Technology Bill of Rights for the Blind Act of 2010 Introduced

Date: 
Mar 3, 2010

Technology Bill of Rights for the Blind Act of 2010 (Introduced in House)

111th CONGRESS, 2d Session, HR 4533

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the `Technology Bill of Rights for the Blind Act of 2010'.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

Congress finds the following:

(1) Rapid advances in microchip and digital technology have led to increasingly complex user interfaces for everyday products like consumer electronic devices, home appliances, and office technology devices. Many new devices in these categories require user interaction with visual displays, on-screen menus, touch screens, and other interfaces that are inaccessible to blind or low-vision individuals. Rarely, for example, are settings on televisions, home stereo systems, or dishwashers controlled by knobs, switches, or buttons that can be readily identified and whose settings can be easily discerned with or without the addition of tactile markings by the consumer.

(2) The use of inaccessible interfaces on office equipment such as copiers and fax machines makes these devices unusable by the blind, and many office software packages are either substantially or totally inaccessible to blind people who use assistive technology. This lack of access is a potential threat to a blind person's existing job and a barrier to obtaining a new job.

(3) Increasingly, electronic kiosks are being used to sell consumer goods and services, including tickets for public transit and air transportation, and to provide important public information. If a kiosk is not accessible in a non-visual manner, a blind person has no way to make a purchase, check in for a flight, or access important public information.

(4) This growing threat to the independence and productivity of blind people is unnecessary because electronic devices can easily be constructed with user interfaces that are not exclusively visual. Text-to-speech technology has become inexpensive and is in wider use than ever before. It is used in everything from automated telephone systems to weather broadcasts by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Additionally, office software can be designed to work with screen access technology used by the blind at little or no extra cost as long as such compatibility is taken into consideration at the beginning of the design process.

(5) Some manufacturers have incorporated non-visual technology into their products by creating talking menus or enabling them to articulate the content on the display, a practice that makes such products more usable by all consumers, whether blind or sighted. For example, Apple, Inc., has incorporated innovative non-visual interfaces into the latest versions of its iPhone and iPod product lines.

(6) There is no reason why all manufacturers cannot produce electronic devices fully accessible to blind and low-vision individuals.

(7) Text-to-speech technology is not the only mechanism by which consumer electronic devices, electronic kiosks, home appliances, and office technology devices can be made accessible to blind and low-vision individuals. In some cases, tactile markings or audible tones may be sufficient to make such devices fully accessible.

(8) Blind and low-vision individuals should be able to obtain and operate consumer electronic devices, electronic kiosks, home appliances, and office technology devices with the same ease as those with normal vision.

Read the full bill at: Technology Bill of Rights for the Blind Act of 2010 Introduced