Learning, Networking, Information

June 13, 2011 in Education & Outreach
TDI 19th International Conference: Chock Full of Learning Opportunities and a Mecca for Great Networking 

By Cheryl Heppner, 6/8/11

Hitting the Mother Lode

I was sad to see the TDI conference in Austin come to an end on Saturday evening. The numerous keynote speeches were absorbing, and I learned so many interesting and new things in the workshops. I’ll bet there were many other attendees who agonized over choosing which of the breakout workshops to attend. There were always two or three very interesting topics in each time slot.

If you’re interested in harnessing the power of technology for “shaping an accessible world” – TDI’s tagline – you will be mesmerized at a TDI conference. Even if you’re not fully versed in the jargon such as NPRM, seat-based system, P2P, or T-3/M-4, many of the speakers were either consumers or consumer-friendly with their choice of words, and everyone was always willing to clarify and elaborate.

Something new at this TDI conference was an additional large screen at the front of the room. At all of the sessions in the room, it would display a sign language interpreter working from a remote location, while another live interpreter was always onstage. The onscreen interpreter was provided by one of the conference sponsors, CSD and made the presentations much more accessible to those seated some distance away from the stage. Both of the live and virtual interpreters did an outstanding job.

Bits and Pieces About the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA)

A few bits of news from the Keynote presentation by Karen Peltz Strauss, FCC Deputy Bureau Chief, on day one:

 Something new and important in the CVAA is that under Section 716 – Advanced Communications, there is now a higher standard that calls for accessibility to be provided unless it is not achievable. Two other things that are also new are language that says the industry has the flexibility to incorporate access or use third party apps, peripheral devices, etc. made available to the consumer at a nominal cost, and that the new standard for “achievable” sets out considerations requiring reasonable effort or expense. One of the considerations is the extent to what a service provider or manufacturer offers accessible services or equipment containing varying degrees of functionality at different price points.

The FCC was asked to grant an exemption for video gaming systems from complying with this act because they were not created for communication purposes. Discussion is still ongoing on this, as they seek to determine what Congress intended in the CVAA legislation.

The CVAA covers software applications, not just hardware and software.

The CTIA’s website now is listing access features in mobile handsets – www.accesswireless.org (I checked this out and it’s wonderful!)

The National Deaf-Blind Equipment program is still waiting for approval from Office of Management and Budget (OMB) before moving forward. It is a two-year pilot program to certify and provide funding to one entity in each state. States will receive a share of $9.5 million to pay for equipment for individuals who are deaf-blind.

Questions and Answers – Captioned Movies

In answer to a question about what the FCC will do with Netflix, which is not providing captions for all of its online movies, Karen said that the FCC has no jurisdiction over Netflix. This means the best option is for consumers to continue their grassroots movement to persuade Netflix to provide those captions, working with organizations like HLAA, ALDA, AG Bell, TDI, NAD and COAT. However, in the future, with the CVAA in effect, a movie shown on television that is then shown on Netflix would have to be captioned.

Karen also reminded the audience that in the past year the FCC has made clear that cable/satellite Video on Demand services must be captioned.

 Home Again, Home Again

My very early flight northeast on Sunday morning ( I was up at 2:20 am!) turned out to be a total delight. My seatmate was TDI’s Executive Secretary, Gloria Carter, who was unfailingly helpful and kind throughout the conference and whose smile never disappeared no matter what new challenge was thrown her way. She is just as terrific a traveling companion and it seemed that we touched down at BWI airport in the blink of an eye.

Claude StoutExecutive Director, TDI
photo by Paul Rutowski  
Online Captions?
Gloria Carter
photo by Paul Rutowski