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21st CENTURY COMMUNICATIONS AND VIDEO ACCESSIBILITY ACT (CVAA)

The 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA) focuses on ensuring that communications and media services, content, equipment, emerging technologies, and new modes of transmission are accessible to users with disabilities. The bill is primarily targeted at communications software and equipment manufacturers, video service providers, and producers of video content. The act requires that all communications and video programming be provided in an accessible manner to individuals with disabilities.

The overall requirements of the CVAA require that manufacturers and service providers of communications technology provide technology that is accessible to people with disabilities, if achievable. If accessibility is not supported directly in the product or service, manufacturers or service providers must ensure that third-party solutions that make the product accessible are available at nominal cost.

The CVAA broadly provides that accessibility only needs to be provided “when achievable,” which means with reasonable effort or expense as determined by the FCC. Generally speaking the barrier for accessible development being “not achievable” is high, and entities opting not to provide accessibility based on it being not achievable face the burden of proving this approach.

The 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 is split into two titles that specify the following:

  • Title I – Communication Access – Title I of the CVAA amends specific sections of the Communications Act to increase the scope of communications services and equipment that must be accessible to disabled users.
  • Title II – Video Programming – Title II focuses on video programming and broadly requires that the FCC conduct inquiries and enforce regulations for making video programming, services and equipment accessible to disabled users.

Covered Products and Services

The products covered under the CVAA can be broken down into two categories: advanced communication services (ACS) and Video Products and Services.

ACS includes:

  • Interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service
  • Non-interconnected VoIP service
  • Electronic Messaging Service
  • Interoperable Video Conferencing Service

Video Products and Services include:

  • Television programs
  • Internet video programming
  • Video playback devices and software
  • Video recording devices and software

Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act