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July 2, 2010Dear Kathy,
H.R. 3101 Takes a Step Forward and Leaves People who are Deaf-Blind Behind
On June 30, 2010, the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet considered the "Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act" (H.R. 3101). Rick Boucher (D-VA), chairman of the Subcommittee, offered an "Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute" (a new H.R. 3101) which replaced the original bill.
The new H.R. 3101 is missing an important provision funding for specialized communications equipment needed by people who are deaf-blind, such as refreshable Braille devices. That funding, up to $10 million per year, was not included in the new H.R. 3101. The Subcommittee voted favorably on the new H.R. 3101. The bill will be considered next by the full Committee on Energy and Commerce.
Possible funding sources, for up to $10 million per year, include the Universal Service Fund and the Interstate Telecommunications Relay Service Fund. These funds were created to ensure that all Americans have access to the nation's communications network.
Deaf-blind people cannot afford to buy expensive equipment to help them access the phone and Internet. For example, the Deaf-Blind Communicator, which enables deaf-blind people to make telephone calls, access the Internet and communicate with other people who otherwise could not communicate with them, costs $8,000 alone.
Although a few states have equipment distribution programs, most do not distribute equipment that meets the needs of people who are deaf-blind. A secure and consistent source of funding is needed to assure that the communication needs of this small, discrete, and un-served population are met. This community does not have the political presence to ensure annual appropriations from Congress.
By restoring Section 105(b) to H.R. 3101, you will ensure that approximately 70,000 deaf-blind people get the specialized equipment needed for them to have telecommunications services, Internet access, and advanced communications.
Contact House Energy and Commerce Committee members and tell them you want Section 105 (b) back in H.R. 3101.
Here's what you can do:
Call them today! Or deaf-blind people will be further, further and further behind!
House Energy and Commerce Committee (in alphabetical order by State)
Parker Griffith (R-AL-5)
Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA-14)
George Radanovich (R-CA-19)
Henry Waxman, Chair (D-CA-30)
Mary Bono Mack (R-CA-45)
Christopher S. Murphy (D-CT-5)
Cliff Stearns (R-FL-6)
John Shimkus (R-IL-19)
Baron P. Hill (D-IN-9)
Charlie Melancon (D-LA-3)
Bart Stupak (D-MI-1)
Fred Upton (R-MI-6)
Mike Rogers (R-MI-8)
Roy Blunt, Deputy Ranking Member (R-MO-7)
Lee Terry (R-NE-2)
G. K. Butterfield (D-NC-1)
Robert E. Latta (R-OH-5)
Zachary T. Space (D-OH-18)
Bart Gordon (D-TN-6)
Marsha Blackburn (R-TN-7)
Joe Barton, Ranking Member (R-TX-6)
Rick Boucher (D-VA-9)
Peter Welch (D-VT-AL)
Thank you for your support!
American Association of the Deaf-Blind © 2010 All rights reserved.