Text: S.3473 — 116th Congress (2019-2020)All Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in Senate (03/12/2020)


116th CONGRESS
2d Session
S. 3473


To amend title 49, United States Code, to improve the accessibility of airline information and entertainment programming provided by air carriers on passenger flights, and for other purposes.


IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

March 12, 2020

Mr. Casey (for himself, Ms. Baldwin, Mr. Markey, Mr. Brown, Ms. Duckworth, and Mr. Blumenthal) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation


A BILL

To amend title 49, United States Code, to improve the accessibility of airline information and entertainment programming provided by air carriers on passenger flights, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. Short title.

This Act may be cited as the “Airline Information and Entertainment Access Act”.

SEC. 2. Accessibility of in-flight safety and entertainment programming.

(a) In general.—Subchapter I of chapter 417 of title 49, United States Code, is amended by inserting after section 41705 the following new section:

§ 41705a. Accessibility of in-flight airline information and entertainment programming

“(a) Requirement.—

“(1) PROGRAMMING.—On and after the date that is 180 days after the date of the enactment of the Airline Information and Entertainment Access Act, in providing air transportation, an air carrier, including (subject to section 40105(b)) any foreign air carrier, shall ensure that all visually displayed airline information and entertainment programming available to passengers on a flight is accessible to persons with disabilities, including by providing (or making available)—

“(A) open captioning and American Sign Language option for persons with disabilities when such programming is available to passengers through shared video displays, such as a monitor located in a passenger access aisle;

“(B) closed captioning and American Sign Language option for persons with disabilities when such programming is available to passengers through individual video displays;

“(C) video description for persons with disabilities when such programming is available to passengers through individual video displays or shared video displays; and

“(D) any aural PA announcement in textual format through individual video displays or shared video displays.

“(2) VIDEO DISPLAYS.—Not later than the effective date of the regulations prescribed under subsection (c)(2), in providing air transportation, an air carrier, including (subject to section 40105(b)) any foreign air carrier, shall ensure that all individual video displays of visually displayed airline information and entertainment programming to passengers on a flight that are operated primarily by using touchscreens or other contact-sensitive controls include a mechanism that allows persons with disabilities to nonvisually operate the displays in accordance with the standards prescribed under subsection (c).

“(b) Civil action.—

“(1) AGGRIEVED PERSONS.—

“(A) IN GENERAL.—Any person aggrieved by the violation by an air carrier of this section or a regulation prescribed under this section may, during the 2-year period beginning on the date of the violation, bring a civil action in an appropriate district court of the United States.

“(B) AVAILABLE RELIEF.—If a court finds in favor of the plaintiff in a civil action brought under subparagraph (A), the court may award to the plaintiff equitable and legal relief, including compensatory and punitive damages, and shall, in addition to any such relief, award reasonable attorney’s fees, reasonable expert fees, and cost of the action to the plaintiff.

“(C) NO REQUIREMENT TO EXHAUST ADMINISTRATIVE REMEDIES.—Any person aggrieved by the violation by an air carrier of this section or a regulation prescribed under this section shall not be required to exhaust administrative remedies before bringing a civil action under subparagraph (A).

“(D) RULE OF CONSTRUCTION.—Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to invalidate or limit other Federal or State laws affording to people with disabilities greater legal rights or protections than those granted by this section.

“(2) ENFORCEMENT BY ATTORNEY GENERAL.—

“(A) IN GENERAL.—The Attorney General may bring a civil action on behalf of persons aggrieved by the violation by an air carrier of this section or a regulation prescribed under this section in any appropriate district court of the United States.

“(B) AUTHORITY OF COURT.—In a civil action under subparagraph (A), the court may—

“(i) grant any equitable relief that the court considers to be appropriate;

“(ii) award such other relief as the court considers to be appropriate, including monetary damages to persons aggrieved by the violation by an air carrier of this section or a regulation prescribed under this section, when requested by the Attorney General; and

“(iii) assess a civil penalty against the air carrier.

“(c) Establishment of standards for operation of individual video displays.—

“(1) IN GENERAL.—Not later than 18 months after the date of the enactment of the Airline Information and Entertainment Access Act, the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board shall, in consultation with the Secretary of Transportation, prescribe standards in accordance with chapter 5 of title 5 (commonly known as the ‘Administrative Procedure Act’) setting forth the minimum technical criteria for individual video displays described in subsection (a)(2) to ensure that such video displays include a mechanism that allows persons with disabilities to operate the displays nonvisually.

“(2) REGULATIONS.—Not later than 180 days after the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board issues standards under paragraph (1), the Secretary shall prescribe such regulations as are necessary to implement those standards and shall publish those regulations in an accessible format.

“(3) REVIEW AND AMENDMENT.—The Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board, in consultation with the Secretary, shall periodically review and, as appropriate, amend the standards prescribed under paragraph (1) in accordance with chapter 5 of title 5. Not later than 180 days after the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board issues amended standards under this paragraph, the Secretary shall make such revisions to the regulations prescribed under paragraph (2) as are necessary to implement the amended standards.

“(d) Definitions.—In this section:

“(1) CLOSED CAPTIONING.—The term ‘closed captioning’ means a method, process, or mechanism, which may include a device, that—

“(A) allows an individual who is deaf or hard of hearing to have access to the content of visually displayed airline information and entertainment programming; and

“(B) allows that access by displaying, through an individual device or individually used technology, all of the audio portion of the programming (including displaying the dialogue and any narration, as well as descriptions of on- and off-screen sounds such as sound effects, music, or lyrics for music, and information identifying the character who is speaking) as text that can be effectively viewed and controlled by that individual while the individual simultaneously watches the programming.

“(2) PERSON WITH A DISABILITY.—The term ‘person with a disability’ means any person who has a disability as defined in section 3 of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. 12102), including a person with a sensory disability.

“(3) OPEN CAPTIONING.—The term ‘open captioning’ means a method, process, or mechanism that—

“(A) allows an individual who is deaf or hard of hearing to have access to the content of visually displayed airline information and entertainment programming; and

“(B) allows that access by openly displaying on the video display on which the programming is displayed all of the audio portion of the programming (including displaying the dialogue and any narration, as well as descriptions of on- and off-screen sounds such as sound effects, music, or lyrics for music, and information identifying the character who is speaking) as text that can be effectively viewed by that individual and other passengers while the individual and passengers simultaneously watch the programming.

“(4) VIDEO DESCRIPTION.—The term ‘video description’ means a method, process, or mechanism, including a device, that—

“(A) allows an individual who is blind or visually impaired to have access to the key visual elements of visually displayed airline information and entertainment programming (such as actions, settings, facial expressions, costumes, and scene changes); and

“(B) allows that access through the provision of contemporaneous audio narrated descriptions of those elements during the natural pauses in the audio portion of the programming, or during the audio portion if necessary.

“(5) VISUALLY DISPLAYED AIRLINE INFORMATION AND ENTERTAINMENT PROGRAMMING.—The term ‘visually displayed airline information and entertaining programming’ means pre-flight safety briefing videos, live televised events, recorded programming (including television programs), or motion pictures that are available to passengers, for a fee or without cost, on a flight in air transportation.”.

(b) Clerical amendment.—The analysis for chapter 417 of title 49, United States Code, is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 41705 the following:


“41705a. Accessibility of in-flight airline information and entertainment programming.”.


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