Bill would increase technology access for people with disabilities

The bill would implement a number of requirements aimed at making it easier for people with disabilities to use televisions and smartphones, particularly to access the Web. For example, the bill would enable audible descriptions of action on-screen for the visually impaired and require Internet telephone equipment to be compatible with hearing aids.

Industry groups representing the wireless and cable industries hailed passage of the bill and pledged to work with the government to implement its provisions.

"Americans are more reliant than ever on communications devices and networks in their daily lives, but Americans with disabilities can derive particular benefits from these technologies," said Walter McCormick Jr., president of the broadband trade group USTelecom. "Broadband is an essential building block of every modern American community, and we believe this legislation makes many opportunities accessible to all Americans."

The bill will also mandate that remote controls have a button that turns on closed captioning and require captions on new television shows broadcast online. Similar allowances are made to allow the visually impaired to use TV menus and access the Web via smartphones.