ACTING CHAIRWOMAN MIGNON CLYBURN
Commemorating the 23rd Anniversary of the ADA with Implementation of the CVAA
Next Friday, July 26th, is the 23rd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act the
landmark legislation that has transformed the lives of our family, friends, and neighbors with
disabilities. For more than 50 million Americans, the ADA has opened the doors of opportunity
to education, employment, and entertainment, as well as communication, community, civic
action, and access. This law impacts all of us, by better enabling our relatives and colleagues
with disabilities to more fully participate in a non-discriminatory way.
Today, in commemoration, we focus on what could be called the "sister" to the ADA
the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act. The FCC has been
moving aggressively to implement the CVAA, enacted right after the 20th anniversary of the
ADA, and I am proud to report that the Commission has hit every single key deadline set by the
Many wonderful things can be said about the CVAA, but perhaps most important to me,
is that this is a forward thinking law. Rather than view the accessibility needs of people with
disabilities as an afterthought in the design of new products and services, this law makes sure
that these obligations are considered from the very beginning
of design. Building tomorrow's
devices for all not just some is not only the law, it's the right thing to do.
Thanks to the CVAA, people with disabilities now have more access to telephones, television,
the Internet, and new applications and services. High-speed Internet and mobile technologies
offer an unprecedented opportunity to enhance the independence, productivity, and overall
quality of life for all of us, including people with disabilities but only if they are accessible.
And the CVAA is making this happen. I wish to express my sincere appreciation to the
champions of this legislation in Congress, Senator Mark Pryor and Senator Ed Markey, for
making this law a reality.
When Congress passed the baton to us to implement the CVAA, we ran with it. We met
some very tight deadlines over the past three years, and these were only possible through the
perseverance and commitment of an incredible staff in virtually every bureau and office in the
Commission. I wish to thank the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, the Media
Bureau, the Wireless Bureau, the Office of General Counsel, the Enforcement Bureau and others
for your leadership and guidance.
I want to express my deep appreciation for the enthusiasm and participation of those who
played a role in making sure that we stayed on our toes, in getting done what needed to be done.
And my gratitude extends to those Commissioners, past and present, for helping to advance this
most important of causes.
And finally, these expressions would not be complete if I failed to acknowledge Karen Peltz
Strauss, one of government's greatest champions. Her watchful eye, and listening ear, continue
to augment the lives of millions of Americans who will forever benefit from her amazing talents.
Thank you Karen, and to all of those hard-working individuals who have carried the baton on
Because of the work that Commission staff has done, 36 million Americans who are deaf
or have hearing loss, can watch television programs with closed captions, when those
programs are re-shown over the Internet; and use their cell phones, tablets and other
portable wireless devices, to watch these programs with captions.
25 million Americans who are blind or visually impaired, can enjoy TV programs with
video description; and will, over the next few years, be able to navigate a TV menu, send
an email or instant message on a smart phone, and have access to emergency information
Thousands of people who are deaf-blind can receive accessible communication devices
so they can make telephone calls and access the Internet, to work, learn, and shop, like
And because of the Commission's work, Americans with disabilities are able to locate
accessible communication products and services through the Commission's new
The CVAA has given us a unique opportunity to harness the power of new wireless, digital,
and broadband technologies and improve the lives of people with disabilities. As long as I am
able to serve, promoting greater accessibility in communications for people with disabilities will
remain a top policy priority.
So many people have been a part of this movement, including my colleagues here on the
bench, numerous outside parties, and our friends in the consumer electronics, communication
services, and video programming industries. But in particular, I'd like to acknowledge four
outstanding advocates who are here with us today: Claude Stout of Telecommunications for the
Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Andrew Phillips of the National Association of the Deaf, Mark
Richert of the American Foundation for the Blind, and Al Sonnenstrahl, a longstanding
champion of telecommunications access. They have helped move the ball down the field on
these and so many other issues, and I am eternally grateful for their passion and efforts.
I am equally thankful for the hardworking staff here at the FCC, whose names are now
displayed on the monitors, who have worked tirelessly to turn thought into action, and they
collectively occupy a special place in my heart. They embody the very best part of public
service, and the belief that the American government truly works for
the people. I commend
them, and I feel so lucky to be associated with them.