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Senate Passes Video Accessibility Act

The Senate Thursday night passed (s.3304) the Twenty-First Century Video Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010.

The bill updates the disability access provisions of communications law to insure access to new digital media and reinstates the FCC's video descpription rules, which were thrown out by the courts.

Among the updates are making smart phones and other portable devices accessible and eventually requiring closed captioning of online video content.

Bill backers had hoped to have a law on the books to coincide with last week's 20th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act, but recognized it would probably take until early August before it could be ready for the president's signature.

The bill was introduced by Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and co-sponsored by Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.). The House version was backed by another familiar Massachusetts legislator, Democrat Ed Markey.

The House version passed July 26, but it is different from the Senate version.  The two must now either be reconciled in conference, or either bill could be voted as is by the opposite body.