Last week, I was honored to represent the Federal Communications Commission at the White House’s observation of the Americans with Disabilities Act’s (ADA) 22nd anniversary. Kareem Dale, the Special Advisor to the President on Disabilities Issues, opened the event, and Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President, gave closing remarks.
Joining a panel of 4 other administration officials, I had the opportunity to speak on the many ways in which the Commission has successfully implemented the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA), signed by President Obama in October 2010. The CVAA requires access by people with disabilities to emerging Internet-based and digital communications and video programming technologies. Like the ADA, it seeks to ensure that people with disabilities can be fully independent and productive members of our society.
My remarks at the event highlighted 4 areas of accomplishment by the Commission:
- Adoption of rules (in April 2011) and the launching (on July 1, 2012) of the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program, which sets aside $10 million annually from the Telecommunications Relay Service Fund for the nationwide distribution of communications equipment to low income people who are deaf-blind.
- Adoption of rules (in August 2011) requiring video description to be provided on approximately 4 hours of prime time or children’s television programming each week by local TV station affiliates of ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC in the top 25 TV markets, as well as on the top 5 non-broadcast networks, i.e., Disney, Nickelodeon, TBS, TNT, and USA. These rules went into effect on July 1, 2012.
- Adoption of rules (in October 2011) requiring advanced communications services (such as e-mail, instant messaging, and VoIP communications services) and the products used with those services to be accessible to people with disabilities. These rules go into effect in October of 2013.
- Adoption of rules (in January 2012) that require closed captioned television programs to retain those captions when these are re-shown via Internet protocol. The implementation schedule for these rules begins September 30, 2012.
Audience members included staff from various federal agencies, and the event was webcast live.
To see the Presidential Proclamation on this year’s anniversary of the ADA, go to http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/07/26/presidential-proclamation-anniversary-americans-disabilities-act-2012 
The Commission joins the White House in celebrating the progress that the ADA and other nondiscrimination laws have made in creating new opportunities for people with disabilities to have access to, among other things, jobs, health care, communication, education, and transportation.