TLPC Advocates Before the FCC for Equal Access to Communications and Video Programming

(by Dakotah Hamilton, TLPC Student Attorney)

On June 7th, the TLPC and the Communications and Technology Law Clinic (CTLC) at Georgetown Law filed a comment on behalf of 22 accessibility advocacy and research organizations, including TLPC and CTLC client Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. (TDI), in response to the Federal Communications Commission’s public notice to revisit many of its rules under the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA). The comment, drafted by Professor Blake E. Reid, TLPC Director, and Professor Laura Moy, CTLC Director, with assistance from TLPC student attorneys Dakotah Hamilton, Rachel Hersch, and Scott Goodstein and CTLC staff attorney Michael Rosenbloom and student attorney Ellen Gardiner, comprehensively reviewed the past decade of FCC proceedings implementing the CVAA as well as some dating back to the Telecommunications Act of 1996, spanning more than two dozen dockets.

The comment identifies numorous specific priorities the FCC should consider for the accessibility of video programming, communications, and hearing device accessibility, including bolstering the availability of interpretation and captioning for video conferencing platforms and expanding captioning requirements for video distributed online. The comment also calls for dedicated inquiries into accessibility barriers facing people who are deaf or hard of hearing and have multiple disabilities, older people who are deaf or hard of hearing, and people who are deaf or hard of hearing and living on rural or tribal lands or in U.S. territories. The comment also urges the Commission to emphasize supervised multistakeholderism, centering the civil rights of people with disabilities, vigorous enforcement, and reporting to Congress.

TLPC Advocates for Expansion of Video Accessibility Exemption to Section 1201 of the DMCA

(by Scott Goodstein, Colorado Law 3L)

On April 5, 2021, the TLPC—on behalf of the Association of Transcribers and Speech-to-Text Providers (ATSP), along with ATSP’s past president Jason Kapcala and Jonathan Band of the Library Copyright Alliance (LCA), presented at the Eighth Triennial Section 1201 Rulemaking Hearing in support of the Proposed Class 3 exemption to the anti-circumvention provisions of Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Section 1201 prohibits users from circumventing technological protective measures (TPMs) that control access to copyrighted works, but allows them to apply for and receive temporary exemptions for a variety of noninfringing uses. The petition for the Proposed Class 3 exemption was filed on behalf of ATSP and in partnership with the Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) and the LCA.

Continue reading “TLPC Advocates for Expansion of Video Accessibility Exemption to Section 1201 of the DMCA”

TLPC Advocates for Expansion of E-Book Accessibility Exemption to Section 1201 of the DMCA

On April 5, 2021, the TLPC, on behalf of the American Council of the Blind (ACB) and a coalition of other organizations, appeared at a hearing before the U.S. Copyright Office to urge expansion of an existing exemption from the the anticircumvention measures of Section of 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) that allows the remediation of e-books into accessible formats. The expansions were designed to help the U.S. fulfill its obligations under the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons who are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled. The public hearing was one of the final stages in the eighth triennial rulemaking proceeding under Section 1201, which provides that the Librarian of Congress, upon the recommendation of the Register of Copyrights, may adopt temporary exemptions to section 1201’s prohibition against circumvention of technological measures that control access to copyrighted works.

Continue reading “TLPC Advocates for Expansion of E-Book Accessibility Exemption to Section 1201 of the DMCA”

TLPC Advocates for Broad Accessibility Exemption to Section 1201 of the DMCA

(by Rachel Hersch, Colorado Law 2L)

On April 5, 2021, the TLPC, on behalf of its client the American Council for the Blind (ACB), and joined by a broad coalition of disability organizations, appeared at a hearing before the Copyright Office to urge adoption of a broad accessibility exemption from the anti-circumvention provisions of Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The proposed exemption would remove roadblocks to access to digital works for people with disabilities. TPMs limit people with disabilities’ access to digital works because TPMs often block assistive technology. For example, a person may be prevented from watching a lawfully acquired video because the video’s TPMs block color-shifting technology, which the person needs to be able to watch the video. The proposed exemption would allow that person to lawfully circumvent this TPM in order to utilize the assistive color-shifting technology.

Continue reading “TLPC Advocates for Broad Accessibility Exemption to Section 1201 of the DMCA”

TLPC Files Comments in the Eighth Section 1201 Triennial Review

Today, the TLPC filed a series of comments in the Copyright Office’s Eighth Triennial Review of exemptions from the anticircumvention measures of Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Section 1201 prohibits the circumvention of technological protective measures (TPMs) that control access to copyrighted works, but allows stakeholders to apply for and receive broader temporary exemptions for a variety of noninfringing uses. The TLPC filed comments on four exemptions, one focused on security research and the other three on various accessibility purposes.

Continue reading “TLPC Files Comments in the Eighth Section 1201 Triennial Review”

TLPC and Georgetown Communications and Technology Law Clinic Draft Accessibility Agenda for FCC Transition Team

In consultation with Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. (TDI), the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), the American Council of the Blind (ACB), the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), and the Technology Access Program (TAP) at Gallaudet University, the TLPC and our sister Communications and Technology Law Clinic (CTLC) at Georgetown Law developed an overview of critical technology accessibility priorities for a new administration at the Federal Communications Commission. The overview encourages the transition team and the FCC to:

  • Prioritize accessibility in agency leadership;
  • Relocate the Disability Rights Office to a new Office of Civil Rights;
  • Address videoconferencing accessibility problems in response to the pandemic;
  • Get the Real-Time Text transition back on track;
  • Bolster video programming accessibility; and
  • Improve the accessibility of wireless handsets.

TLPC Files Comments on Behalf of Disability Rights Advocates to Enforce Carceral Communications Accessibility

TLPC student attorneys Caitlin League, Michael Obregon, and Brandon Ward worked over the last month with a coalition of incarcerated deaf/disabled people and their advocates, consumer groups, including our client, Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. (TDI), and accessibility researchers to file comments in response to a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) soliciting input on rates charged to incarcerated people for the use of telecommunication devices. Carceral facilities, including prisons and jails, have long denied incarcerated people with communications disabilities access to functionally equivalent communications services and equipment and charged exorbitant rates to maintain crucial connections between incarcerated people and their families, loved ones, and legal representatives.

Because the transition of the phone system from analog to Internet Protocol networks has largely broken compatibility with teletypewriters (TTYs), many carceral facilities essentially provide no accessible services or equipment. Among other remedies, the comments urge the FCC to require that inmate calling services (ICS) facilitate the provision of accessible services, including video relay service and Internet Protocol Captioned Telephone Service (IP CTS) and equipment, including videophones and captioned telephones, to carceral facilities.

TLPC Publishes White Paper on the 911 Accessibility Regulatory Framework- An Update of 2015 TLPC 911 Accessibility Whitepaper

(by Jake Stephens, Colorado Law 2L)

Student attorney Jake Stephens wrote a white paper updating federal and Colorado regulatory frameworks governing 911 accessibility, updating a white paper on the same topic published by the TLPC in 2015. This update covers recent developments in 911 access regulatory dockets at the FCC, a summary of a withdrawal of proposed updates to 911 accessibility regulations under the Americans with Disabilities Act by the Department of Justice, and a glimpse into state 911 accessibility regulations with Colorado as the case study.

TLPC Files Amicus Brief on Behalf of Print Disability Advocates in Georgia v. Public.Resource.Org

On October 16, 2019, the TLPC filed a brief of amici curiae in the matter of Georgia v. Public.Resource.Org, a case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court of the United States involving the copyrightability of annotations to state law. The TLPC filed the brief of amici curiae on behalf of print disability advocate organizations American Association of the Deaf-Blind, American Council of the Blind, Burton Blatt Institute, Disability Rights Advocates, National Federation of the Blind, World Institute on Disability, and individual print researcher and advocate Sina Bahram. The brief addresses concerns about Georgia’s failure to provide its laws to those with print disabilities in accessible forms as required by Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. As part of its wider project to promote free and open access to the law, Public.Resource.Org has undertaken to make the law accessible to those with print disabilities. The brief also raises concerns about Georgia’s use of copyright law to quash efforts to provide the accessible information which Georgia has itself failed to provide and underscored that making works accessible to those with disabilities is an uncontroversially non-infringing fair use.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Consumer Groups and Researchers Call on FCC to Improve the Quality of Live Captions

WASHINGTON – On July 31, the TLPC, on behalf of its client Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. (TDI) and in partnership with the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), the Association of Late-Deafened Adults (ALDA), the Cerebral Palsy and Deaf Organization (CPADO), Deaf Seniors of America (DSA), the Deaf/Hard of Hearing Technology Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (DHH-RERC), the Twenty-First Century Captioning Disability and Rehabilitation Research Project (Captioning DRRP), the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Universal Interface & Information Technology Access (IT-RERC), and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, supported by the American Association of the DeafBlind (AADB) petitioned the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to address long-standing quality problems with captioning for live television programming.

Continue reading “Deaf and Hard of Hearing Consumer Groups and Researchers Call on FCC to Improve the Quality of Live Captions”