Sarah Blake LaRose (3kitties) wrote,
Sarah Blake LaRose

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thoughts on the telecommunications act

There is a note in today's convention newspaper regarding H.R. 6320, a bill requiring the accessibility of telecommunications access systems. I looked it up because the note simply stated that there is an exhibit booth with a phone line allowing us to call our Congressperson and urging us to ask them to sign onto the bill. Of course, I never just call and ask because so-and-so said to do it, even if so-and-so is my mom or dad. (My mom and dad taught me that, btw.) It is healthy to make sure that this is actually something I want to do.

H.R. 6320 contains language to amend a bunch of other bills and thus create accessibility requirements for companies providing Internet access equipment. This seems to imply that anything a company provides that allows you to access the Net has to be accessible, even if they bring it into your home; and if it is not accessible, they must not install it. Unfortunately, it is a bill that looks like it will have a lot of loopholes. It has to have vague language in order to allow for technology development, etc. Vague language leaves a whole lot of room for lack of knowledge and crazy interpretation; and ultimately it means we don't really gain anything without continuing to press the issue. It means that each time we try to access something and find it inaccessible, we have to report lack of compliance and go through whatever motions are necessary to help ensure that the law is enforced. No wonder people with disabilities are so tired/jaded.

Every time I come to an ACB convention, I wonder what my place is. I'm not good at rights advocacy, and I honestly don't want to be. It drains me. What I am good at is proactive stuff: educating people about how we do things and helping them to implement solutions. That's why I care about disability ministry. I don't want to fight the church. I want to call the church to action because it's a good thing to do and I believe that underneath whatever is making people lash out at us is something I can relate to. A lot of times, if I work hard, I can find it--and it's less draining for me to do this kind of work than it is for me to fight against the ignorance and rudeness. And I believe the same philosophy works in my relations with society in general.

I haven't decided whether I'll call my Congressmen yet. I'll sleep on it for a bit. The bill is not a bad thing to have. I'm just afraid it's not really the thing that will solve any problems. And it certainly won't get rid of the CAPTCHA! Now that's something I would like to see really changed: that security that pops up everywhere requiring people to type the letters they see in the box. Sometimes there is an audio alternative; but I have to say that deafblind folks have a significant point about this. You can't use the audio file if you can't hear it; and you CAN use the Internet with a braille display if you can't hear a screen reader. My hearing is damaged enough that I sometimes cannot understand the audio alternatives. It upsets me to be unable to use what is supposed to make something accessible for me. Oh well... CAPTCHA is another fight for another day.


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