Yesterday, the FCC’s video-description rules pursuant to the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act went into effect. Video description is audio-narrated descriptions of a television program’s key visual elements inserted into natural pauses in a program’s audio soundtrack; this accessibility feature allows people who are blind and visually impaired to follow a program’s content during television segments that only have visual images. In addition, the agency’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau announced a new $10 million program to assist deaf-blind individuals with access to communications equipment, also under the same law. Notes Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, “Now, more than 21 million visually-impaired Americans will be able to access television programming with video description. This widens the range of news and entertainment options available to the visually impaired and helps facilitate full participation in 21st-century life. Today’s establishment of the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program is more proof positive that the good work continues.”…Consumer advocate MyWireless.org supports action by the House Judiciary Committee that resulted in a favorable mark-up and report out of committee the “Digital Goods and Services Tax Fairness Act” that would establish a "national framework" for how the growing digital marketplace should be fairly taxed by states and localities. Right now, there is no one blanket federal law regulating such taxes. The House bill has a bipartisan companion bill in the Senate.

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