The Hill reports that Sen. John Kerry is holding a hearing next week for legislation that would improve accessibility for
the hearing and sight impaired people with disabilities.* The Equal Access to 21st Century Communications Act is sponsored by Sen. Kerry and Senator Mark Pryor:
The bill — pitched as a technological addendum to the Americans With Disabilities Act — is the two Democrats’ attempt to address accessibility problems that have long made it difficult for disabled persons to use new-media and technology tools.
The first draft of the legislation, which Pryor introduced earlier this year, would mandate that all smartphones — including the iPhone and BlackBerry — are compatible with most hearing aids.
The bill would also require DVRs and mp3 players to support closed captioning, as most TVs already do, and would authorize new money for a fund to expand broadband service to low-income, disabled persons.
Last month, the FCC released a report (PDF) that found only 42% of people with disabilities have high-speed Internet at home.
(* Thanks to Jim in the comments for the correction.)