November 18, 2022

Duckworth Joins Markey, Rep. Eshoo in Introducing Legislation to Ensure Accessibility of Video, Communication and Emerging Technologies for Individuals with Disabilities


[WASHINGTON, DC] – U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) joined U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and U.S. Representative Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18) in introducing the Communications, Video, and Technology Accessibility Act (CVTA) to update and amend the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) to keep pace with the proliferation of emerging technologies that have come online since 2010. It will help ensure that people with disabilities have full access to the range of mainstream communication products and services that are necessary to participate equally in professional, educational, recreational and civic contexts, while laying a foundation for accessibility in future technologies.

“Accessibility must be in the forefront of our minds As we continue to make advancements in our educational, recreational and civic devices and spaces,” said Duckworth. “I’m proud to join my colleagues to introduce this bill, which will help align existing law with the technological realities of today and the developments of tomorrow so that everyone, including those of us with disabilities, can engage and participate with equal access.”

“Since I authored the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, technologies have changed. What hasn’t changed is our obligation to make sure that everyone – including people with disabilities – has equal access to the services and technologies they need to thrive,” said Markey. “That is why I am introducing the Communications, Video, and Accessibility Technology Act, to update current laws on the books so that we can meet the technological moment and ensure opportunity, independence, and equal access for all.”

“As technology has rapidly evolved over the last two decades, much of our economy and day-to-day lives have moved online,” said Eshoo. “Unfortunately, accessibility standards have stayed largely the same, leaving people with disabilities behind. In 2020, 38% of people who were blind or had low vision reported issues with at least one of the technologies needed to do their jobs, and in 2021 as many as 70% of students who are deaf or hard of hearing reported technology challenges in the educational environment. I’m proud to introduce legislation with Senator Markey to update current laws so people with disabilities have full access to modern technology that is necessary to participate equally in the 21st century.”  

Along with Duckworth, Markey and Eshoo, the Communications, Video, and Technology Accessibility Act (CVTA) is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

Full bill text is available here 

Duckworth has repeatedly called for equal access to all technology for people with disabilities. In September, she and U.S. Representative John Sarbanes (D-MD-03) introduced the Websites and Software Applications Accessibility Act to help break down the significant barriers that Americans with disabilities continue to face when accessing website and software applications, which all Americans rely on for employment, commerce, education, public services and all other aspects of society. She led her colleagues in calling for a federal review of how artificial intelligence (AI), algorithms and algorithmic bias might play a role in discriminating against people with disabilities when it comes to employment opportunities and hiring practices.

In July, Duckworth and U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) joined U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) and a group of nine Senators in calling on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to support online protections for Americans with disabilities. The Senators asked DOJ to restart a rulemaking process under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to establish new rules ensuring that the ADA applies to the Internet. She and Durbin also led a group of 10 Senators in urging the DOJ to provide better guidance and regulations to help state and local governments better comply with the ADA accessibility requirements on their websites, mobile applications and other forms of technology.