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Advocacy Alert! Please Come to the FCC on Thursday, February 20

Advocacy Alert!

Please Come to the Federal Communications Commission on Thursday, February 20

Hi consumer advocates, professionals in deafness and hearing loss, and friends in the metro D.C. area,

This Thursday will be a SPECIAL day for us at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

The FCC will produce some action this Thursday with a Report and Order, a Declaratory Order, and a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on TV caption quality issues.  The FCC takes action in response to our two petitions, one in 2004 for caption quality, and another in 2010 for 24-hour captioning, a mandate for captioned advertisements, and real-time captioning of local news, weather, and sports shows.  The two petitions were filed jointly with the Commission by TDI and its sister consumer groups - NAD, ALDA, HLAA, DHHCAN, and AADB.

Can I ask you to do America a big SPECIAL favor?

Please come to the open Commission meeting this Thursday (February 20)  It will start at 10:30 a.m. and finish at about 12:00 p.m.  The Commission's headquarters is on 445 12th Street, SW, Washington, D.C. 20554.  If you come by car, there is a parking garage behind the Commission building.  The parking rate is rather steep, around $19 per day. There are other places to park, a good block or two away from the FCC, you can pay ten dollars for a place at an open parking area, or use the meter, two hours is the usual maximum.  If you come on Metro, get off from the Smithsonian station which is on the Blue/Orange line.  Be sure to arrive at the Commission building a good thirty to forty five minutes before 10:30 a.m. This is because you will need to go through security, first to get a visitor's badge, and then go through the security gates.  The open Commission meeting is on the first floor, and you need not go look for an elevator.

When I send you a request for your personal help and involvement, I do it when we know it is going to be worth your time and effort, and the results it will bring to the rest of our fellow deaf and hard of hearing citizens in America!

If you come to join us this Thursday at the FCC, it will make a tremendous impression on the new Chairman of FCC, Mr. Tom Wheeler, and his fellow four Commissioners - Ms. Mignon Clyburn, Ms. Jessica Rosenworcel, Mr. Ajit Pai, and Mr. Michael O'Rielly.  Equally important, we give our deepest thanks and "pats on the back" to Ms. Karen Peltz Strauss, Mr. Greg Hlibok, and Mr. Eliot Greenwald with the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau at the FCC.  They have worked hard with the five-member Commission to make this initiative possible.  The FCC is making a big step forward for our two petitions.  They have heard you loud and clear, after so many years.

The historical, pivotal action FCC takes this Thursday will create much improvement in captions for our daily television viewing experience.  Details are not final but a few examples are as follows:

1.)  the Commission is giving local TV stations with news, weather, and sports shows a year's time to substantially improve captioning of these shows via the electronic newsroom technique (ENT).

2.)  While local TV stations improve their offering of captions via ENT for their news shows, FCC asks around for more information as to whether the TV stations should continue providing captions via ENT or in real-time captions.

3.) The Commission will make clear that it expects higher quality captions for off-line (pre-recorded) programming, and as reasonable as possible for live programming.

4.)  The Commission will ask in an upcoming proceeding on whether it should require captioning of all advertisements that are shown on TV, as well as programs having captions 24 hours a day.  Right now, as you know, advertisements are not required to be captioned, and programs that are aired between two a.m. to six a.m. are usually not captioned.

5.) Commission will coordinate more closely with industry on complaints that we file with them for erroneous captioning. This time, there will be enforcement action on the Commission's part, only when there is a recurring violation of any one programmer's responsibility to caption its program.

6.)  As equally important, the Commission will signal that it intends to review progress in captioning regularly from the industry, and that it comes up with follow up action when there is lack of improvement over a reasonable amount of time with any one area of captioning.

My dear friends, will you sincerely heed my call for participation?  If you are working, try asking your boss to excuse you a couple of hours, and join us in the historic Commission meeting. If you are retired, here is an opportunity for you to do something different!  If you can come to join us in this event, we would be deeply grateful, and I know Karen and Greg will feel the same, too.

Again, the FCC event is at 10:30 a.m. this Thursday, February 20 on 445 12th Street, SW, Washington, D.C.  Come by car or on Metro.  Let the FCC see a good crowd from the deaf and hard of hearing community.  The TV industry will realize we do make an important part of the market.  Come and let us show others what we are made of!

Thanks for giving my request for your participation your full consideration.  All the help you can give, we would deeply appreciate it.  You are most welcome to distribute this info. to your other contacts.  Let us come in droves and droves.  We can make an impressive turnout better than a group of Canadian geese flying in a "V" formation!

See you this Thursday at the FCC!


Claude Stout
Executive Director
Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. (TDI)