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111th Congress 
 2d Session                      SENATE                          Report
                                                                111-386
_______________________________________________________________________
 
        TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY COMMUNICATIONS AND VIDEO ACCESSIBILITY 

                                ACT OF 2010 

                                 __________

                               R E P O R T

                                  of the 

           COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION

                                    on

                                 S. 3304



                                     

               December 22, 2010.--Ordered to be printed


       SENATE COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION
                     one hundred eleventh congress
                             second session

            JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER IV, West Virginia, Chairman
DANIEL K. INOUYE, Hawaii             KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON, Texas
JOHN F. KERRY, Massachusetts         OLYMPIA J. SNOWE, Maine
BYRON L. DORGAN, North Dakota        JOHN ENSIGN, Nevada
BARBARA BOXER, California            JIM DeMINT, South Carolina
BILL NELSON, Florida                 JOHN THUNE, South Dakota
MARIA CANTWELL, Washington           ROGER F. WICKER, Mississippi
FRANK R. LAUTENBERG, New Jersey      GEORGE S. LeMIEUX, Florida
MARK PRYOR, Arkansas                 JOHNNY ISAKSON, Georgia
CLAIRE McCASKILL, Missouri           DAVID VITTER, Louisiana
AMY KLOBUCHAR, Minnesota             SAM BROWNBACK, Kansas
TOM UDALL, New Mexico                MIKE JOHANNS, Nebraska
MARK WARNER, Virginia
MARK BEGICH, Alaska
                     Ellen Doneski, Staff Director
                   James Reid, Deputy Staff Director
                     Bruce Andrews, General Counsel
                 Ann Begeman, Republican Staff Director
              Brian Hendricks, Republican General Counsel
                Todd Bertoson, Republican Senior Counsel
111th Congress                                                   Report
                                 SENATE
 2d Session                                                     111-386

======================================================================



TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY COMMUNICATIONS AND VIDEO ACCESSIBILITY ACT OF 2010

                                _______
                                

               December 22, 2010.--Ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

     Mr. Rockefeller, from the Committee on Commerce, Science, and 
                Transportation, submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                         [To accompany S. 3304]

    The Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, to 
which was referred the bill (S. 3304), to ensure that 
individuals with disabilities have access to emerging Internet 
Protocol-based communication and video programming technologies 
in the 21st century, having considered the same, reports 
favorably thereon with an amendment (in the nature of a 
substitute) and recommends that the bill (as amended) do pass.

                          Purpose of the Bill

  The purpose of S. 3304 is to update the communications laws 
to help ensure that individuals with disabilities are able to 
fully utilize communications services and equipment and better 
access video programming.

                          Background and Needs

  Although Congress has previously acted to ensure access to 
communications devices by people with disabilities, these laws 
were last updated in 1996. Since that time, the communications 
marketplace has undergone a fundamental transformation, driven 
by growth in broadband. Internet-based and digital technologies 
are now pervasive, offering innovative and exciting ways to 
communicate and share information.
  Through increased mobility and the use of data, the benefits 
of modern technology have profoundly altered our everyday 
lives, streamlining tasks and allowing mobile access to the 
Internet and a diverse menu of applications and services. Smart 
phones, global positioning systems (GPS), and video 
conferencing are but a few of the many technologies that 
Americans rely on daily. Many of these advances have improved 
the communications capabilities of individuals with 
disabilities. Nevertheless, the extraordinary benefits of these 
technological advances are sometimes not accessible to 
individuals with disabilities.
  Various studies have found that people with disabilities 
suffer disproportionately higher rates of unemployment and 
poverty than those without disabilities. For example, in 2008, 
only 40 percent of working-age people with disabilities were 
employed, while almost 80 percent of those without disabilities 
were working.\1\ If certain current and emerging technologies 
are not accessible to the disabled community, this economic 
disparity may increase. Enhanced accessibility could help 
diminish this economic divide.
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    \1\ See, e.g., Cornell University, 2008 Disabilities Status Report-
United States, Rehabilitation and Training Center on Disability 
Demographics and Statistics, p.32 (online at http://
www.ilr.cornell.edu/edi/disabilitystatistics/).
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  Elderly Americans are also affected by this measure. The 
number of people over age 65 living in the United States is 
approximately 40 million, or 13 percent of the total 
population. One estimate shows that by 2050, that number is 
expected to increase to 88.5 million, or an estimated 20 
percent of the population.\2\ This growth may be accompanied by 
a jump in the number of Americans with vision and hearing 
impairments who will need accessible communications products 
and services.
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    \2\ United States Census Bureau, The Next Four Decades-The Older 
Population in the United States: 2010-2050 (May 2010) (online at 
www.census.gov/prod/2010pubs/p25-1138.pdf).
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  Access to communications devices and video programming is 
also important to American service members, especially those 
injured in Iraq and Afghanistan. Current studies indicate that 
13 percent of combat troops wounded in hostile operations 
sustain penetrating eye trauma resulting in vision impairment. 
Additionally, between 12 percent and 20 percent of deployed 
forces have traumatic brain injury (TBI), and 64 percent of 
service members who suffer TBI test positive for visual 
dysfunction.\3\ Finally, 58,000 veterans have reported ringing 
in their ears after returning from deployment to Iraq or 
Afghanistan, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs 
reports that hearing loss will affect 800,000 veterans by 
2011.\4\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \3\ Geoffrey Ling et al., Explosive Blast Neurotrauma, Journal of 
Neurotrauma (June 2009).
    \4\ Army Times, War is Hell-On Your Hearing (Apr. 24, 2010) (online 
at www.armytimes.com/news/2010/04/offduty