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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

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Telecommunications Policy

NEW! H.R. 3101: The Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act

Update! H.R. 3101 Approved by the House Energy & Commerce Committee; the House is expected to take up the bill on Monday, July 26, the 20th anniversary of ADA. Read the full statement.

If signed into law, The Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (H.R. 3101) would ensure that individuals with vision or hearing loss, and other disabilities, can fully use broadband services and equipment and better access video programming devices such as remote controls, menus on DVD players, and more. H.R. 3101 currently faces some opposition from the technology industry, who have successfully lobbied to amend or remove key provisions from the bill. Find out more about the bill and what you can do to help:

Section 255

In 1996, Section 255 was added to U.S. telecommunications law to require companies who make telephones and those who provide telephone service (including wireless phones and service) to design their products and services to be accessible to people with disabilities, if it is readily achievable to do so. Section 255 applies to all telephone equipment and services at home, at work, and on the go.

The FCC's rules cover basic and special telecommunications services, including regular telephone calls, call waiting, speed dialing, call forwarding, computer-provided directory assistance, call monitoring, caller identification, call tracing, and repeat dialing. In addition, the rules cover interactive voice response (IVR) systems and voice mail. IVR systems are phone systems that provide callers with menus of choices.

The Internet and electronic mail are not currently covered under Section 255.

IP-Enabled Services (Voice over Internet Protocol--VOIP)

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a technology that allows you to make voice calls using a broadband Internet connection instead of a regular (or analog) phone line. The FCC has determined that interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) providers must comply with Section 255.

Choose links on this page for information on Section 255, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), and other telecommunications issues.

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