U-Verse PEG Placement Too Hard on the Blind: Advocates

Advocates of public-access channels have complained that AT&T has made it too hard for blind and vision-impaired consumers to find public, educational and government channel programming on the U-Verse multichannel system.

On most cable providers, channels can easily be accessed through a remote control, the American Community Television organization said Thursday. U-verse, though, makes PEG programming available on Channel 99 only through a series of on-screen menus, making it difficult for those who are blind or vision impaired to gain access, ACT said.

ACT president John Rocco, who is visually impaired, manages the Charlotte Mecklenberg Public Access Corp and Access 21, a local public-access channel. "I cannot navigate to my own channel," Rocco said in the release. "This impacts all persons with visual disabilities, particularly the elderly."

"The irony here is that PEG channels provide more programs by and about persons with disabilities than any other television medium," Rocco said in the release.

PEG proponents have been fighting with AT&T for more than two years over the Internet-delivered U-Verse's treatment of PEG channels.

ACT said members have sent letters to Randall Stephenson, president of AT&T, and Jacquelyn Brand, the chair of ATT Advisory Panel on Access and Aging, urging them to correct the issue and deliver PEG channels the same as the other channels included in the U-Verse system.

An AT&T representative could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday afternoon.

ACT said AT&T, in a recent report titled "Accessibility, Innovation, and Sustainability at AT&T," stated it has a "Human Factors Group" that studies all AT&T products to ensure that they are accessible to people with disabilities.