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FCC Proposes Rule to Make TV-Menu Devices Available to Blind

FCC asks if such rules apply to devices supplied by cable and satellite providers

A rule requiring devices that access television-user interfaces and video-programming guides and menus be available to people who are blind or visually impaired has been proposed by the Federal Communications Commission.

On June 18, the FCC posted a Federal Register notice — Accessibility of User Interfaces, and Video Programming Guides and Menus — that requires closed-captioning and other features linked to user interfaces, be activated by a button or icon.

In addition, the FCC is seeking comment on whether current federal law — the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-260) — that covers TV “navigation devices” applies to equipment supplied by “programming distributors” (cable and satellite providers), as well as all other digital devices that “receive or play back video programming transmitted in digital format simultaneously with sound.”

The FCC also wants comments on whether the most effective way to activate interfaces, video-programming guides and menus is through a mechanism reasonably comparable to a button or icon, and if those features can be activated, and deactivated, in a single step, and if “11 essential functions” found on conventional devices are represented on alternate devices.

The deadline for comments is July 15 and for reply comments is Aug. 7.

Click here to access the Federal Register notice.