Arlington, Va. - Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)
president/CEO Gary Shapiro suggested amendments to the Communications and Video
Accessibility Act in testimony delivered Thursday before a hearing held by the
House Committee on Energy and Commerce's Subcommittee on Communications,
Telecommunication and the Internet.
Testifying on behalf of CEA, Shapiro said, "Our objective is to
meet the needs of disabled Americans while retaining the freedom we need to
continue as the greatest innovation creator."
Shapiro agreed on the value of a centralized database of all
products and services for disabled Americans. He explained CEA's concern that
H.R. 3101, by requiring all Internet connected products and services be
accessible by Americans with all disabilities, would freeze technology and
deter innovation and entrepreneurs. Shapiro suggested several alternatives to
the end goal of providing Americans access to information, education and
"The legislation before us -- H.R. 3101 -- is extremely
broad in its scope -- chilling innovation and the entry of new
products. More, it ignores the increasing number of products on the market
which serve the needs of many in the disability community," Shapiro noted.
The current legislation does not take into account the
ever-changing dynamic of Internet-based services and devices, he said. "We are
no longer living in a world of single-function devices ... The legislation's
attempt to adapt old regulations established to apply to primary function
services and devices ... to new multifunction
devices will not produce the desired result, and will only impede the
advancement of new technologies and accessible features."
And Shapiro added that CEA is "concerned about the draconian
fines on manufacturers if they do not meet the â€˜accessibility for everyone'
requirements. More, CEA is concerned about the barriers created for
entrepreneurs and innovators by the burdensome documentation and reporting
requirements that take effect during a product's design phase." He also said
the industry and the FCC must be afforded flexibility with respect to the
content and format of any reports.
In closing, Shapiro said, "We look forward to working with
all interested stakeholders on a legislative approach that reflects the rapid
innovation of our market with the desire to ensure that these products and
services are accessible to persons with disabilities."