand opportunities for employment, education and social
Finally, HR3101 will seek to standardize real time text messaging. This
will mean that services like AOL Instant Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, iChat
and others will be standardized so that users can communicate across these
services. Right now, that is not the case. If I use AIM and want to
instant message with someone using Yahoo Messenger, I cannot do that because
these services cannot talk to each other. Many in the deaf and deaf-blind
communications depend on instant messaging for all or part of their
communication needs. Again, by standardizing these services, we can
increase opportunities for employment, education and other things.
These are just a few of the reasons it is essential that you sign onto
HR3101 as a co-sponsor and do all you can to see that it is passed by the
House of Representatives. Thank you in advance for your time, and
hopefully, actions to sign onto this legislation. I will be watching what
happens very closely and contact you as necessary. Your strong
consideration is appreciated.
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