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 entertainment.
"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."