COMMISSIONER JESSICA ROSENWORCEL
Update on the Implementation of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video
, Presentation (July 19, 2013)
Twenty-three years ago the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law. Upon
signing, President George H.W. Bush famously said: "Let the shameful walls of exclusion finally
come tumbling down." Well put. After all, this was a phenomenal piece of civil rights
legislation. It laid the foundation for the meaningful inclusion of 54 million Americans with
disabilities in our modern civic and economic life.
Three years ago, I had the privilege to join President Barack Obama at the White House
when the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act was signed into
law. Just as two decades earlier the Americans with Disabilities Act tore down walls, this new
law pried open doors of opportunity and access for the Internet era.
I had the honor of working with Senator Mark Pryor and others on this historic
legislation. A signed copy of the final law hangs on my wall, right by the entry to my office. I
will always be proud that I had the opportunity to play a small role in its passage.
But I am even prouder of the Commission. This agency has done yeoman's work
implementing the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act. This is a
law with many twists and turns. Advisory committees, clearinghouses, distribution programs,
captioning obligations, description duties, interfaces, guides, menus--there is a lot to tackle. But
across our many Bureaus and Offices, the goal has been simple: putting policies in place that
will extend opportunity and access in the digital age. That's a goal worth fighting for.
Like the Americans with Disabilities Act before it, the Twenty-First Century
Communications and Video Accessibility Act is destined for the history books. So thank you to
the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, Media
Bureau, and Office of General Counsel for your work to date. Thank you also to the consumer
electronics industry, telecommunications companies, and providers and distributors of video
programming for your efforts. Finally, we would not be celebrating our success without the
tireless advocacy of the many champions of Americans with disabilities who fought for this law
and pressed for its just implementation.